More commercial developments are coming to West Cartersville, as the Shoppes at Village Hill officially broke ground Thursday afternoon.
“It will be a job creator, it will be a nice neighborhood center,” said H&H Realty, LLC broker Mark Harris. “We’re having fairly good luck getting pre-leasing done — we anticipate having it about 75% leased by the time we’ve got it completed, if not 100%.”
The 14,000-square-foot strip center along Charley Harper Drive — previously known as Village Hill Drive — will have eight tenant units. Harris said the idea is to assemble a group of “homogenous” end-users that will complement each other as neighboring businesses.
“We’re looking for more of the mom and pop retailers,” he said, “people that are local, who will put a boutique-type retail-use in here that will serve the community that surrounds here — the schools, the parks, the residential and just the people who work around here.”
From the outset, Harris said one of his top priorities for the Village Hill project was to use as many local contractors as possible.
"Buy Bartow, right?" he said. "I'm happy to report that 100% of everything that will go on at this site will be done by a local contractor or subcontractor."
For Karl Lutjens of Southland Engineering, working on the property was a true blast from the past.
"I grew up as a kid riding bicycles over this," he said, "so it's great to see some commerce on it."
Concrete pads are almost ready to be poured at the site. Harris said Nov. 1 is the date being eyed for the $1.2 million shopping center’s opening.
“The land value we placed on this is $650,000-$700,000,” he said. “By the time we finish all the tenant buildout, we’re going to be right around $180-$190 per square foot.”
New York-based Eckstein Properties is developing the total 20-acre Village Hill commercial subdivision, which includes eight general commercial sites. Two tenants, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, have already begun operations on the West Avenue adjacent property. Harris said more will be announced shortly; among the potential developments includes a sit-down, family-style restaurant.
“Everybody was telling me, ‘Mark, enough fast food is out here, get us something we can take the family to,’” he said. “I’m really working hard on getting 3,500 square feet on the end down there, overlooking Ladd's Mountain.”
Harris said he’s optimistic that agreement will be finalized over the next two months.
“These deals take a lot of time, there’s so many moving parts when you start dealing with a tenant and getting credit references and credit approvals in order to justify spending the money we have to spend to finish out their space,” he said. “We want to make sure we pick tenants who have the wherewithal to fulfill the agreement once we move them in.”
Harris said West Cartersville has been a commercially underserved market for years — something the Village Hill developments seek to rectify.
“We’re just trying to get some tenants over here that will serve the area,” he said. “I’m trying my best to get a food store over here, a smaller, boutique-type food store, not necessarily to compete with Ingles but would be comparable to an Aldi.”
While there’s certainly a demand for more retail in West Cartersville, Harris said the problem is a lack of available, developable land in the area.
“You have the railroad that borders you to the north here that just kind of cuts everything off,” he said. “Nobody wants to build retail and commercial on the other side of the tracks when they get caught back there by the train.”
Harris also gave an update on the roughly 62-acre Interstate Commerce Park (ICP) development off Cass-White Road and Spring Place Road. He said he expects the $30 million park, which is also being developed by Eckstein Properties, to be built out within four years.
“The ICP project is back on schedule,” he said. “We lost some time due to rain and the soil being too wet to move, but now we’re in good, dry conditions … we’re putting all the infrastructure in as far as drainage, sewer, utilities.”
Harris said the park’s first footings are slated to go in this week.
“We hope to have that building ready for occupancy by the end of November, the first of five buildings,” he said. “As far as I can tell, I’ve already got that building leased, in total.”
A second “sister” building with a comparable footprint, he said, is on pace for completion in the first quarter of 2020. At a groundbreaking ceremony for that project earlier this year, Harris said the fully developed park will most likely entail about 320,000 square feet of industrial flex space, with potential tenants running the gamut from actuator companies and last-mile distributors to plumbing contractors and light assembling and manufacturing operations.