An Atlanta-based development company has announced plans to build a commercial "power center" that will bring national retail and restaurants to Dawson County.
Blanchard Real Estate Capital is expected to break ground in early 2014 on the 102-acre lot off Ga. 400 just south of North Georgia Premium Outlets between Carlisle and Dawson Forest roads.
"This is the perfect site to undertake a project like this and we think the people of Dawson County are going to be happy with the end result," said David Wishen, a principal with the firm.
Originally intended as a massive retail development that fell through when the economy tanked, Blanchard purchased the foreclosed Sembler property to build a nearly 350,000 square foot center that will include both national retailers and popular eateries.
While Wishen did not reveal the potential tenants, he said each will address a "need that's certainly underserved in the area."
"We're in pretty serious discussions with a handful of national retailers," he said.
Local residents have a wish list of stores they want to see at the new shopping center. Suggestions range from big-box retailers such as Target and Kohl's to wholesale retailers, a book store and specialty discount shops.
"I would love Ross and Red Lobster," said Linda Moore.
Many are also hoping for a few new healthy dining alternatives, along with popular favorites such as Cracker Barrel, Chili's and Pizza Hut.
"A decent sandwich shop sure would be nice," said Staci Speaks. "Something light and simple."
Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, said his office has been in discussions with Blanchard representatives for several months.
"We're very excited to have them purchase that property. I think it shows a tremendous amount of confidence in Dawson County and confidence in the future," he said.
"We believe they'll be able to move projects forward that will be a benefit to the county tax base and also provide jobs in Dawson County."
Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg welcomed the new venture, which he called "an indication that things are moving forward."
"The thing I think is most impressive is that look at the business aspects its bringing to the community. It looks like things are on the move in the business community in Dawson County. This is positive from a tax base standpoint," he said.
Christie Haynes, president of the local chamber of commerce, said she is thrilled Blanchard chose Dawson County.
"This project has the potential to generate local jobs, increase sales tax dollars and add to our retail options," she said. "This closing exhibits Dawson County's vibrancy and continued growth potential in the coming months and years.
"We look forward to working with the development authority and incoming businesses as this project develops."