Do you recognize this pattern?
We see a potential problem on the horizon, namely the building of an outlet mall near the Grovetown Wal-Mart. In case you cancelled your subscription to The Augusta Chronicle, it was reported in the June 29, 2011 Columbia County News-Times that a local real estate company, Blanchard and Calhoun (why does their name keep repeating), was working towards attracting potential retailers to an outlet mall in Columbia County. This is where it gets interesting:
The CCNT reported that a survey was taken among “residents” last year in 2010, and “more than” 90 percent of the “about 4000” respondents to the survey “indicated they’d like to see that type of establishment in the county. More than 1,200 people who answered the survey live outside the county.”
The article makes it sound like everyone in Columbia County wants an outlet mall located in the county; therefore we have a developer and county representatives that are going all out to make sure the residents get what they want. Did you participate in the survey? We know more than 1,200 people that don’t live in the county did. Are you in a position to verify the results?
Let’s look at the numbers. If 4,000 participated, and 1,200 didn’t live in the county, that leaves 2,800 Columbia County residents that did participate. If 90 percent of them favored an outlet mall, then approximately 2,520 people said yes. At 124,000 residents, that means 2% of the people are in favor of the idea. We don’t believe anyone with any business savvy would make a multi million dollar decision based on such a small sampling.
Who wouldn’t want an outlet mall in the county? They’re fun to go to sometimes, and every once in a while you can pick up a good bargain.
We’re not opposed to anyone building an outlet mall at their own expense on their own property, but we are opposed to using any taxpayer money to help fund such a venture.
Before you get excited about the concept, please look at the pictures below of an outlet mall in Darien, Georgia, and notice the empty parking lot. The pictures were taken at approximately 4:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. This is the future of an outlet mall.
Keep your eyes and ears open for this one over the next year, because Columbia County’s Development Services Director Richard Harmon said that he is “75 percent confident that an outlet-type center will be built near Grovetown”.
We say let it be built, but don’t use a penny of out tax dollars to subsidize the project. In case you missed it, this group of Commissioners loves to spend money, not their money but OUR money, on things beneficial to their friends. We’ll be watching, and we encourage you to watch too.