Interest in retail space in Rincon has been so strong that nine new tenants have been lined up to fill 12,600 square feet of space that is being added to the new Kroger shopping center on Ga. 21.
Rincon City Manager Wesley Corbitt said Kroger already has letters of commitment from nine businesses that will fill the strip center that is being built to the north of the new Kroger store.
He said developers have not shared with the city the identities of the new retail businesses, but said two would be small chain restaurants and one would be a nail salon.
Corbitt said the extra space was added to the project because there was so much interest by retailers after the development began.
The city is doing what it can to try to increase interest in Rincon among retailers.
Earlier this year, Rincon hired a retail consultant -- The Retail Strategy Real Estate Group, based in Austin, Texas – to help it attract more retail businesses.
Corbitt said the city is paying the firm about $50,000 a year for two years to market Rincon to retail companies.
City Planner LaMeisha Kelly said the consultant staffs a booth with information about Rincon at about a dozen trade shows across the country each year.
Corbitt said retailers rely heavily on demographics about potential customers, such as age, education and income in deciding where to open stores.
The consultant studies the demographics and then uses its contacts in the retail business to try to make matches.
No specific announcements have been made because of the consultant’s work, but it’s still early in the process, Corbitt said.
He said decisions about where to locate new stores generally take several years, and the economy is just now starting to recover from the economic downturn a few years ago.
Corbitt said Kroger has set aside about an acre in front of its new store that will be sold for a sit-down restaurant.
He said the developers likely will hold out for a steakhouse or seafood restaurant. “They can be choosy who they sell that parcel to,” he said.
Corbitt said Rincon is ready for a big chain restaurant. He said the city modeled its alcohol ordinance after Pooler, requiring a restaurant to have 50 percent of its sales be from food and the rest from alcohol.
Kelly said the Chick-fil-A that is planned for an outparcel in front of the new Kroger will be built next year, after some roadwork is finished.
Rincon applied for and received a $500,000 state grant to improve the road in front of the new Kroger.
A traffic signal and turn lanes will be added in front of the new store, with road work beginning in January.
The Kroger gas station is scheduled to open in December and the new Kroger will open by the end of May, Kelly said.
The new Kroger Marketplace store will replace the current Kroger that’s farther south on Ga. 21 in Rincon. The current store has 44,000 square feet.
The new store will have 115,000 square feet.
In addition to the fuel center, the new store will have a drive-thru pharmacy, Starbucks, apparel department, expanded natural foods and organic section and Chef on the Run.
The project is estimated to bring approximately 250 to 300 new jobs to the community, according to Glynn Jenkins, spokesman for Kroger in Atlanta.
Kroger’s Atlanta division introduced its first Marketplace store in Carrollton, Ga., in 2013.
The Atlanta division operates five Marketplace stores in Savannah, Athens, Carrollton, Gainesville and Warner Robins.