Upscale grocer, clothing retailer being sought as anchor tenants of new Mullins Crossing phase

The wait for more retail and restaurants at a new section of Mullins Crossing in Evans could soon end.

Nearly a year after contractors started grading the 21-acre site at 4263 Washington Road, developers say a high-end grocery store, upscale clothing retailer and sports bar-type restaurants are on the horizon for the next phase of the Columbia County shopping center.

Joe Mullins, who is developing the property with his brother Frank, said he anticipates that two of the three anchor tenants will sign leases this fall and a formal announcement should occur by late September.

He expects construction of the projected 500,000-square-foot center to begin this year, with stores open 12 to 18 months later.

“We’re making this second one more of a destination point,” Mullins said. “When you’re able to pull in Mullins Crossing, you’ll be able to get everything you need and not have to go to another center. That’s what we’re balancing out right now.”

The first phase of Mullins Cros­sing opened in 2005 with anchors Target and Kohl’s, and the fully occupied center now includes dozens of retailers and restaurants. A second phase was expected to follow immediately, but Mullins said the recession of 2008 caused them to shelve the project.

Mullins said the development will be connected to the existing portion of Mullins Crossing and will include two or three additional access points to alleviate traffic congestion in the area.

The developer said they waited to develop the second phase in conjunction with the River Watch Parkway extension project.

Mullins said that because the 21-acre lot is on a higher elevation than the adjacent center, grading for the second phase has been costly and time-consuming. “We had a massive amount of dirt to bring down,” he said. “It’s just going to move massively fast when we start (construction).”

Mullins said that he could not disclose names of any tenants, but that leases for some of the restaurant spaces have been signed. Building permit applications for the center have not yet been submitted, according to county planning

“We didn’t want to put anything that would hurt Target (or) Kohl’s. In phase two, we’re doing the same thing,” Mullins said. “You do not want to hurt the synergy of the shopping center, because if one goes, it affects the whole place.”