COLUMBIA — Residents of north Columbia who have clamored for a grocery store for years should have one at the intersection of Range Line Street and Blue Ridge Road by the end of 2010, developer David Atkins said. The grocery store would anchor a shopping center of up to 140,000-square feet.
Midland Development Group of St. Louis has tentatively agreed to buy the property from Rampart Development of Columbia. The company began eyeing the 20-acre plot in 2007, but decided not to buy and develop the land until recently. Rampart now will focus on meeting the infrastructure stipulations set out by Midland.
“My hope is that construction could start late in 2009,” Atkins said. “Once construction commences, the facility would be finished within 12 months.”
Emery Sapp and Sons of Columbia began work this week on a $4.2 million extension of Providence Road between Vandiver Drive and Blue Ridge that will improve access to the Rampart property. That project was a major catalyst in Midland’s decision to buy and develop the land.
“This site is bursting with opportunity given the traffic studies, roof tops and absence of modern, comprehensive shopping facilities,” Cory Gale of Midland said, according to a Friday news release.
Fredrick Eugene Rowe, who lives in the area and works at The Answer Salon and Tanning, said he’s looking forward to the development across the street. He predicted northside residents will appreciate the shopping center.
“Oh yeah, we hate having to go across town to get some groceries,” Rowe said.
Neither Atkins nor Gale would discuss which grocers might locate on the property.
“We are still waiting on our own financial analysis of the project,” Gale said. “It is hard to get retailers to build right now.”
In May 2004, developers representing Walmart expressed interest in building another Walmart Supercenter on the city’s north side, preferably along Range Line Street. But Craig Van Matre, who has represented Kroenke and other partners in Walmart developments, said the economy has stalled those plans.
“I don’t see a Walmart on that side of town for some time,” Van Matre said.
Atkins said he also doubted a Walmart would be built on the land. He estimated a grocery store would take up about 80,000 square feet of the total development. He said he was grateful that the city and state have the Providence Road extension under way.
“It will drive traffic to the area, and the improvements prove to my buyers and potential tenants that the city of Columbia is serious about developing the north side of Columbia,” Atkins said. “This is a win-win-win situation.”