MONROE, Ga. — Both a sign at the site and a comment from the mayor confirmed it Thursday: Publix is coming to Monroe.

“There’s not a person around here more excited than I,” Mayor John Howard said.

A “Coming Soon” sign went up at a proposed development planned in a large area bordered by U.S. 78, Charlotte Rowell Boulevard and North Broad Street.

The Lakeland, Florida-based grocery store is expected to break ground in the first or second quarter of 2020 as part of the first phase of what will be known as Monroe Pavilion.

“They signed on the dotted line about 10 days ago and had to wait on the sign to go up, and now I’m waiting on the Publix press release,” Howard said Thursday afternoon. “They put their sign up today.”

That press release arrived Thursday evening. 

"MAB American, LLC (MAB) is pleased to announce that Publix has signed a lease to anchor Monroe Pavilion with plans to open a 48,387-square-foot store," it read. 

"Located on 100 acres at US 78, GA HWY 138 and GA 11, Monroe Pavilion is slated to open in 2021 with a groundbreaking planned for Q1 2020. Total investment for the entire 350,000-square-foot project will exceed $80 million.

From the beginning, our vision for Monroe Pavilion has been to provide quality shopping and dining that meet the needs of residents of Walton County, and Publix signing on as the lead anchor tenant is a significant step toward reaching that goal,” said John Argo, President of MAB American Management, LLC. “As we prepare to break ground on the shopping center, we look forward to securing additional tenants that create a quality retail destination close to home.”

"Monroe Pavilion currently features site commitments for 150,000 square feet of big box anchor stores, including Publix, two fashion merchants, a beauty chain and other retailers selling shoes, pet supplies, sporting goods and popular priced general merchandise."

The mayor noted it isn’t the first time a business has put up a sign promising to locate in Monroe, but said he feels confident in Publix following through with its decision.

“We’re going fast and furious toward the finish line,” he said. “As long as they’re saying they’re coming, we’re going to agree with them.”

No other retailers have been announced for the development, but Howard said it’s expected “several” businesses will be part of the first phase.