MONROE, Ga. — The COVID-19 outbreak has meant one of the most jarring economic downturns in the nation’s history, but the developers of a local shopping project say they aren’t seeing an impact on their plans.
Monroe Pavilion is in the early stages of work along U.S. 78 between Charlotte Rowell Boulevard and North Broad Street.
The 100-acre development will bring national retailers to Walton County, many of them opening their first local stores.
“Construction is continuing, but we kind of consider ourselves day to day based on the circumstances we find ourselves in,” John Argo, the president of MAB American Management, said this week.
He said illness could create a breakdown in the supply chain, but for now construction has kept up the pace — “and thank our lucky stars that we’re able to do that,” Argo said.
Publix was the first retailer to announce, back in the fall. The grocery store will be its second in Walton County.
In January, MAB said Ross, Ulta Beauty, Marshalls, Rack Room Shoes and Five Below also had signed leases as part of the $80 million project. Argo said no one has backed out of deals to come to Monroe.
“The good news: The timeline for us to open in the summer of next year falls far outside the virus,” he said. “Maybe this is just kind of a divot, if you will — I hope that’s all it is and we’ll continue to add retailers to the lineup.”
Argo said he’s grateful to city, county and state governments that continue to work to inspect and permit projects despite many offices being closed to public access.
“They’re able to keep this part of the economy as alive as they can,” he said. “We’d be remiss if we didn’t say that.
“The real stars of this are our health workers who are working miracles and taking bullets for all of us. We’ve just got to be thankful up and down the line.”
Beau Young, the executive vice president of Retail Specialists, said work continues on several lease agreements, with man out for signatures now.
He declined to identify the retailers.
“People know we’re going to come out of this,” he said. “This is not like the financial crisis of 2008. This is going to go away.”