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Developers staying busy
Construction continues despite economy
decel lane 1
A planned shopping center on Airport Road will include a 300-foot deceleration lane, marked here by orange stakes. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Matt Sigman is one of the local private developers who doesn’t seem to be fazed by talk of bracing for uncertainty as the economy recovers in the coming year.
“If you look back in history, all the business developers … this is the time they made their money,” Sigman said, alluding to a few entrepreneurs, including John D. Rockefeller.
“If you can do it, right now land is cheap, construction is cheap, material cost is cheap,” he said.
Sigman plans to co-own the retail center on U.S. Highway 84, near the Comcast Cable building, when it is completed in March or April.
Although he did not want to disclose all the potential businesses yet, Sigman said Liberty Station will be a 10,000 square-foot, single-story building, with four to five expandable 1,600 square-foot stores and a 3,000 square-foot Laundromat, complete with a TV and game room.
And just a few months after welcoming a shopping center anchored by Food Lion, Liberty County’s extreme west side has attracted a single-story shopping center on Airport Road, next to the House of Prayer.
Totaling about 13,000 square feet, the estimated $1.2 million structure will have four retail stores and a covered walk.
Don Hodges of Hodges Construction Inc., the general contractor for the site, said the project started about three weeks ago. He estimated a short construction time.
“We’re anticipating on opening in spring 2009, March or April,” he said.
Hodges, who has been in the construction business for over 25 years, said he has not seen a noticeable break in area projects.
“In this part of the state, we haven’t seen any real slowdown on the commercial side,” he said.
“You still have your city governments … they’re still moving, they’re still doing their projects,” Hodges added, mentioning the county’s plans to expand Airport Road to four lanes.
Sigman said this area’s economy is good. His Liberty Station project has sparked interest from outside Hinesville.
“It’s a good sign because it means that people are really standing up and taking notice,” Sigman said. “People are going to go where they think they’ll stand to make money.”
So far, the only confirmed retailers renting space on Airport Road are JS Beauty Supply and a convenience store, according to co-owner James Blake.
He and his wife, Namsun, were not skeptical about purchasing the 4.62 acres and delving into uncharted territory. 
“There’s quite a few subdivisions off Airport Road, plus there’s quite a few people who live on 15th Street. …,” Blake said. “To me, I feel it’ll be a convenience to the people on that side of Hinesville and in Walthourville.”
Hodges agrees with Blake's rationale.
He thinks dollars are lost and opportunity is missed when too many residential areas are not balanced with businesses.
“I think what’s happened is a lot of the residential stuff that’s been built — there’s no infrastructure to support it,” Hodges said, referring to nearby businesses.
Sigman also owns the new car wash and storage center next to the Liberty Station construction site. He has seen how things have changed over the four years he’s been a developer.
“There’s definitely a lot of risks in the market right now, and you better make sure your pockets are deep enough,” Sigman said.
But he and co-owner Allen Dasher think the pros outweigh the cons. That includes trying to better the community.
“We don’t come in and throw something up and just try to make money,” Sigman said.
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