During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Oglethorpe Square Shopping Center on West Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville, national athletic retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods was announced as one of the occupants.
Jamey Flegal, director of real estate for Hutton made the announcement, which is the fifth national store to be confirmed as taking residence in the shopping center, which is expected to open next spring.
The others that have been named are T.J. Maxx, Hobby Lobby, PetSmart and LongHorn Steak House. The new shopping center will be built next to Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Clearing of the site will start Monday, Flegal said, and a ribbon cutting for one of the main stores will be in 10 months.
Kenneth Howard, the executive director of the Hinesville Development Authority, called the project “a game changer.”
“And I can tell you, over the many years that I’ve worked with the city of Hinesville, this project will have probably the most significant impact for this region, and not just Hinesville,” he said.
Mayor Allen Brown said the groundbreaking was “just the beginning,” and when the ribbon is cut, “if y’all would excuse me, all hell is going to break loose.”
Brown said the 250 full-time jobs expected from the shopping center is “big for our city and our county.”
Oglethorpe Square “will cause Hinesville to become a regional shopping destination, and it will make it a whole lot more convenient for our citizens to shop local,” he said.
Justin Frasier, vice chairman of the HDA and the District 2 representative on the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, said seeing more development coming to the county makes him, “in the words of our chairman, ‘Liberty County proud.’”
Strong gusts of wind swept through the construction site during the ceremony, giving figures of speech more meaning.
“And as the wind keeps blowing, the direction of Liberty County shows that we’re blowing in the right direction,” Frasier said.
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said, “One of the things that government must do is improve the quality of life of its citizens.
“And part of that quality of life,” he added, “is good shopping opportunities.”
Hinesville Mayor Emeritus Jim Thomas was involved in the creation of the HDA and served during the planning of the shopping center project.
“This project brings us a long way on the way to becoming the city that Hinesville always was destined to be,” he said.
Several of the speeches throughout the ceremony mentioned the cooperation and partnership between local government and the developer.
“And I can honestly say I’ve never been a part of a project where the cooperation between all the parties has been like this project,” said Flegal.
Oglethorpe Square Hinesville LLC, created by companies Hutton and Knightswood, donated $3,000 to the Liberty County Re-entry Coalition “as a small token of our appreciation for everything that Kenny Howard has done for this project,” Flegal said. Howard is a supporter of the coalition.
After the ceremony, Flegal said the shopping center will make Hinesville the retail hub between Savannah and Brunswick.
Oglethorpe Square shopping center is “arguably the most significant, one of the largest retail projects that’s going to be built in the state of Georgia this year,” he said. “And the fact that it’s coming, that we’re able to put together as many first and best-in-class retailers is, I think, just a great testament to the strength of the region.”