WJBF's News Channel 6's Courtney Elledge takes a look at the progress of the development in Columbia County once called Marshall Square.
Seven years in the making, Columbia County government has officially purchased 26 out of 52 acres from the Marshall family. The County's original plan was to build Marshall Square, which would be home to a hotel, shopping center, and serve as the downtown district of Evans. When the economy went sour, the plans fell through.
Columbia County Commissioners are now seeing what's next. Ron Cross, Columbia County Commissioner chair, says, “basically, Evans Towne, it would be a place for people to come shop, go to nice restaurants, be offices there where people work. It would be an excellent location for the legal community, because of proximity to the courthouse. Our dream and our goal is that it would turn out pretty much like it was proposed.”
Currently, the lot has a Chili's restaurant, a fitness center, and a doctor's office. Cross says it also serves as a parking area for major events held across the street at Evans Towne Center Park. Once complete, the area could lower taxes and bring in more revenue to Evans.
“Whether it's in the one cent SPLOST or so on, allows you to do things that normally you can't do on property taxes alone because most property taxes are taken up with the routine day to day operations of the government. By keeping that low, it helps our quality of life and people to come to Columbia County. We do need to give people more options to shop and a bigger variety,” says Cross.
Cross says they're playing it safe and waiting for major investors in order to start construction, and he says, as plans are set in stone, production will begin.