CONYERS — The redevelopment of the former Salem Gate shopping center property is moving forward, although — thanks to the pandemic — it will take shape differently from what was originally planned.
Conyers Mayor Vince Evans said the large-scale shopping/dining/lodging project bordered by Iris Drive and Old Salem Road will likely begin construction after the first of the year after the effects of the pandemic slowed development and caused some retailers to hesitate before signing on to the development.
Evans said developer Tri-Land Properties has two commitments for the 315,000-square-foot Salem Gate Market development — Floor & Decor with 80,000 square feet, and Northern Tool at 50,000 square feet. An earlier commitment from Hobby Lobby expired due to the timing for completion of the project, Evans said.
Evans said the commitments from Floor & Decor and Northern Tool are indicative of the way retail businesses have changed during the pandemic. With so many shoppers now buying online, Evans said retailers that sell goods that buyers want to see before they purchase are more likely to need large anchor spaces in retail developments.
He said Tri-Land’s expectation is that once the anchors are in place and the economy has begun to recover, smaller businesses and restaurants will follow.
Evans said initial plans for a hotel on the 21-acre property are uncertain.
“It’s going to evolve more slowly and evolve differently,” Evans said of the project.
Tri-Land purchased the site of the former Salem Gate shopping center in the mid-2000s, but redevelopment of the property got delayed by the recession. Tri-Land broke ground on the development in April 2019 and demolished the aging shopping center that had become an eyesore.
The project is part of a public-private partnership in which the city created a Tax Allocation District for the property. Under the TAD, the city, county and school system have agreed to abate ad valorem taxes for the property, keeping them at the current level for the next 20 years. As the property is redeveloped, any future tax revenues generated by the increased property value would be allocated to repay Tri-Land for infrastructure costs.