BREAKING GROUND: Ceremony marks beginning of Publix development: ‘I just can’t tell you how excited we are to be here’
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Rainy weather couldn’t dampen the excitement as the City of Troy hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at the new Park Place Commercial Development.
“This day is years in the making,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves told the nearly 100 business and government representatives gathered under a tent for the ceremony.
The crowds were on hand for the groundbreaking of a new retail development on U.S. 231 that will be anchored by a Publix grocery store, scheduled to open in early 2017. Harbert Realty Services is developing the center and additional retail parcels, with plans already approved for a Panda Express restaurant set to open in 2016.
Standing at a podium at the site that formerly housed Dozier Mobile Home Park, Reeves reflected on the impact for the community. “I lived in a mobile home about 200 yards back there,” he said, nodding to the cleared worksite behind him. “Working the second shift at KW, never could I have imagined this day would come.”
Reeves said the development “wouldn’t have happened without a lot of people who worked hard when roadblocks happened,” and he credited the Pike County Economic Development Corp., the developers, Publix and financing agent Regions Bank, among others.
“I just can’t tell you how excited we are to be here,” said David Currey, Regional Director for Publix Super Markets Inc. “This is going to be a great project for the city of Troy and the people participating in it. Thank for you for having us as your partner.”
David Williams of Harbert Realty also praised the efforts of local officials.
“We have the luxury of investing dollars all across the Southeast … and the cooperation we’ve received from the city has been second to none,” he said.
The mayor said local officials had been working for several years with Publix officials, in hopes of recruiting the grocery store to the market. Adding Harbert Realty to the plans helped push the project forward. “We’d looked, but we hadn’t quite made it before,” he said, adding the key to this project was the addition of two new connector roads. “(The Publix representative) told me earlier that when we started talking about the roads she got goose bumps, because she knew Publix was coming to Troy.”
The $7.75 million Enzor Road Connector Project includes 2.4 miles of new road construction. George Wallace Drive will be extended to Enzor Road and Franklin Drive will extend to Oak Park, connecting to Highway 87/167. It is the largest road infrastructure project undertaken in the city’s history. Work began Nov. 1 and is set to be completed by Nov. 30, 2016.
“This is a great day for the community, and the roads are as big as anything,” said John Ramage, board president for the Pike County Economic Development Corp. “Those roads are opening 300 acres for retail, commercial and residential development.”
The mayor described the roads and the Park Place project as “the first domino to fall in an unprecedented growth for this community.”
“This has been a white whale that has been being chased for a long time,” Reeves told the crowd. “Leading that chase a long time has been Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corp., former mayor Jimmy Lunsford and several members of their Board of Directors.”
Gaylard said Troy and Pike County will see the benefits of this development unfold over the next five-plus years. “We’ve been so, as far as retail goes, in a town our size with a university here,” she said. “This will open doors.”
Councilman Marcus Paramore, whose District 3 benefits most from the new road development, said this project “is just the first step in opening up a lot of economic development for Troy.”
Currey said the Publix store expects to employ 100-plus people. “You never give up on an opportunity to serve a community,” he said of the effort to open a store in Troy. “I’m so looking forward to a grand opening day and great opportunities.”
Reeves, too, is looking forward to that day, echoing what he believes are the sentiments of many other residents. “I’m excited about Publix and Harbert Realty having the willingness to invest in our community and I take a lot of pride in that, not just as mayor but as a Troy boy,” he said.