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City shows excitement for Publix

The recruiting of a Publix grocery store and development of two major connector roads might be the longest economic development project Marsha Gaylard has worked.

“It has been a probably the longest project I’ve ever worked, but timing is everything, and the timing is just fallen into place,” said Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation “It was a very, very exciting announcement.”

The projects were announced Monday during a press conference at Troy City Hall. The Publix grocery development, a $10 million-plus development, will bring an anchor grocery store and more than a dozen retail stores with it. The connector roads, a nearly $10 million project, will extend Franklin and George Wallace drives to Oak Park subdivision and Enzor Road respectively, providing long-desired access across town and opening previously inaccessible areas for development.

Bids should be let on the roadwork by June, with construction beginning in the fall. Groundbreaking on the grocery store development should be January 2016, with the store opening tentatively scheduled for February 2017.

“Monday was a great day in Troy and Pike County,” Gaylard said.

Gaylard also said that with Publix being an anchor for more than 12 outparcels, the PCEDC already had a wish list of potential retail and industrial leaders that could potentially come to Pike County next.

“We’re already in the midst of making contact with other retailers that we feel like we’ll be able to attract now,” Gaylard said. “Publix is a very prestigious company and they do a lot of due diligence in the process of determining where they’re going to go. They probably do it better than any other retailers. Other retailers know that, and when Publix has done their due diligence that gives them the confidence that they can be successful in those locations as well.”

But, the area of growth won’t just be seen in the lot for Publix. Gaylard strongly believes the areas around the connector roads will provide a space for both residential and commercial opportunities.

“It can be commercial development, service type businesses. We’re hoping that residential opportunities will also go in that area, especially, multi-family nicer upscale apartments,” she said.

Dejerilyn King Henderson, District 5 councilwoman, said she had several of her constituents express their genuine excitement for the grocery story.

“I’m very excited about Publix coming, and I think it’s needed. I think it’s going to increase the number of persons that actually shop locally.”

Henderson echoed Gaylard’s sentiments saying the development would increase the amount of sales tax revenue the community and city received, which could mean more developmental projects coming into the community.

“I’m hoping some of the opportunities that will come will be increased tax revenues because more people will be shopping at home,” Henderson said. “And, having an increase in our tax revenues gives us an opportunity to continue to grow.”

President of First National Bank in Brundidge and Chairman of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation John Ramage said the opportunity was one Pike County was well deserving of, especially because of the opportunities the new infrastructure will provide.

“I think that the development of the retail center is obviously very big, but the roads have the potential to transform Troy given the number of people that live out on Country Club, Wildridge and Enzor Road. It ties that side of Troy back to the south side of Troy without dealing with Highway 87 and Highway 231.”

The connector roads will run behind Publix and its outparcels, providing access across U.S. Highway 231 and providing easier access to major points of interest, such as the city’s recreation center on Enzor Road; the public hospital on U.S. 231 near Franklin Drive; and Troy University, located on George Wallace Drive.

And, Ramage even said he felt the connector roads were a bigger opportunity than Publix because it opens up more than 200 acres of land that can be used for any sort of development.

Marcus Paramore, District 3, said the connector roads should alleviate a fair amount of traffic on the highway.

“It will help alleviate some traffic,” Paramore said. “There are some connectability issues there with the rec center and the hospital. The rec center is designated as a shelter when we have events, so having easier access from there to the hospital and 231 will be good.”