Publix shopping center exec talks traffic plans, other plans


People in small towns typically don't like traffic, of any sort.

A new business or commercial development, especially one the scope and scale of the Publix shopping center, is always accompanied by concerns from the public. 

The Sembler Group, owners and developers of the Publix shopping center (dubbed Lakeside Commons), finalized its traffic plans months ago, all in anticipation of the grocery store's grand opening at some point in July, "as long as there are no major setbacks or surprises," according to Josh Beyer, Sembler Group's senior vice president. 

The anchor tenant of the shopping center, of course, will be Publix Super Market. The Milledgeville Publix will be the fifth in middle Georgia, joining the two in Macon and the two in Houston County. Publix began in Florida, and anyone who's spent a decent of time in the Sunshine State knows that Publix is a big deal down there. Despite being one of the largest grocery store chains in the country, Publix is limited to seven states in the southeast. Here's a fairly flowery and flattering video of the history of Publix and more about the company...


Meanwhile, for an idea of the layout, here's a walking tour of a Publix store, courtesy of cart cam...


Then, there's the strip mall, comprised of 10 parcels. T-Mobile will occupy the first two parcels on the far left, while Sugar Polish Nail Bar will encompass the third, fourth and fifth. The first Sugar Polish opened in Athens in 2018 and has since spread to the Atlanta area. Sugar Polish apparently is pretty large and swanky.

The other five strip mall parcels are still available, and Beyer said that Sembler has been in touch with "several restaurants and different kinds of businesses."

Perhaps more interesting are the two large outparcels, which are 1.41 acres apiece and suitable for a standalone restaurant or larger store. The Sembler Group currently is in negotiations with a company interested in both large outparcels, according to Beyer, although that's all preliminary.

The two "large outparcels" are located in the clearcut at the bottom of the pic above.

Getting back to traffic, Beyer said that the company worked with two different engineering firms on the design, as well as the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"We feel as if it's a very solid (traffic) plan, Beyer said. "It shouldn't take customers long to adapt to it."   

Essentially, there will be three ways to get into Lakeside Commons but only two ways to get out. Here's a breakdown:

• #1, relative to the diagram and drone shot below,  is the one that's closest to town, higher on the hill and furthest from the North Columbia Street/Log Cabin Road intersection. It's also the one that's "entrance only," and it's only for motorists heading north on North Columbia and coming from town. In other words, there will be no left-hand turns allowed for people in the southbound lanes of North Columbia at #1. For people concerned about cars coming barrelling over the hill and towards the North Columbia/Log Cabin red light, this would be considered a good thing. A deceleration lane already has been installed for #1.

• #2 is a new entrance/exit along North Columbia and carved out closer to the grocery store. There will be no restrictions (no right turns only, no entrance only, etc.) The deceleration lane for this entrance/exit is even longer than the one for #1, and there's also a long acceleration lane back onto North Columbia.

• #3 is nothing new, and it's the same entrance/exit off of Log Cabin that's been there since the car wash at the corner opened several years ago. Similar to #2, there will be no restrictions. Lakeside Commons will "share" this entrance/exit with the car wash.

Publix obviously isn't shying away from being located in such close proximity to Kroger. In fact, Sembler references Kroger in its lease brochure.

"The adjacent Kroger generates an average of 150,000 visits per month, and the closest Publix at Lake Oconee generates 125,000 visits per month," according to the brochure.

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