Developer Converting Former Auto Dealership to Retail Center in Ga.'s Bibb Co.

Jul. 15--The former Sutton Acura dealership on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard is being turned into a retail center, which will include a new pizza and pasta restaurant.

Renovation of the building into a strip shopping center -- to be named Riverside Commons -- is expected to be completed this fall and ready for tenants by early 2007, said Kevin Donegan, director of leasing for the property owner Stafford Properties.

The building at 120 Tom Hill Sr. Blvd. has been vacant since 2002 when Sutton Automotive moved its dealership to Riverside Drive.

"It's a great high-visibility area," Donegan said. "It has great traffic flow."

One tenant, the Original Giuseppi's Pizza and Pasta, already has signed a lease for space, he said.

Currently the pizza restaurant operates only in South Carolina and Atlanta.

Donegan declined Friday to name the franchise owner.

Giuseppi's bills itself as a "true neighborhood restaurant," according to its Web site.

Although Stafford is gutting the interior of the former car-dealership building, the main structure will remain with about 3,500 square feet of added space. The current floor plan for the 16,000-square-foot retail center has space for eight to 10 tenants depending on tenants' needs, Donegan said. The renovation and addition will cost about $3 million, he said.

"It will probably have a couple of restaurants, probably a couple of service tenants like a nail salon and hair salon, a cell-phone store and other standard retail," he said.

Atlanta-based Stafford owns the property and will manage and lease the building, he said.

Stafford is a full-service real-estate company specializing in the development, operation and management of neighborhood centers throughout the Southeast, according to its Web site. Its holdings include more than 3.1 million square feet of retail and office properties.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call (478) 744-4223 or e-mail [].

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