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McDONOUGH, GA-After five years of talks and planning, Simon Property Group of Indianapolis, North American Properties of Cincinnati, and Cousins Properties Inc. of Atlanta plan to break ground by first quarter 2005 on the first phase of South Point, a $200-million, 1.5-million-sf open-air shopping center in Henry County, 35 miles south of Downtown Atlanta.

The total project will comprise one million sf of retail and restaurant space, 500,000 sf of office and 1,000 apartments or townhomes. The estimated hard construction cost of the venture is $133 per sf, based on the developers’ announced $200-million figure.

The announcement by the three national developers follows informal plans on the project reported by GlobeSt.com in May 2003. At that time, the developers decided to scrap plans to build separate one-million-sf shopping centers in Henry County and pool their resources for one major retail enterprise. The 2000 Census lists Henry County as the sixth-fastest growing county in the US.

The development site here is west of Interstate 75, between GA 20 and GA 81, eight miles east of the Atlanta Motor Speedway. South Point will also be 17 miles north of the 1-million-sf Southlake Mall, owned by Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. in Morrow, GA, Clayton County.

South Point is expected to compete for customers with Southlake Mall when it is fully constructed in 2007, area retail brokers familiar with both submarkets tell GlobeSt.com. South Point is scheduled to be marketed nationally later this month at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual convention in Las Vegas.

The McDonough Planning Commission this week was expected to unanimously approve the rezoning of the 92-acre site. At 1.5 million sf, South Point will rank among the larger regional shopping centers in metro Atlanta but will still be behind the 1.9-million-sf Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett County.

A fourth national developer, CBL & Associates Properties of Chattanooga, TN, plans to build a separate mall of undetermined size in Henry County, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. CBL is banking on the state building a proposed new $20-million interchange at Bethlehem Road to make the project workable, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

For North American, the South Point project is the second major retail undertaking in metro Atlanta in the past two years. The developer opened the first 750,000-sf phase of the $100-million, 1.14-million sf Camp Creek Marketplace in southwest Fulton County in July 2003.

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