Things are growing quickly in a lot of places around here, so you have wonder what's coming next. That's what people in Statesboro and Bulloch County are asking about a huge piece of property just off Highway 80. It may be the most talked about empty lot in Statesboro, a 19-acre tract along Veterans Parkway. It looks like a shopping center. But what big-name stores have their eyes set on the 'Boro? Rumors are flying about what's going in.
"I've heard it's a shopping center that may include a Red Lobster," said resident Rachael Burgess.
"I heard its going to be a new Wal-Mart and the old one will be a Sam's," said Keith Hendrix from Metter.
"I heard Cracker Barrel's coming and also Outback," added Statesboro local Debbie Deal.
City manager George Wood says the developer hasn't tipped his hand on potential buyers. But it's proof Statesboro is growing.
"In the last census, Bulloch County grew by 29 percent, in terms of population growth," he said.
He says the 'Boro is a regional hub that brings shoppers from eight surrounding counties. A recent UGA study says for every retail dollar that leaves Bulloch County, $1.59 comes in. That's one of the highest ratios in the state, higher than Macon, Augusta, even Savannah. Some say new restaurants and shops could mean more, not less, business for long timers.
"I think everyone understands that one shoe store by itself may not do well. But five shoe stores together and women go crazy thinking it's the greatest place in the world to shop," said Peggy Chapman, CEO of the Statesboro Chamber of Commerce.
City manager Wood says the lot shows more national retailers now see Statesboro as a big market in the making. Wood says out-of-county shoppers make up almost half of Bulloch County's sales tax revenues.