Local developer hoping to build new shopping center near the West Lake neighborhood

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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Right now, it’s a barren site but a developer is hoping businesses will soon call a Columbia County property home.

“The proposed plan is over 110,000 square feet of retail and I’m reducing it down to under 50,000 square feet. So, it’s cutting it in half of what’s already approved,” said Rafy Bassali.

Bassali is working to build a facility similar to Augusta’s Surrey Center. His shopping plaza would be built on West Lake Commons Drive off of Furys Ferry Road near the West Lake neighborhood.

He said, “I think everyone wants the live, work, play concept and there’s a lot of residential in the area so this is the work and play part of that.”

The development may even have charging stations for electric cars.

“I drive an electric car and I think it’s going to be more mainstream in the future,” remarked Bassali.

Earlier this month, the Columbia County Planning Commission postponed action on a rezoning request for Bassali’s undeveloped property.

Some who live in West Lake say they are not completely against the proposed shopping center. They just want things done the right way and hope stormwater issues don’t worsen.

Dr. Hameed Malik lives in West Lake. He explained, “The pipe system, that is property of West Lake association and maintained by the homeowners’ dues and that is an aging system. Already deteriorating and failing and stressed.”

Stormwater from the prompt care near West Lake doesn’t affect the neighborhood and stormwater from the proposed shopping plaza shouldn’t mix in with his neighborhood’s system according to Malik.

He said, “As a resident, at some point has to pay more, and actually there are already assessments there that something needs to be done.”

“From the city, from residents around there, stuff like that, 97% of communication I have about this project is all positive so that is affirming,” said Bassali.

The Columbia County Planning Commission is scheduled to review the rezoning request for the property again on October seventh.

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