Shopping center

A local developer hopes to build a new mall near the West Lake neighborhood

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Georgia (WJBF) – Right now it’s a barren site, but a developer hopes businesses will move into a Columbia County property soon.

“The proposed plan is for over 110,000 square feet of retail space and I am reducing it to less than 50,000 square feet. So it halves what is already approved,” said Rafy Bassali.

Bassali is working on building a similar facility at the Surrey Center in Augusta. Its mall would be built on West Lake Commons Drive, off Furys Ferry Road, near the West Lake neighborhood.

He said: “I think everyone wants the live, work, play concept and there are a lot of residences in the area, so that’s the work and play part of it.”

The development may even have charging stations for electric cars.

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

Earlier this month, the Columbia County Planning Commission deferred action on an application to rezone the undeveloped Bassali property.

Some West Lake residents say they are not completely against the mall project. They just want things done right and hope the storm water problems don’t get worse.

Dr. Hameed Malik lives in West Lake. He explained, “The piping system, which is owned by the West Lake Association and maintained by owners’ dues, is an aging system. Already deteriorating, failing and stressing.

According to Malik, stormwater from Quick Care near West Lake does not affect the neighborhood, and stormwater from the proposed mall is not expected to mix into his neighborhood’s system.

He said: “As a resident, at some point you have to pay more, and in fact there are already assessments out there that something needs to be done.”

“From the town, from locals, stuff like that, 97% of the communications I have about this project are all positive, so that’s an affirmation,” Bassali said.

The Columbia County Planning Commission is due to reconsider the application to rezone the property on Oct. 7.