The view from I-75 is amazing these days, for those who don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to drive around the bustling construction areas. If you do, you will see an incredible amount of development going on, concentrated predictably near the exits.

The new Sheraton at Exit 18 on one side, the new location for Five Points Toyota on the other side, and then near Exit 16, you see the huge expansion for the Hampton Inn by the conference center, and you can also see the new Holiday Inn being built near there, too.

At Exit 5 at Lake Park, the outlet mall has two new tenants opening soon, Oshkosh B’gosh and Carters, plus the new Flash Foods and Krystal near the interstate. And that’s just what you can see from I-75, not everything that’s going on in the county.

Not only is this growth healthy for the community, it also imbues an image of Valdosta in the minds of those just passing through town that the city is growing, thriving, and a place they might want to stop and spend some time. At least with all of the hotel choices, there are certainly a number of places to stay the night, and with more retailers, restaurants, and other businesses opening, there’s more to do in town, too.

I’m asked all the time if I think all this development is good, and from my viewpoint, growth is good, as long as the community controls it and doesn’t let it control us.

Business Roundup

The long-awaited, newly renovated Sportsman Club in downtown Valdosta reopened last week. Open nightly at 5 p.m., they’re offering burgers, wings, etc. in a family friendly atmosphere.

I also understand the new City Market is close to opening, possibly as soon as Friday for the third floor artist’s studios. Opening in what used to be the Goodwill building downtown, I understand there will be retail spaces on the bottom, and possibly apartments on the second floor.

Lulu’s downtown has a sale pending sign on the door, and I’ve heard it’s being bought by a local restaurateur for a family style Italian eatery, a nice addition to that area.

There are a few things going on down Ashley Street, with the Payless Shoes closing and moving to Inner Perimeter Road.

The newly renovated McDonalds is moving along well, and the Arbys looks open for business. Near the Arbys in the strip center, Just BBQ is up and running as well in the former Charley O’Corley’s building.

There is a new fitness center in Five Points Shopping Center called Anytime Fitness, at the corner where the Baskin Robbins used to be.

And the new Office Depot opened this week, finishing out the four new big box anchor stores for the mall’s renovation. Other stores are soon to follow, with the Talbots and Jos. A Banks really moving along quickly.

Shopping at Christmas this year should be a treat with all the new stores opening in town now.

The mall will hold a ribbon cutting event in a couple of weeks, followed by a grand opening in late fall for the rest of the stores.

I’ll conclude this week by fishing a little bit. I understand a company that makes healthy snacks is buying the former Crackin Good bakery site in town. Anyone know something more concrete about it?

That’s it for this week, but if you see something I may have missed, please let me know.

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