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Posted: February 19, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Ross department store coming

Store will open in Covington Commons plaza

Danielle Everson/

A sign for Ross Dress For Less was put up in the Covington Commons shopping plaza Tuesday evening.

Covington will soon be able to dress for less.

Clothing store Ross announced Wednesday it will be opening in the Covington Corners shopping center at the intersection Elm Street and U.S. Highway 278. A sign was stretched across the storefront of what was most previously a Save-a-Lot grocery store.

The new store, anticipated to open possibly by late summer, will take up the old Save-a-Lot space, which was a Food Depot before that, and the space next to it, said county commercial recruiter Dave Bernd.

Bernd said Ross will be putting a lot of money into developing the site, including replacing the façade and possibly raising the floor to alleviate concerns after the shopping plaza flooded in November.

When Bernd presented his retail plan in January, he described $494.1 million in potential retail sales being lost by Newton County to other counties. Among that money, auto parts and dealers topped the list with a loss of $120.3 million, followed by general merchandise (department stores) with $56.2 million. Ross falls into the latter category.

"They looked at the $56 million in leakage in general merchandise," Bernd said of Ross’ decision to come to Newton County. "There isn’t a whole lot of competition … it was ripe for the picking."

There is currently a Ross in the Stonecrest area and in Conyers, but the store’s arrival is important for Covington, where residents frequently note the lack of clothing options locally.

On Ross’ website, the store is described as having "the best brands, the latest fashions for family and home – all at 20 percent to 60 percent off department store prices."

Ross reached out to Bernd almost as soon as he started on the job. He said several companies have their eyes on Newton County, which shortly will be home to Baxter pharmaceuticals. Baxter is set to hire around 1,500 full-time workers by 2018, making Newton County, Stanton Springs and Walton County hot properties.

Within Bernd’s first month on the job, he said he made 120 contacts with companies wanting to set up shop in the area.

Along with Covington Corners, another area being looked to be developed is the Martin’s Crossing center, which houses Ingles, and still has vacant room left from when Walmart anchored it.

"We’ve been stagnant but now we’re coming out of the recession and what we see now is a great deal of interest," Bernd said. "Now there is enthusiasm in retail but it felt helter-skelter. With Baxter now a reality there is a fair amount of interest.''

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