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Moes, Rainbow move to Covington
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Follow-up Q&A with John Brozovic, regional director of leasing for Halpern Enterprises, which owns Newton Plaza:

Q1. How long has the former United Bank building been vacant? Approximately 2 years
Q2. How large is it? 2400 sq. ft.
Q3. How long has the Stacey’s building been vacant? 4-5 years
Q4. How do you go about recruiting these types of businesses? What’s the process? I go thru a network of prospects and businesses. Find out who is expanding and what demographics and co-tenants they are looking for. If I feel they would be a good fit and not unreasonably compete with existing businesses I approach them. Unfortunately, it is a long process and some deals take over a year to negotiate.
Q5. What do these businesses’ arrival mean for Newton Plaza? Continued stability
Q6. We’re actually getting a couple of clothing shops in town? What are you hearing from them that’s bringing them to the market? Retailers have realized that Covington is a thriving town.
Q7. Anything else going on with Halpern’s properties in Newton County that you can talk about? Nothing I can discuss at this time. Check back in 6 months.
Q8. How many total spots are there in Newton Plaza and how many are now filled with tenants or will be filled with these latest announcements? Once these tenants move in there will only remain one vacancy of 4500 sq. ft. (former Hallmark). That will make 39 businesses total in the shopping center.

Covington is slowly adding more retail options and Moe’s Southwest Grill and Rainbow clothing store are the latest arrivals, agreeing to locate in the Newton Plaza shopping center on U.S. Highway 278.

Moe’s is moving into the 2,400 square foot, former United Bank building in front of Kroger in between Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen, and is expected to open in the next five to six months, while Rainbow is moving into the 11,500-square foot, former Stacey’s location next to Badcock Furniture and should open in the next four to six weeks.

“In a market similar to ours, anytime you see a national brand locate in your community it is positive. I think it speaks volume to the success of the regional franchise of Bullritos,” said Hunter Hall, president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, in an email.

“Retailers watch each other’s traffic and volume very closely. With our per capita income (a key indicator that retailers look at) being as low as it is in Newton County, Moe’s moving to town is reflection that retail and commercial developers have been watching the Baxter progress. They realize that the average salary of a future Baxter employee is more than double that of a Newton County resident.”

Founded in 2000, Moe’s describes itself as a “fast-casual restaurant franchise serving a wide variety of fresh, made-to-order Southwest fare.” Store owner Hanif Merchant could not be reached Thursday for more details.
The arrival of Moe’s was panned on The Covington News’ Facebook wall as many residents said they would prefer to eat at local burrito/taco shops Burrito Loco and Bullritos.

As for Rainbow, the clothing store will offer another lower-priced, specialty clothing option to the area, but not the large all-purpose clothing store locals are clamoring for. Rainbow is a women’s-only clothing store that focuses on children, junior and plus-size clothing and shoes.

Mitch Mansour, a senior leasing representative with Rainbow, said the store’s price range is generally between $10 and $30.

Mansour said the company is moving to Covington explore a new market along a popular thoroughfare.

“It’s on a road we thought had a lot of car traffic, and it’s not just in a typical neighborhood center; it’s a little more than that,” Mansour said Thursday.

The Covington location should employ around eight to 10 part-time and full-time workers.
Rainbow has a location of Ga. Highway 138 in Conyers and has around 25-30 stores in the Metro Atlanta market, Mansour said.

As for other retail news, Hall said he continues to hear rumors of a Firehouse Subs locating in Covington, but there are no firm details at this time.