The portion of Hitchcock Plaza that once housed Stein Mart has been demolished and Academy Sports and Outdoors is expected to occupy that space by the summer.

Big changes have been noticed at the shopping center after demolition of the space was completed in mid-January, said Cameron Zurbruegg of Hendon Properties which operates the plaza.

Crews have started to work on site as they prepare to construct the new sporting goods store.

Academy Sports' opening date is tentatively scheduled for mid-July of this year.

The new retail facility will be approximately 62,000 square feet in size, Zurbruegg said.

The sporting goods store announced that it was coming to Aiken last summer. The space the retailer chose to locate at had been vacant for several years after Stein Mart closed its doors in 2009.

The closest Academy Sports and Outdoors is located in Evans, Ga. According to the website, South Carolina currently has four locations of the sporting goods store.

Academy offers athletic and casual clothes and footwear as well as a large selection of sporting equipment, according to its website.

Other current construction includes Sam's Club on the corner of Robert M. Bell Parkway and Highway 1 in the county.

Renovations of the South Park Shopping Center on Whiskey Road within the Aiken City limits, where the highly-anticipated Fresh Market will locate, is also ongoing.

Both retailers anticipate to open later this year.