WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - It was about 18 months ago at the groundbreaking for the largest shopping center ever to be built in Wiggins that a California investor predicted an oncoming "gold rush" of real estate development in South Mississippi. That prediction has not come true.
Mayor Jerry Alexander says the economic downturn has caused some major local projects including the shopping center to stall.
MDOT crews are building storm drains along a new Highway 49 service road in Wiggins. The road is to allow access to a shopping center yet to surface despite breaking ground back in early 2008. Wiggins' mayor says after a long delay plans are now moving ahead.
"The project on Highway 49, the shopping center is back on," said Mayor Alexander. "The original developer sent it back to the finance company that he had it financed on account of these economical times. And right now the new owner, contractor is getting our frontage road built back."
Mayor Alexander says other major developments have yet to get back on track. He says work has stopped on the half-completed Hampton Inn and Suites on Highway 49 and two banks put their building plans on hold.
"We're disappointed in those projects being put on hold, but we understand why," Alexander said.
The mayor says Wiggins sales tax revenues are down $140,000 so far this year. He's hopeful the economic upswing is on the horizon.
Alexander said, "Things are going to get better. All indications are that we are coming out of whatever we've been in and tight, tight economic development. Now is the time to get ready."
Mayor Alexander says several national chains have said they have an interest in coming to the shopping center, but he is not at liberty to reveal the names of those companies.