Planned demolition of Singing River Mall bittersweet for some

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - It was a nearly vacant parking lot Friday afternoon at Singing River Mall in Gautier. Stores are closing, or relocating, as the building prepares for demolition.

Shoppers were coming to soak in their last retail opportunities there.

"I'm just sad that it's closing," said Rhonda Franklin. "I wish that they'd kind of keep it the same, but just bring more stores in."

Nora Bryant has been shopping at Singing River Mall for more than 30 years. But her Friday trip was extra special.

"I came over here shopping," said Bryant. "I'm going to be a great grand-mother and my great grand baby's going to be born in Ireland."

A shopping trip aimed to welcome new life, doubled as a farewell visit to her favorite mall.

"We're all really sad over it closing," said Bryant.

As the building is prepared for demolition, stores like Universal Imports are re-locating. The store moved just across the street to Jackson Square Shopping Center. Owners feel the mall revitalization project is a positive thing.

"Yes, it was hard, but we have to move because once they're going to make the new shopping center, it will be something exciting," said Raj Chugani.

Mall Manager Angela Bishop said in the late 1990s there were about 70 stores thriving in the mall building. Now, there's about 15. Soon, most of the stores will be moved out. It's something that's very bittersweet for a lot of loyal costumers.

"I'd say that we're sad to see you go and we can't wait to see you coming back and hope that there will be some new stores this time," said Nora Bryant.

During the demolition process, JC Penney and Belk will remain open. But, as all the other stores continue to close, and the mall sees fewer and fewer customers, many are assured that the promise of what's to come will be worth it.

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