D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The walls of a prominent building in downtown D'Iberville are coming down. For more than 12-years, the building basically sat empty. This week, the building is being torn down to make room for a major development by Walmart. The retail giant plans to invest $2.7 million to build a smaller, express version of a Walmart.
After enduring some hard punches and tough tugs, the west wall of the old, vacant building on D'Iberville Boulevard came crashing to the ground Monday. Jerry Wigginton said it's about time.
"We've put up with it empty for 15-20 years. It's just an eyesore," he said.
For the city's mayor, the building holds a lot of fond memories. He worked there when it first opened as a Kroger store 30 years ago.
"A lot of people said that's how I won my election, because I cut all the meat for the ladies in the community," said Mayor Rusty Quave with a smile.
According to the city's planning director, Walmart officials said they were losing business to Family Dollar and Dollar General Stores. In order to compete, last month, Walmart bought the old grocery store property.
The retail giant will build the city's first Walmart Neighborhood Market. The 41,000 square-foot-building will offer groceries, a deli and a pharmacy. It will go up just 1.5 miles away from the Walmart Supercenter on Sangani Boulevard.
"Walmart is a super developer and they wouldn't be putting the money into this project if they thought it wasn't going to work. So we feel very fortunate that they're here and this will give our shoppers another opportunity to have a convenient way to shop," said Quave.
"I think it'll keep people from going out of town to buy groceries, because they can get to it much more conveniently," said Wigginton. "I think it'll be a positive step for the city here. At least we'll get the tax revenue."
While the mayor doesn't know yet what kind of economic impact this project will have on his city, he is optimistic that once the market opens, it will spark downtown development and help fill in several empty buildings in the area.
"The Old Central Supply, we're looking at possibly developers coming in purchasing that property, Cajuns, and the old Western Auto building, as well. Once we get those three vacant buildings filled, we are complete, believe it or not. Our downtown will be no vacant buildings," said Quave.
The Walmart Neighborhood Market is scheduled to open in September. The mayor says the store will initially hire 25-30 full-time employees, along with some part time workers.
"A lot of people are excited about it. When we first heard rumors that they were coming, and then it kind of got slow for about a year and people said, 'Well, I don't guess they're coming.' No, they're coming. It just takes time to put one of these projects together."
Just so you know, the old building once housed Delchamps and Jitney Premier stores. It also served as a distribution center and free clinic after Hurricane Katrina.