As the mall comes down, business hopes rise in Gautier

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Demolition is the sound of progress in Gautier as Singing River Mall slowly disappears. It could also be the future sound of prosperity.

Midas is located just across the highway from the mall. The new town center may give this business a lift, according to manager John Cozad.

"I'm hoping it brings us a lot. The impact, I think between the people working on it and then the people coming will be a lot better and generate a lot more business for us," Cozad said.

At Snapper Landing restaurant, the feeling is the same for owner Jason Green.

"It's going to bring new people and more people to the area. I think it's going to create a whole lot more new jobs here, and I think it's actually going to make more people want to come here. I think altogether it's going to be a good thing," Green said.

One of the reasons why business owners and managers are highly anticipating the opening of this open air mall, as well as the Walmart, is that it could make Gautier a destination again for shoppers. It could also mean a busier cash register at Big Dog Liquor for owner James Nixon.

"I don't see anything but very positive. Bringing people back to Gautier from Pascagoula and Ocean Springs, giving them a reason to come to Gautier and shop, we are just waiting for that to open," Nixon explained.

So are the owners of the Carpet Mart.

"We're so excited," John Kotsakos beamed. "We think it's going to be great for the economy. It's going to be great for the city. Gautier needs it bad and we hope there's more to come."

Those hopes may soon be fulfilled. The only store that will remain on the mall site is Belk, which is still open for business.

Demolition on the rest of the property will take several months, then construction on the Walmart and other retail outlets will begin. The first stores in the new shopping complex are expected to open in late 2015.

City officials say as many as 700 permanent jobs will be created with the opening of the Town Center.

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