LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The old Long Beach Senior Citizens Center is no longer an eyesore. A developer is giving the Katrina scarred downtown building new life as retail space.
That developer bought the building at auction last year and immediately began renovations. He says the building is one piece of a much larger plan to make Jeff Davis Avenue a great place to shop, a great place to eat and a great place to call home.
The buzz at that building, and throughout downtown Long Beach that isn't going unnoticed.
"I like what they've done to this place, how more businesses are coming back," said Ethan Ladner while she shopped along Jeff Davis Avenue in the heart of downtown Long Beach.
Renovation crews are preparing to welcome a restaurant and a boutique as the first tenants to a new shopping center. Soon customers will be coming in and out of a building that for many years sat boarded up and abandoned.
"We came in here with our contractor, gutted the entire building, opened it up with many window lines," said Billy Legier, of De La Tour Holdings. "We kept the ceiling exposed so we could take advantage of the cathedral type ceilings with our joist . We think it's beautiful."
Since New Orleans-based De La Tour Holdings also owns other commercial buildings right next to the latest renovation, the company wanted to make it as convenient as possible for people to walk from one shop to another. The company reduced the square footage during the renovations so that covered walkways could be added and purchased a back lot for customers to be able to park and go from the restaurant to the yogurt shop to the art gallery.
"We want to create one large shopping center district that is with our tenants next door," said Legier. "We want everyone to come here, park off street where it's pedestrian friendly. It's convenient and we can all shop together. Go from one store to the next. So when people come here it's not just a one and done experience."
The developer hopes his project will inspire others to invest here. "We see other vacant parcels of land for example up and down Jeff Davis," Legier said. "We believe with the success of these developments that is going to help encourage other developers like ourselves to come here, build from the ground up. Help other retailers that want to be on Jeff Davis come back to Jeff Davis."
De La Tour Holdings also has a commercial development on Davis Avenue in Pass Christian. Officials said they have plans to add second story apartments on top of those businesses like they have in Long Beach.