GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier's $90 million master plan to replace Singing River Mall in the heart of the city could be pushed back until 2016. Leaders and residents had high hopes for the building that was demolished last year.
A new Walmart was expected to open by late spring with the open-air mall to follow. Those who live and work in the city are trying to remain optimistic, but hope is fading fast.
Brad Nixon Owns Big Dog Liquor in Gautier. It is across the street from a grassy field that was once Singing River Mall in the heart of the city.
"Once the mall closed down it hurt business a little bit."
Nixon said seeing no Walmart going up and the open-air mall project moving at a snail's pace is frustrating. He's also hearing rumors with no answers.
"You want the city to grow not tear down buildings, you want to put buildings up," Nixon said.
A few doors down, Carolyn Hankton owns a local thrift store.
"It has not just affected me, but many stores have closed," said Hankton.
Gautier's Mayor Gordon Gollott was out-of-town Wednesday, but told WLOX over the phone the city's $90 million project is being lead by a private developers, Morrison USA. They are working diligently to bring in retail outlets and big box stores to the city.
The mayor says at this time, there is no information on what exact stores will be part of the mall project, but city's staff continues to work on a timeline with the developers. Gollott said hopefully construction can start in 2016.
"We were all told it was going to be here and it never came, so it is kind of disappointed," said Gautier Resident Kayla Mallard.
Employee Kayla Mallard works at Snapper Landing Restaurant. She and other Gautier business owners and residents admit there's not much they can do now, but to watch, wait and see how things turn out.
"My philosophy is once I start seeing movement on the site then I will believe it, ya know," said Nixon.
"I am hoping something comes there, so we can have somewhere to shop in our community," said Hankton.
City Manager Samantha Abell said the city's staff met with project owners three weeks ago and they're are satisfied with their investment to date and commitment to a town center project.