Emails suggest Gautier's Walmart project in jeopardy

Emails suggest Gautier's Walmart project in jeopardy

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Emails anonymously sent to WLOX News detail conversations in late May and early June between Gautier leaders and the developers who said Walmart would be built on the old Singing River Mall site. In a June 2 email from city manager Samantha Abell, she tells the city council, "Walmart is taking a position, and it is not favorable to this project."

Tuesday, Gautier Mayor Gordon Gollott said no decisions about Walmart and whether it will be built on Highway 90 have been finalized.

"I know that the mall developers are developing seven sites across the US," said Mayor Gordon. "They're negotiating with Walmart at this time."

Morrison USA is the private developer that invested more than $9.5 million so far at that Singing River Mall location, either buying out stores, or demolishing the mall.

The mayor keeps being told the Morrison group is determined to develop that location.  He said when Morrison executives talk with the mayor, they keep telling him,

"This is going to be a development that you will be proud of."

Gollott said the developers are doing their due diligence, negotiating with potential tenants for the Singing River Mall site.

"They have continued to inform us that they're working with retail developers, including Walmart," the mayor said.

Gollott won't get specific about the tenants under consideration because Morrison executives have asked the city not to release that information.

Gollott understands the importance of the Singing River Mall site as an economic driver for his city. He said the number one question people ask him focuses on what will be built on the old Singing River Mall property, and when it will be constructed.

"When it gets finished, it's going to be a very large asset for the city of Gautier," said Gollott.

Councilwoman at large Mary Martin is getting tired of waiting. "We haven't heard anything," she said. And the councilwoman wants answers.

"I'm just thoroughly disgusted with it," she said. "I haven't heard anything. We have a council meeting tonight and that's one of the things I plan on asking Samantha [Abell the city manager].  Do we have an update on the mall?"

Lee Brumfield with Brumfield Properties in Ocean Springs has been working on this project.

"They had committed to us to be open in 2015," Brumfield noted when talking in generic terms about the Walmart development.  "They implored us to do whatever it took to get their site ready to be open in 2015."

When asked if Gautier was still on Walmart's radar, Brumfield said, "At this time, I just don't have any comment."

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