Shopping Center In East Gulfport Showing New Signs Of Life

Marv Wetzel owns a custom framing shop. He has a very clear picture of what the Village Square Shopping Center looked like in 1992, when he managed the property for a New Orleans group.

"It was rundown, empty, hard to get people in here," he said.

Nine years later, things have definitely changed. The changes started in 1998 when local owners bought Village Square. They put a $1.5 million into the shopping center and began renting its empty spaces. Now Village Square is full, and it's starting to make a splash in Gulfport's economy.

"Last count, I think it was 22,000 people a day pass by the store here on Pass Road," Gulfport merchant Paul Castillion said.

That sort of exposure was enough to convince him to bring his pool equipment to east Gulfport.

"The area growing like it has helped the Village Square Shopping Center to expand and new businesses open up," Castillion said.

Dave Stritar owns one of those new businesses. He invited his new Village Square neighbors to a ribbon cutting, officially opening his sub shop.

"I just think it's the right place at the right time," Stritar said.