BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi shopping center has found a new direction - and with that - new energy and new business growth.
Most of the doors at Edgewater Village are wide open, but it wasn't long ago that the lack of tenants was shocking.
"I thought maybe they were going away," said Evelyn Gregory of Pass Christian. "I really did. It was kind of, I didn't like it a bit."
Former Gulfport resident Linda Smith is well aware of the tough times with the center.
"Oh, yes. Broke my heart," Smith said. "I would come here and I kept saying and hearing that, 'Oh, the Coast is coming back, the Coast is coming back.' And I would come, and I would look, and I would just get really depressed."
Katrina did a number on business, although things began improving a few years back. In 2015, Tulane University relocated to the north end.
In May, Rushmore Properties out of Chicago took ownership of the center.
"And since that point, we've been doing more traditional retail deals and leases where tenants have gotten tenant improvement money from landlord in order to make their deals and leases work," said Monte Luffey with Southeast Commercial Real Estate.
And with the new energy at Edgewater Village comes two very happy groups of people - tenants and customers.
El Saltillo owner Jorge Flores has been at Edgewater Village since 2009. He says seen the bad and the good, and plans re-sign his lease in March for another five years.
"Was a tough time, yeah, 2010 was kind of low in this area," Flores said. "After that, we started to get more tenants coming to the shopping center and that's when we started better business."
Other businesses are re-signing as well, and new ones are on the way. In 2016, the center will welcome Hibbett Sports and Tuesday Morning.
Stein Mart has been at the center for four years, and also plans a long-term residency.
"We see the foot traffic from people coming from restaurants," said manager Amanda Dunn. "But with more of the stores coming, we're excited because it's going to bring more traffic."
There are currently about 19 stores at Edgewater Village. Luffey says there are about 20,000 square feet of space available, but he has several interested parties on the radar.