GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Singing River Mall is not a popular shopping destination. Not even for locals.
"It's probably never lived up to its potential," said First District Supervisor Manly Barton. "We have a lot of people who shop in the Mobile or Biloxi area."
Encore Retail, the same company that has developments in D'Iberville, is trying to invest in Singing River's future. But they need help from local government first. They are asking for it in the form of TIF bonds, where local governments pledge to give back a large percent of the money it earns from the new development. Encore told the Jackson County Board of Supervisors they may be asked for sixty percent. Last week, the company also asked the Gautier City Council for help funding the project.
"If we don't receive the TIF, it's very highly likely it will not happen," Thorton Anderson of Encore Retail told the board.
Supervisors say TIF bonds are rare in Jackson County.
"Since I've been on the board, we've never issued any TIF bonds, and that's the reason I've been asking so many questions," said Fourth District Supervisor Tommy Brodnax.
The county approved an agreement with the City of Gautier and Encore Retail to start negotiating the new development. Encore hasn't released any plans for what the mall could look like, and hasn't mentioned the names of any stores that could become part of it. The county, city, and company have simply decided to start looking into the development.
"That's what they've come to us and asked, is if we would consider joining in with the City of Gautier and try to help them offset some of the initial infrastructure costs on that project," said Barton.
Brodnax says the initial agreement marks the beginning of a long process. He specifies that the board has not yet promised to help with funding.