Gulfport — Work is expected to begin this month on the new $60-million Crossroads shopping center located on the northeast corner of I-10 and U.S. 49.
“Among people in development circles, that intersection is considered one of the hottest in the Southeast because of the traffic counts,” said Becky Montgomery, commercial development manager for Harrison County Development Commission. “This development will further enhance the draw to our area in general, and to that intersection in particular. We’ll get more regional exposure. It is just a great addition to what we already have. And the people who benefit are the shoppers.”
Mayor Bob Short said the upscale shopping center will add to Gulfport’s attraction for tourists. “We are a tourist destination, and this will be a great draw to bring people in,” Short said. “Once people come for gaming or other activities, it gives them another thing to do in Gulfport.”
The city expects to collect $1 to $2 million per year in sales tax revenue. The planned 675,000-square-foot shopping area will be developed by Gulfport Retail Partners. David Berndt is the managing general partner.
Crossroads, which will be an open shopping center, will bring new stores to the area such as Barnes and Nobles Book Store, T.J. Maxx, Albertsons, Shoe Carnival and GAP Old Navy. Other retailers who have signed lease agreements include Service Merchandise and Office Depot. Crossroads will also have several new restaurants, and Cinemark, a 17-screen movie theater with stadium seating.
“We think the new Cinemark theater and the restaurants will be a major draw,” said Richard Buckman, a development consultant for Crossroads. “People will be able to come in shop, eat and watch a movie in a really nice situation. We’ll see shoppers from Mobile, Slidell and New Orleans areas, and from all the surrounding counties around the Coast.”
The development is in the final process of receiving federal wetland’s development permits. Approval to begin clearing the property is expected this month. “We look forward to getting it under construction,” Buckman said. “I think it is a perfect example of growth along the Coast, an upscale development that will provide numerous jobs and revenues to the local area. It is a sign of things to come.”
Brooks Holstein with Sawyer Real Estate, co-leasing agents for Crossroads Mall with Cohen and Company in New York, said leasing activity at Crossroads and other commercial development along the Coast has been enhanced by a recent Harrison County Development Commission report that recalculated the population of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Until recently the most accurate estimate of the Coast population was 350,000. The development commission did a study that used new car tags and new residential accounts at electric power companies to estimate that the three Coast counties now have a population close to 440,000.
“We had felt for some time that the trade area was well beyond 350,000 people, but weren’t able to quantify it,” Holstein said. “Just that 90,000 difference has made a dramatic impact on the perception of growth that has happened on the Gulf Coast since 1992. It had a significant impact on a couple of retailers who were sitting on the fence trying to decide if this was an area that they could serve profitably.”
Crossroads is located at the same intersection where Gulfport Factory Shops is located. Also, plans have been announced to build a 700,000-square-foot shopping complex on the northwest corner of I-10 and U.S. 49. Eight Coast residents are involved in that proposed development on a 260-acre site located next to the Gulfport Leisure Service Complex, a recreational facility currently under development.
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