Hattiesburg — When construction of the $40-million Turtle Creek Crossing retail development, featuring such long-awaited stores as Target and Old Navy, was announced in the late summer of 2004, there was speculation about its effect on Turtle Creek Mall, across the road.
Turtle Creek Mall was just starting to celebrate its 10th anniversary when Tanner Construction of Ellisville began site work on Turtle Creek Crossing in the fall of 2004.
A spokesperson for Turtle Creek Mall said that the opening of a competing retail center so near would actually help Turtle Creek Mall’s business. A University of Southern Mississippi (USM) economic expert agreed.
“It’s like they teach in business school,” according to Mark Goodman, director of the USM Center of Economic Development. “If there’s a popsicle stand on the beach and another opens beside it, they both do better.”
The G.M.J. Corporation (Dallas), the principal contractor, has been doing the construction work and Turtle Creek Crossing is expected to meet its target date and open October 9, according to Bennie Sellers, Hattiesburg city engineer.
While work has been progressing across the road, Turtle Creek Mall has been busy announcing new retailers, opening stores and seeing expansion and remodeling by current tenants.
Four new stores either opened in May or will open this summer.
New opportunities for shoppers
Turtle Creek Mall sales were up during the first week of May, and mall officials feel quite positive about the changes, according to Andrea Saffle, marketing director.
She said that the mall’s theme this year is “Change is Good” and that this “offers a great opportunity to bring in retailers that are new to this market and that our shoppers have been asking for.”
One more new store and several remodels are expected by the end of the year, she indicated. “We have some big plans on the drawing board for 2006, but for that, you’ll just have to wait.”
Other current changes include a new location for Hibbert Sports and the remodeling of Claire’s Accessories. Hibbert, which specializes in athletic shoes, sports apparel and sports equipment, has some 500 square feet more in its new location, next to Express,
Turtle Creek Mall, which draws some eight million shoppers a year, has six department stores, over 90 shops and restaurants and a nine-screen theater. It is an enclosed mall of some 846,000 square feet and has a total of 4,500 parking spaces.
The department — anchor — stores are Sears, McRae’s, McRae’s Center Court, Dillard’s, JC Penney and Goody’s. Other prominent retailers include GAP and GAP Kids, Radio Shack, Kay Jewelers, Treasure Island, Zales Jewelers, American Eagle, Foot Locker, Bath & Beauty Works, General Nutrition Center, American Eagle, Buckle Lane Bryant and Victoria’s Secret.
Part of a trend
Turtle Creek Crossing, Hattiesburg’s largest retail development in a decade, is being built as a power strip center, which is the trend with new shopping centers in the South. At these centers, there is no central, enclosed mall area. The stores are built contiguous to each other but each is entered from the outside. An open-sided overhang covers the walkway that connects the stores.
In addition to Target and Old Navy, the stores include Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetsMart and Kirkland’s. There will also be a Starbuck’s.
“October 9th has been the target date and they’re going to meet it,” according to Sellers. “And a couple of stores might have a ‘soft’ opening a little before October 9.”
Sellers said that the two shopping centers will be linked by a “crossing road,” a connecting road between U. S. 98 and West 4th Street. The three-lane road, a quarter of a mile long, will be finished before the grand opening.
“The crossing road is a joint venture between the Turtle Creek Crossing partners, the City of Hattiesburg and Lamar County,” Sellers said. “The Mississippi Development Authority is providing $2 million toward construction and that’s a major part of the cost.
Turtle Creek Crossing partners are Hattiesburg York Development, Kimco Realty Corp. of New Hyde Park, N.Y., and the Seitz Group of Dallas.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.