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More retail on the way to Bloomfield

A couple of years ago when Spectrum Capital, LLC, unveiled plans for Bloomfield (above aerial photo), it promised the lifestyle development would be large and offer a wealth of well-known stores and businesses in Pearl. With Bass Pro Shops and the Mississippi Braves already in the portfolio, Spectrum reaffirmed that promise when it announced last week but yet another major player, Sam’s Club, was coming to the Rankin County site.

“We are thrilled Sam’s chose our Bloomfield site for their newest store location in Central Mississippi,” says Jason Voyles president of Spectrum, an affiliate of The Yates Companies Inc. “It speaks volumes about the growth in our area when nationally known brands such as Sam’s Club and Bass Pro Shops continue locating in our market.

“From the outset our vision for Bloomfield has been to create something unique and exciting for families to enjoy together for years to come. Now, that vision is becoming reality.”

Joining the Club

Sam’s Club has purchased land at Bloomfield, which encompasses 166 acres and is located near the intersection of Interstate 20, Interstate 55, U.S. 80 and U.S. 49, for an undisclosed sum. The 15-acre parcel is adjacent to Bass Pro Shops.

Sam’s, a division of Wal-Mart and the largest warehouse club in the U.S., is expected to begin construction in March 2008 and open sometime before year’s end.

The store is expected to encompass approximately 135,000 square feet. Most Sam’s Clubs include a pharmacy, tire and battery, photo, bakery, optical, café and floral departments in addition to offering groceries, clothing and other general merchandise. The average Sam’s employs 175 workers.

Today, Sam’s serves more than 47 million U.S. members and operates more than 580 locations nationwide, as well as more than 100 international locations in Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Stay tuned

The coming of Sam’s is just one component of the phase two development at Bloomfield. (Phase one was Bass Pro Shops and Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves, a minor league baseball affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.) Phase two, which Spectrum made public back in April of this year, will feature The Outlets at Bloomfield, a 315,000-plus-square-foot open-air outlet center, a Holiday Inn and, now, Sam’s Club. Additionally, several shopping, dining and entertainment attractions, will soon be announced, according to Spectrum. In total, the project will consist of 80 apparel, home furnishing, accessories and specialty stores.

Work on the site is at full tilt. An additional roadway that will serve as a turn lane off of I-20 exit onto U.S. 49 and continuing westbound along U.S. 80 to the primary entrance of Bloomfield is underway and is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The clearing of the site for The Outlets at Bloomfield is nearly complete.

Voyles says more is yet to come as businesses learn of the high traffic count the area offers and the development gains momentum.

“Our traffic count is one of the highest in the state,” he says. “The local economy is booming. We have a strong labor force. And we have the state’s only Bass Pro Shop and professional baseball stadium as existing tenants, which draws more than two million people a year to Bloomfield.

“In the past, convincing national retailers to take a serious look at our site was a challenge. However, this is not the case today. Retailers from all over the country are coming to Bloomfield, and the project is selling itself.”

More growth is envisioned not just at Bloomfield, but also in Pearl and across Rankin County. A handful of years ago, few saw Pearl as a potential retail hub. But the city is becoming just that, and more can be expected, says Tom Troxler, executive director of Rankin First Economic Development Authority.

“This is economic development in its purest form,” Troxler says. He adds that in addition to the state’s highest traffic count, other pluses for the area include a rapidly growing population and the landing of such entities as Bass Pro Shops and now Sam’s Club.

“Bass Pro Shop was the state’s first shopping destination store, meaning people drove in specifically to shop there,” Troxler explains. “Now, Pearl is getting to be known as a shopping destination. We are definitely on retailers’ map now.”

Voyles agrees that Bass Pro Shops and Trustmark Park have laid a firm foundation for Bloomfield. He says Bass Pro Shops could be looked at as a loss leader — it takes a lot of capital to get a project of that kind out of the ground. However, it offers a tremendous trickle-down as it draws the attention of other major retailers.

Voyles says Spectrum, the development arm of Yates, is focusing on getting The Outlets finished, but it has more on its plate. Spectrum is working two other projects — Tracage, a 24-story condominium project in New Orleans, and a $150-million development in the Southeast that Voyles was not at liberty to discuss at press time.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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