By JACK WEATHERLY
Two investors are buying in to the intersection of County Line Road and Ridgewood Road.
Between the $900,000 spent on the former Applebee’s in the North Regency Square and the $1.8 million to buy and renovate the old Copeland’s, the total reaches about $2.7 million.
Both spaces had been vacant for several years.
News of the revitalization of the corner comes after the Mississippi Business Journal revealed in August that the Kroger store at 2000 E. County Line Road in Ridgeland, vacant for nearly four years, will soon have new occupants.
Sky Zone, a trampoline-based franchise, and Crunch Fitness, a gym, will divide the 62,000-square-foot building on the opposite eastern end of County Line, long a dominant retail corridor in metro Jackson but which has been struggling to keep its footing as newer retail centers siphon off prestige tenants.
Yasser Alkhatib plans to open a Denny’s in the old Applebee’s spot by the end of October.
Changho Lee is awaiting only his liquor license before he can open Vibe Sports Grill at 6390 Ridgewood Rd.
Both men are naturalized Americans. Lee immigrated 20 years ago from South Korea, and Alkhatib, a native of Damascus, Syria, arrived four decades ago.
Everything is new in Vibe, Lee points out. The place last occupied by Friday Tuna for only a few months, was in disarray, Lee said.
The sports bar will be the first restaurant for Lee who owns 11 beauty supply stores in Mississippi.
He bought the 8,000-square-foot building with 5,000 square feet of dining space and a seating capacity of between 250 and 300, Lee said.
Built by Copeland’s of New Orleans, which operated there for a number of years, it was followed by Friday’s Tuna, which was only in business for a few months.
He has spent five months redecorating the space and replacing the kitchen and all its appliances, plus fixing the leaky roof.
A stage with music equipment has been added for a once-a-week karaoke night, Lee said.
Vibe will offer sports-bar fare, with an oriental twist, such as Korean tacos and wings.
Alkhatib is a believer in Denny’s. The restaurant at North Regency Square will be his 12th franchise in the chain, including one in Pearl.
Alkhatib said of Denny’s: “This is an American diner,” adding that the South Carolina-based chain is “good to deal with.”
“This is a commitment,” he said. “We feel like this is going to be a good spot for this type of business.”
Alan Hart, director of economic development for the city of Ridgeland, agrees.
“I think its a good fit for the area,” Hart said.
And it stands to be good for North Regency Square, which has lost a number of tenants.
It was in the portfolio of Stonemar Properties of New York City, which let the Ridgeland property go in foreclosure, said Jonathan Gould, co-managing member of Stonemar.
The property is now owned by C-III Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based commercial real estate investment management company.
Excluding Denny’s, about 15,482 square feet of the center’s 63,316 square feet was listed as available Tuesday on the website of Collier International, the leasing agent.
Pier 1 Imports and Party City are stalwarts in the shopping center.