Tabor Construction and Development bought the building which formerly housed Fred's on South Jackson Street in Starkville, seen in this Dispatch file photo from earlier this year, and is in talks with several retail companies interested in locating there. The building is one of several prime developments where businesses could locate in Starkville.
Photo by: Dispatch file photo
November 2, 2019 10:00:17 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
STARKVILLE -- A number of retail outlets and developers want to make use of vacant store spaces in Starkville, representatives from the retail development firm Retail Strategies told the board of aldermen at Friday's work session.
Highway 12 used to be home to Payless ShoeSource, the fast-food outlet Bumper's Drive-In of America and the restaurant Huddle House, and the discount home goods store Fred's used to be on South Jackson Street within sight of Highway 12. All four spaces are now empty, but the Fred's building has a new owner and is courting new businesses.
Meanwhile, retailers are staking their claim on the College View mixed-use development on the northwest edge of Mississippi State University's campus, Retail Strategies portfolio director William Turnley and retail development coordinator John Jackson told the board. Businesses are also "extremely interested" in an upcoming shopping center at the intersection of Highway 12 and Industrial Park Road, Turnley said.
"It's going to be a home run for the city," Turnley said. "It's going to generate a whole lot of tax revenue for you guys, so we're excited about that and we hope things move forward the way they're planning."
Retail Strategies, which is based out of Birmingham, Alabama, has overseen Starkville's retail recruitment since February 2016, and its contract includes providing regular updates to the aldermen.
Fred's filed for bankruptcy in September and closed all its stores nationwide. Six weeks ago, Tabor Properties purchased the 16,000-square-foot Fred's building, founder Larry Tabor told The Dispatch. He is open to leasing the entire building to one business or dividing it between two or three and using part of it as storage space, he said.
An independent laundromat company from the Delta region wants to move into 2,500 or 3,000 square feet of the building as soon as possible. Tabor said his firm's representatives are in touch with other retailers, but hope they might reach an agreement with the laundromat company in the next month. He added the entire building needs a new roof and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The speed at which empty retail spaces get new owners depends on what each business wants, Mayor Lynn Spruill said. Payless and Bumper's have been vacant for a while, in contrast to Fred's.
"There are spaces we have that get picked up very quickly and others maybe not so quickly, but I think it's certainly a desirable area," Spruill said.
What retailers are looking for
Some retailers with locations in Columbus have expressed interest in Starkville but have not found the right space, Jackson said. He and Tabor agreed that location is a top priority for incoming retailers.
They also often want to be in close proximity to similar outlets, developer Mark Castleberry said.
"Clothing stores want another clothing store by them, or they want shoes," he said. "The synergy has become much, much more critical, and I think that may be why some of the vacancies have occurred in some of the (shopping) centers. The tenant mix is just not there."
Castleberry's company, Castle Properties, is developing a new retail center at the corner of Highway 12 and Industrial Park Road where the Garan Manufacturing building currently is. Garan is scheduled to move to a new location at the North Star Industrial Park in northern Starkville, and the board of aldermen approved a tax-increment financing plan in August for Castleberry to build a shopping center on the 10-acre site. An ALDI grocery store is the first confirmed tenant, and Castle Properties is in talks with TJ Maxx.
Castleberry said he will meet with TJ Maxx and other retailers at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Atlanta later this month.
"Hopefully after that, we'll have a lot better idea of the lineup," he said.
Other potential developments
Turnley gave the aldermen a list of the variety of retail tenants with plans to move into College View: a coffee shop, a pizza place and a fitness center that provides spin classes, he said.
The complete development will include 656 beds for upperclassmen, 46,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, recreational amenities, an outdoor entertainment zone, a 7,000 square-foot day care center and parking. The first phase of the $67 million project, the upperclassmen residences, was completed recently and according to plan, MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said.
Negotiations with potential retailers should be completed in the near future and "in a timely manner," he said.
Turnley and Jackson declined to be specific about potential brands and chains interested in coming to Starkville, with a few exceptions including the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based sports bar, Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar. The restaurant has locations in six Southern states and its only current Mississippi location is in Hattiesburg, but it has had its eye on Starkville for a while, Turnley said.
"(This is) a prime example of how persistence pays off," he said. "We've been working with them for years and just didn't want to let them forget about Starkvegas. They like college towns, they like this community and they're coming. It's just a matter of where."
Another burger chain with a strong presence in the South, mostly in Alabama and Tennessee, is making its way into Mississippi and could find a home in Starkville, Jackson said.
"They don't like to pay a lot of money, but they're very particular with their land, so we're trying to get creative on a couple things," Jackson said.
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