New owners have now been in charge of Prattville's High Point Town Center for seven months. The shopping center went bankrupt two years ago and has problems filling its vacant storefronts. So has it changed?
Alabama News Network spoke to workers at several businesses back in February who were hopeful that the new ownership would bring more businesses in, but while some retailers say traffic has picked up, it's not enough for others, who tell us they're struggling to make ends meet....
Since it's opening in 2008, Prattville's High Point Town Center was almost bare. Just months ago, property managers tell us only 36 percent of it was occupied. But since Jim Wilson and Associates took over, it's up to 50 percent. Six more stores have been added, including Chappy's Deli...
"It was unbelievable the people! And they kept coming! When we cut off, they'd knock on the door and come in when we opened up," Said David Barrenco, owner of Chappy's Deli.
But Cathy Stough who owns artistic expressions, says she's not seeing the traffic...
"There's seven locally owned small businesses that you have to directly pass. Every one of us, and I've spoke to the owners of those businesses, every one of us are hurting in walk-in business," Said Stough.
She says in the last year, she's lost more than $30,000. And she thinks if these stores fill up it would help her retail sales. But president of Jim Wilson and Associates, Will Wilson, is asking for the public's patience in filling up the empty spaces.
"Once you make a deal with that person you got to negotiate a lease, you got to draw plans for them to build, you gotta build the store, then you gotta get them open. Depending on their size, it could take three months, it could take a year." Said Wilson.
The property manager tells us they just wrapped up opening their first wave of tennants and now they're working on their second wave. In fact, they had two national chain food restaurants looking into the shopping center today. They did not tell us the names of those restaurants.
High Point Town Center has signed leases for about 35,000 square feet of space, but the shopping center is about 175,000 square feet.