GAUTIER -- City officials will celebrate the kick-off of work on the Gautier Town Center on Wednesday with a groundbreaking they're calling a Golden Sledge Hammer ceremony. Mayor Gordon Gollott will host a champagne toast at the north entrance of the current Singing River Mall.
Whats coming up
The Gautier Town Center will comprise a open-air mall, a 32-acre town green and a Super Wal-Mart in place of the mall. Wednesday's ceremony will mark the beginning of the demolition process.
The development of the town center was approved by the city council in March of last year and included the vision of retailers, restaurants, office buildings and parking areas.
A total of 390,000 square feet of leasing area will be demolished, including 75,000 square feet of enclosed space, to transform the area into an open-air mall.
The new establishment will house 380,000 square feet of retailers, according to a press release from Gautier City Manager Samantha Abell.
"Transformative projects like this one can reset a community's economic engine for generations," Abell said. "They require much planning and coordination, and whole lot of patience. Through it all, the (mall) owners have kept the city well informed as true partners in Gautier's commercial revitalization."
Gollott is also excited about the future of Gautier's retail sector, he said in a previous interview with the Sun Herald.
"A Super Wal-Mart will be the first outlet finished there. The sales tax the city will receive from Wal-Mart alone will quadruple what we're getting present-day from the mall," he said in January. "Everything else will just add to it."
Gollott said other large retailers are negotiating with mall developers, but nothing is official.
Abell said city officials believe department store chain Belk plans to remain as part of the open-air mall, but J.C. Penney announced in January it would close its Singing River Mall store effective March 21.
The new shopping center will continue to face U.S. 90.