Retail properties flying off the shelves in South Mississippi

 Edgewater Village at U.S. 90 and Eisenhower Drive in Biloxi
MARY PEREZ/SUN HERALD Edgewater Village at U.S. 90 and Eisenhower Drive in Biloxi

Two shopping centers in South Mississippi have new owners and another has new management as the commercial real estate market on the Coast is in a boom.

Edgewater Village on Eisenhower Drive was sold last week to Rushmore Properties LLC of Chicago and Stirling Properties was awarded the management contract for Handsboro Square on Pass Road in Gulfport, which is anchored by Rouses Market.

"I think there's definitely more happening now than there has been in years," said Kenneth Jones II, commercial agent/manager at Coldwell Banker Commercial Alfonso Realty in Gulfport.

He and Sam Ford were the selling agents for a shopping center at 9113 U.S. 49 in Gulfport and Carl LaRosa was the listing agent,

"The current tenant of the building is the Scrub Shop and Coastal Family Health is planning to open in late June or July," he said. The new owner plans to open a furniture store at the shopping center, Jones said, but also has received many inquiries from prospective tenants who want to lease space in the 13,000-square-foot building on 1.1 acres of land.

The rate of return for real estate investment in other areas of the country is going down, Jones said, "So they're coming here and looking for better rates of return."

He's told investors are getting out of the stock market and putting their money in real estate. Coldwell Banker has four income-producing properties under contract, including retail, office and industrial property.

"They're buying an income stream," he said. Most are looking at the tenants, the cash coming in and the expenses. "See if the numbers work," he said.

He expects to see more new commercial construction if the market continues, since even properties that have been sitting vacant since the downturn in the economy now are being leased.

Edgewater Village

Southeast Commercial Real Estate of Gulfport facilitated the sale of Edgewater Village Shopping Center in Biloxi and has been awarded the exclusive management and leasing contract by the new owner. The shopping center at U.S. 90 and Eisenhower, just west of Edgewater Mall, was purchased last week. It is Rushmore Properties' first property in South Mississippi, said Monte Luffey, Southeast Commercial principal.

"We actually had about 13 offers come in on the center," he said.

"The new ownership is going to aggressively pursue new tenants to grow the retail mix at the center and further the economic growth of one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's premier retail corridors," Luffey said.

Soon to be announced will be a national retailer that will fill 12,500 square feet early next year and Luffey said he expects to announce other new tenants soon.

The 140,000-square-foot open-air shopping center has 23 retail spaces. Four free-standing parcels and a limited number of spaces are available for lease.

Since 2014, Southeast Commercial has handled leasing for the previous owner of Edgewater Village. The company increased the shopping center's occupancy rate from 35 percent to 80 percent by attracting new, high-profile tenants such as Tulane University, Humana, Mugshots Grill and Bar and Sumo Japanese Steakhouse.

Handsboro Square

Stirling Properties handles leasing for Handsboro Square and now will take on daily management.

Handsboro Square is a 156,544-square-foot shopping center at 1307-1355 East Pass Road and previously was home to K-Mart. The center is 44 percent occupied and retail space is available.

In addition to Rouses, tenants include Rent-A-Center, Panda House, Wing Stop and Golden Nails Spa.

"Stirling Properties is thrilled to add Handsboro Square to our growing management portfolio, and we look forward to providing the Gulfport community and surrounding areas with great shopping and dining opportunities,' said Charles Barclay, Stirling Properties assistant asset manager. The company is seeking new tenants to further develop a variety of retail and restaurant options.

Stirling Properties manages 17 million square feet of property and has 81 million square feet of property and land for sale or lease, mostly in Louisiana.

Among the other Stirling Properties management and development projects in Mississippi are Commodore Plaza Shopping Center in Gulfport, Turtle Creek Shopping Center in Hattiesburg, Westland Plaza in Jackson and Crossgates Shopping Center in Pearl.