National retailers T.J. Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Petco and Shoe Carnival are slated to open later this year in the shopping center, which has been largely vacant for the past few years.
Work began Monday to raze the building that formerly housed First National Bank of Jasper, and construction crews are expected to be on-site over the next few days to begin work.
The redevelopment of the shopping center will create approximatley 100 jobs and bring in more than $500,000 a year in sales tax for the city. The project is expected to be complete by fall 2014.
“This has been a long process, and a lot of hard work, leadership and dedication, and I would like to thank all participants, partnerships and Forward Walker County investors in making this the first of many new retail opportunities to be located in our area,” said Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County. “We are very excited that this will bring added revenue to our county and approximately 100 newly created jobs.”
Robert Jolly, a partner in national consulting firm Retail Strategies, said the redevelopment shows what can be accomplished when city and county leaders join together.
“This would not have happened without the city getting behind it,” Jolly said. “It truly is what a public-private partnership is all about, where everybody wins. These are great retailers. These are not discount, second-tier retailers. These are retailers that any city wants to have in their community.”
Jolly said the redevelopment could also lead to more retailers taking a close look at Jasper and Walker County.
“These are the type retailers that other business want to be around,” he said. “This is going to be a great catalyst for other recruitment, and I think the city has stepped up to make this happen.”
“This is huge for the city,” said Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey. “We’ve been looking forward to this for several months. We’ve known for a few months that — barring anything unforeseen — this was going to happen, and today marks the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people from a lot of different entities, all pulling together. And it worked.”
The cooperation between city and county officials was the key to the project coming to fruition, Posey said.
“You cannot beat the cooperation,” he said. “I don’t know what we would have done without it. Everybody’s on board, and because of that you’re going to see great things happen here.
“This is just the beginning,” he added.