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Construction pace poised to pick up

With spring arriving and summer on the horizon, localconstruction projects are moving forward albeit at a slightlyslower pace because of bad weather, officials said.

“This weather has really got everybody bogged down,” saidBrookhaven Building Inspector Steve Moreton, citing recent rainfallacross the area. “It doesn’t dry up before it rains again.”

Paul Barnett also mentioned weather concerns in his plans torelocate his Nissan dealership west of the interstate across fromthe Home Depot under construction on Brookway Boulevard. He said heexpects to be moved into a new facility within a year.

“We want to start construction in August,” Barnett said. “We’retrying to get our site prepped now.”

Barnett said the overall development will be just under $3million.

“We’re excited. It’s going to be a great move for us,” Barnettsaid.

The 16,000-square feet dealership facility will utilize aboutfour acres of a total 10.5-acre site. Part of the site includes alot on Johnny Johnson Drive purchased in May 2004 with theintention of building an office, but Barnett said that lot is nowbeing incorporated into the overall development plans.

Moreton touted the construction of Home Depot.

He said crews would be able move quickly once the roof of thebuilding is finished. The store is scheduled to open around lateJune or early July.

The Nissan lot clearing and Home Depot development have fueledmuch speculation about other possible activities in the area.

Restaurants and a movie theater are among the mentionedpossibilities. Moreton said future development was “highly likely”but nothing was definite now.

“It’s a matter of time, but I don’t have any names at the time,”Moreton said.

Despite persistent rumors of an Arby’s coming to town, Moretonsaid he has had no confirmation of that and has not issued anypermits for development.

“I should be one of the first to know, or I need to be,” Moretonsaid.

Barnett said he has had a lot of inquiries about the possiblepurchase of unused parts of the his property for the Nissandealership. However, he said he planned to evaluate options andmake a decision on how to proceed in the future.

Elsewhere in the city, Moreton mentioned construction of a newbuilding for a Sherwin-Williams paint store on Highway 51 south.Half of the approximately $400,000 building, being constructed onMullen Drive, will be for the store.

“The other half is for future tenants, possibly one or two,”Moreton said.

Also on Highway 51, Moreton said buildings for Bobby Britt’sinsurance office and for Betsy Smith Properties’ real estateoffice.

“About all they lack is landscaping,” Moreton said.

In other commercial activity, a new car wash is being built infront of the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

“It’ll be a unique building because it’s glass,” Moretonsaid.

Co-owner Donald Wayne Bridges said Suds and Shine is scheduledto open May 15.

Bridges said the car wash will be connected with the Murphy gasstation, allowing customers there to pay for car washes andoffering discounts following gasoline purchases. He said it will bethe fourth car wash in the nation to be associated with a Murphystation.

Residential construction appears to be mostly outside the citylimits. Inside the city, Moreton cited several new homes in FisherPark, while outside the city, construction includes apartmentsbeing built on Virginia Avenue and new homes near the Tanglewoodsubdivision.

“It’s slowed down,” Moreton said about residential activity. “Iattribute that to interest rates going up.”

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vicepresident Cliff Brumfield, a former real estate appraiser, saidthere are a number of quality homes for sale in the Brookhavenmarket. He expected residential housing activities to pick up.

“It’s the time of year, spring and summer, when people start tothink about moving and real estate goes on the upswing,” Brumfieldsaid.