Center interest increasing

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, January 15, 2012

The single occupant of a nearly emptyshopping center on Brookway Boulevard may finally see some companyin the near future.

    First Choice Home Furnishings and an unidentified Mexicanrestaurant have signed leases to move into the center, according torecords filed with the city Building Inspector Chip Gennaro. Only aSnap Fitness outlet occupies the center right now.

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    Two more leases could be signed soon, Gennaro said.

    Local chamber of commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfieldhas heard similar things.

    “I know there has been a decent amount of activity surrounding thecenter,” Brumfield said. “Companies have looked into it.”

    Kimble Development, a Baton Rouge, La.-based company specializingin retail center development, purchased the center around November2011, Brumfield said.

    The timetable by which new businesses in the center could open forbusiness remains unknown, but Gennaro said he has already issuedpermits allowing First Choice Home Furnishings to do furtherconstruction. The building inspector said building plans for theMexican restaurant are on file, but he has issued no permits.

    Brumfield said further construction is necessary because theinterior of retail centers like the one in Brookhaven are typicallyleft unfinished until tenants are found.

    “As far as the other buildings besides Snap Fitness, it’s reallyjust a shell,” the chamber vice president said.

    The interior can be finished according to the tenant’sspecifications, explained Brumfield.

    The center has struggled to get off the ground.

    Brumfield said the original construction began around 2005. Thebuilder sold the center in 2007 to a company that later wentthrough bankruptcy proceedings.

    “Just as the center was coming together the economy took a majorhit and as times are improving we are seeing some local interest,”Brumfield said.

    Brumfield hopes to see the center thriving in the near future,though.

    “Hopefully those that do come would fit well with the local mix byproviding something that we don’t have,” Brumfield said.

    A potential Mexican restaurant would join a recent buzz of activityby restaurants. The Bo Bo Buffet recently moved to a new location,1211 Brookway Blvd. The former site of the Bo Bo Buffet will becomea Little Tokyo Japanese Hibachi and Sushi. Its opening date isunknown.

    The Iron Horse also opened in December in the Inez and has beenserving customers since.