Stores, restaurants part of Brookway Blvd. activity

Published 4:34 pm Friday, March 16, 2012

The once quiet Brookhaven Plaza on Brookway Boulevard has suddenly sprung to life.

     Brookhaven Building Inspector Chip Gennaro said permits have been issued for three new businesses to be built at Brookhaven Plaza, which is currently home to only Snap Fitness.

     The development is in the hands of Mike Kimble with Brookhaven Development, LLC., from Baton Rouge, La.

     According to Kimble, the three tenants moving into Brookhaven Plaza will be First Heritage Credit in the smaller building, and First Choice Rental Purchase Store and Los Parilleros Mexican Restaurant in the larger, 38,000-square foot building.

     First Heritage Credit will be moving to Brookhaven Plaza from its current location on Monticello Street, while Los Parilleros Mexican Restaurant will be expanding to their fifth location in Mississippi as they also have locations in Hazlehurst, Pearl, Tylertown and Newton.

     Kimble said he’s confident Brookhaven Plaza will be filled by June.

     “We’re getting a tremendous amount of response from both local retailers and national retailers,” Kimble said. “We have less than 10,000 square feet left to fill with what we’re working on now.”

     Kimble declined to name which companies they were negotiating with, but did say a financial chain and a cleaning company were among them. He said some businesses already in Brookhaven were looking into moving to Brookhaven Plaza.

     Gennaro said the permit for the construction was issued in June 2007, but  the delay in filling the shopping center was due to the downturn in the economy in late 2008. Brookhaven Plaza has been going through bankruptcy since 2008, but was purchased by Brookhaven Development in November 2011.

     Kimble said his company was proud to make a positive change for the area.

     “We were able to take something that was just sitting there vacant and turn it into something for the community and bring tenants in,” he said.

     Gennaro said the center has a total of 16 units and was built as an outer shell with plans to finish the inside of the building with interior walls once they were rented.

     The area is appealing to retailers due to its location, according to Kimble.

     “The location and area makes it attractive to retailers because it’s a very diverse area for shopping,” he said. “You’re drawing from several smaller towns in the area.”

     Dawson Construction of Baton Rouge is doing the work to the inside of the buildings, Gennaro said.

     First Heritage Credit Vice President Melvin Steilman said they’re moving to have a larger office and better parking for their customers.

     “We’re doubling our building size from 750 to around 1,500 square feet,” said Steilman.

     Steilman said First Heritage Credit has 26 locations in Mississippi and added their Brookhaven location in 2010. He said they look forward to further serving the community with its financial needs.

     East of Brookhaven Plaza on Brookway Boulevard, a new restaurant is taking the place of an old one. Opening Tuesday will be Little Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse. The restaurant will be located inside the former Bo Bo Buffet building and will serve a full line of Japanese dishes, including sushi and hibachi.

     Also on Brookway Boulevard but not in Brookhaven Plaza is Cellular Sales, which operates the Verizon store that has recently moved from one location on the north side of the boulevard to another in the former Blockbuster building.

     Nathan Allen Jewelry has moved from their downtown location to Brookway Boulevard just west of Brookhaven Plaza at the intersection of Brookhaven Street. The new store is now open.

     Stephanie Johnson of Nathan Allen Jewelry said they wanted to go to the Boulevard where there was more traffic and better parking.

     “We felt like we could do better being here,” said Johnson. “We have done well downtown, but we thought the move would help our business and give us more exposure.”

     Nathan Allen Jewelry has been open since September of 2010 and employs a jeweler, Allen Johnson, which Stephanie Johnson said sets them apart from most.

     “I don’t know of any other jewelry store in Brookhaven that has a jeweler in house like we do,” said Johnson. “We do all of our alternations and re-sizing right here.”