GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) – The City of Gautier is now officially the owner of the former Singing River Mall property. That means ambitious development plans for a Town Center that have been years in the making can now move forward.
Gautier was able to purchase the 55-acre property with the help of $3.5 million in RESTORE Act funding, and $1.5 million from the state Legislature’s bond bill. The total purchase price was $5 million.
“The redevelopment of this prime U.S. 90 frontage property will alter the character of the City and give it a unique downtown feel,” Mayor Casey Vaughan said.
“We envision a Town Center where citizens and visitors dine, shop and do business on this property and then spend a nice afternoon playing Pickleball at Town Commons Park or catching a concert at the outdoor amphitheater during the weekend,” he said. “We want a space where you can do it all.”
The former mall was demolished in February 2014, but development has been stifled for years due to its large size and a changing retail environment. City leaders say the developers realized they couldn’t carry an expensive note on such a large piece of property, given that the property must likely be developed in phases.
“This purchase has been a long time coming, and we are eager to make this property a mixed-use development that will serve our citizens and our visitors,” City Manager Paula Yancey said.
“We are planning to build a Mississippi Songwriters Performing Arts Center and turn this property into Gautier’s downtown area in complement to the new Town Commons Park, which will be located adjacent to the site across Dolphin Road,” she said. “Town Commons Park is already under construction.”
Back in September, city leaders unveiled renderings of the Town Center’s amphitheater, which will feature a large shade structure and a turf lawn seating area that can house 1,250 seats in the front with standing room in a common grass area in the back.
“The promoter has heavily weighed in on the design, the things we included,” said Yancey. “We really relied on him because we wanted to make sure that when we built it, we built it for national acts.”
A consultant that helped design similar venues was also brought in to further ensure the design of the amphitheater would be successful.
The park will also have a concession area for multiple food trucks, as well as a large movie screen for community movie nights. In addition, the main entrance to the park has been designed to create a “front door” to Gautier, welcoming people to the city.
The amphitheater is in the schematic design phase and plans on opening bids to contractors this fall with the hopes of beginning construction in early 2022. The current estimate for construction is set to run between $2.5 to $3.5 million.
Watch the videos below to see the full renderings of the Town Commons Amphitheater and the Songwriters Performing Arts Center:
The mayor and City Council would like to thank the city manager, the law firms of Butler Snow and Bordis and Danos, state Rep. John Read, the coastal delegation, the Brumfield family, and city staff “for their support and their hard work that led to making this special day happen,” Vaughan said.
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