By: Sid Riley
Within the next two months, the owner-developers who purchased the Rivergate Shopping Center on Highway 90E in Marianna approximately nine months ago, hope to begin their planned complete remodeling of this aging mall which was once the largest shopping center in Marianna.
The closing of Woolworth’s and the subsequent departure of Winn Dixie and Eckerd Drugs left the once active shopping center in a declining mode.
The same consortium of investors with the Grace Fund that has purchased the vacated Wal-Mart building has invested in purchase of the entire River Gate Shopping Center, with this purchase being made by another subsidiary named Marianna Commons LLC.. Byron Ward, who is one of the investors and will also be in charge of the renovation project, states that these investments are being made by the group in the Marianna market because they see Marianna as a future growth market where much of the demand for retail space can be met through revitalization of existing space instead of investments in new construction.
"Our plans are to do away with River Gate and its existing image. We will create a new, upscale shopping mall called Marianna Commons." Ward explained. "We will begin with a complete rebuilding of the existing parking lot, which needs a lot of work. We are aware of the underlying problems for the parking lot, and are planning an investment approaching $1,000,000 for creation of a good, workable parking area for a completely refurbished, re-roofed, re-imaged, re-vitalized, modern, landscaped shopping mall."
"We anticipate a total investment that will approach $3,000,000 in this complete transformation. The finished product will be a source of pride for the shoppers of Jackson County. We are still exploring several themes for the center," Byron declared.