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Retailers celebrate booming business in Pine Bluff; one-year-old Regency Square takes advantage of busy throughfare.

One-Year-Old Regency Square Takes Advantage of Busy Throughfare

Business is booming at the newest shopping center in Pine Bluff. Regency Square has experienced a real "if you build it, they will come" growth since it opened a little more than a year ago, according to Harvey Sizemore of Sizemore Properties.

Regency's location is ideal for a shopping area, he said. The intersection of Catalpa Street and 28th Avenue is one of the busiest corners in the city. With County Market, a major local grocery store, and a branch of Simmons First National Bank in the same area, Regency seemed ripe for development. A Highway Department traffic count indicated that more than 55,000 vehicles are in the area every 24-hour period, Sizemore said.

Sizemore's father bought all the property at the County Market/Regency Square location years ago, and a Kmart was built on the site. Kmart left the area, and County Market opened a grocery store where Kmart had been. Before Regency was built, Sizemore and his associates took a good look at the area.

"Pine Bluff seems like it has grown to the southwest part of town," he said. "One day we just stood out in the County Market parking lot and watched all the traffic go in and out."

The rest is modern history. One unit was built and rented almost immediately. Before the new shopping center was complete, it was almost 80 percent rented, Sizemore said.

The 12-acre site has 110,000 SF of rental space with 31 businesses currently operating. Only nine units remain to be rented, Sizemore said.

The location is a major part of the success of Regency, but Sizemore has also maintained a mix of business offices, restaurants and retail stores that bring in a variety of consumers every day.

Patrick Strachota, who relocated his business from Olive Street to Regency Square, says Record Rack is doing very well at the new location.

"We combined two stores, Record Rack and the Rock Shop, into a larger store," he said. He has added a small skateboard shop as well.

Strachota discovered that the two restaurants in the area provide more walk-in business as people browse before and after dinner. He is also seeing older customers joining the teens that frequented at his previous location.

Another Pine Bluff shopping area, The Pines mall, opened in July 1986, and it is still one of most popular places in Pine Bluff to shop, see a movie, eat or, for teens, to hang out.

Candy Spencer, spokesman for The Pines, says the mall is anything but static; it is a growing, changing shopping center for all of southeast Arkansas.

"It's exciting," she said. "There are so many good things happening."

One of the good things for local residents is the opening of eight more theater screens, bringing the total at The Pines to 12 movie screens. The new theaters expanded First International Theater's space at The Pines to 20,676 SF.

"Now we get a lot of first-run movies here," Spencer said. "Once, people had to go to Little Rock to see the new movies... Now they can see them in Pine Bluff."

Other new developments are coming thick and fast, she said. Bath and Body Works, a sweet-smelling store that carries elegant soaps, lotions, room fresheners, candles and other things, has just opened. A part of the same company that owns Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works carries the same high-quality personal care products.

Other new arrivals at the mall are Friedman's Jewelers, which opened in October, and two Footlocker stores, one for women's shoes and one for children.

Just in time for Christmas, when children have had quite enough of following Mom and Dad on shopping expeditions, parents can follow the kids to the soft play area that's being build in the center of the mall. With its huge fish and other climbing toys, the 600-SF play area will give parents a chance to sit while little ones work off some energy.

It will take a lot of energy to cover The Pines this year: Four new stores have opened and the mall has no room to spare. One store, Disc Jockey, has expanded from 2,500 to 8,000 SF, and now carries videotapes as well as compact discs and audio tapes.

"We are full for Christmas this year," Spencer said, noting the 700,000 SF of retail stores, movie theaters and restaurants.

"The mall is a big asset to Pine Bluff," she said. 'You don't see too many towns this size with a mall this nice."

Oak Park Village, another favorite Pine Bluff shopping area, takes advantage of its 28th Avenue location to lure customers to its stores. Susan Grygiel, owner of Pickwick Book Store, says she especially likes the visibility and convenience of Oak Park.

"Almost everyone knows the location," she said, "and we like the stores we have as neighbors."

One of her newer neighbors is Cook's Corner, a kitchen specialty store that has made local gourmet chefs and barbecue barons very happy with its stock of cookware, coffees and teas, Cuisinart appliances and fine cutlery.

Other Oak Park neighbors include Christie's children's clothing, Sweet Clover health foods, Stryker's Computer Services, Town and Country Hallmark, B&J Jewelers, Spirit Lifter, McBee's Honey Comb hair care, Moretti's Italian Bistro and USA Drug and Beauty Mart.

Downtown Pine Bluff is decking out for Christmas, with more than 3.5 million lights, according to Renee Borchert, executive director of Pine Bluff Downtown Development. The lights are illuminating the downtown area and spilling over into Regional Park, making Pine Bluff a true "City of Lights."

The Economic Development Alliance is moving into its new downtown location Dec. 8, Borchert said, adding that it will be a real plus for the city.

Jefferson Square, on Olive Street, is home to 45 merchants, including Mega Market, Blockbuster Video, Century Cellunet, Holliday's Fashions, Puff's $12 Zoo, Shippit Plus and Radio Shack.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Cities and Regions of Arkansas: Pine Bluff; Regency Square shopping complex in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Author:Ross, Agnes
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 8, 1997
Words:993
Previous Article:Bluff city banking on Bioplex boom.
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