Tracetown should benefit from new intersection

Published 1:12 am Sunday, January 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — With the completion of the continuous flow intersection at Seargent S. Prentiss and John R. Junkin drives, the Tracetown shopping area has a grand new entrance, but a number of vacant storefronts remain.

The new intersection allows traffic to flow directly into the parking area of the facility, making it easier for potential shoppers to find their way to a store. And local leaders and business owners said there isn’t a better time to start luring businesses to the empty spaces.

“I think that is an impressive little entrance there,” Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton said. “It is much better than what we had going into that area before. It is much easier to get in and get out.”

But since the property is privately owned by an out-of-town owner, Middleton said the city has very little control over what goes on with the property unless it falls into disrepair or becomes a safety hazard.

He said he would like to see the property owners consider possible renovations to the parking area and shopping center faade as a way of attracting tenants to shopping center.

“I think this is an ideal time for Tracetown to step up and make some changes,” Middleton said. “But it’s not mine, it’s not the city’s, and we don’t have any legal authority to demand them to do what we want.”

Mike Lazarus, Adams County supervisor and owner of Lazarus Arts, said his business, which is located near Burger King in the Tracetown parking lot, has seen an increase in traffic since the completion of the continuous flow intersection.

But Lazarus said, traffic to the area was never a problem.

“I’d say traffic is up 20 to 25 percent since the intersection opened,” Lazarus said. “But it was always busy here because you’ve got Burger King and McDonalds. Those places always bring cars into the parking lot.”

Lazarus moved his business to the location in the fall of 2008 because of the traffic flow to the area.

“In real estate, it is all about location, location, location,” Lazarus said. “Anytime there are cars driving by, it is good for your business. The more times they see you, the more you stay on their brain.”

“I wish I had the money to buy the rest of the shopping center and really develop it like it should be.”

Lazarus said he believes it is wise to focus on redeveloping current shopping areas, before building new shopping centers in other parts of town.

He said by focusing on repopulating the Tracetown shopping area, all of the surrounding businesses would benefit.

“To me it makes sense to work on developing this area because you know it can work,” Lazarus said. “This is a proven location, a central location.

“It has a real future if people can just see the potential.”

Middleton agreed that Tracetown could be returned to its splendor, if the proper work was done. He said Tracetown was once a lively area for shopping with clothing, shoe and jewelry stores.

“It would be nice to have it full instead of a half or third full like it is now,” Middleton said. “It used to be a real nice shopping center when I was growing up.

“You could get that back again, if it could be dressed up.”