New owner wants fresh start for Bessemer shopping center

By Emily Luxen

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) -  A new owner vows to bring a new look and a fresh start to a struggling Bessemer shopping center.  

Local businessman Anthony Underwood purchased the Watermark Place Outlet Center in October, and said he is ready to start making improvements.

Underwood said he is considering a lot of different options including new retailers, offices, restaurants, and even a museum and information center for people exiting the interstate. He added that he wants to make it more family friendly so it will attract  Alabama Adventure's patrons.

"I think this is a great retail space in the Birmingham area," said Underwood, "I thought it was important to develop it, and bring more tax base to the city."

However, there will be challenges ahead. Only 11 stores remain at the 185,000 square-foot facility.

Underwood said he wants to start by keeping the current stores, and taking advantage of the empty land on either side of the center.

"We are getting feedback from the community and the business community, and they say they are looking for something unique.  We are the place for that," said Underwood, "We are poised to make things happen here."

Shoppers agreed they would like to see the empty storefronts filled with new options.  

"I would like to see some more stores, that would be nice," said Angeliece Witherspoon, "I would come out here more often.  It is only my second time out here."

The effort to recruit new businesses to the center begins at an open house on Mar. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.  Underwood hopes this will allow potential new businesses owners to tour the facility and see the options it offers.

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