A few years ago, an 82-acre site in D’Iberville was an open field. Today it is one of South Mississippi’s hottest retail areas, thanks to interstate access, a nearby residential boom and the magic touch of Dr. Bharat Sangani, a Gulfport cardiologist and successful real estate developer whose master plan has created a thriving commercial corridor that’s still growing.
D’Iberville –One of South Mississippi’s busiest shopping complexes, which sprang from an open field three years ago, will begin a new phase of growth next month. Construction of a theater complex could draw thousands more customers to the already bustling area.
Located at the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Interstates 10 and 110, the center has enjoyed amazing growth. A little more than three years ago the 82-acre site was an open field and a man-made lake known to some as the “Blue Hole.” Developers now plan to widen roads and improve drainage to deal with a growing number of shoppers.
“Traffic is incredible,” said Terry Powers, owner of Music Go Round, which moved from Edgewater Village in Biloxi. “There’s really only one way in and out.”
Powers relocated after his business records showed that most of his customers came from Orange Grove, D’Iberville and Ocean Springs. Business is better than ever, he said. “We had a really good Christmas,” he said. “It helps when you’re in the right spot and everything seems to be moving this way.”
Several factors could fuel more growth at Lakeview Village. Many new homes are under construction north of I-10. And Mississippi 15, which leads north, is being widened and will shortly connect to U.S. 49.
By February, construction will begin on a 14-screen movie theater with stadium-style seating. The development will include space for eight or more restaurants, which will bring evening shoppers, said Patrick Barber, president and chief executive officer of Encore Enterprises, which owns Lakeview Village.
Encore Enterprises is a developer of commercial real estate and hotels owned by Gulfport cardiologist Bharat Sangani, Whose “Ask the Doctor” column appears in The Sun Herald on Thursdays. Along with Lakeview Village, Encore has developed more than $3.5 billion worth of real estate.
Earlier this month, Encore announced the purchase of four Marriott hotels in Indiana and Kentucky, bringing its number of hotel holdings to 17.
Nearly 50 businesses now thrive in Lakeview Village, but Barber –unlike shoppers and even business owners –isn’t stunned by the pace of expansion.
“This has been a meticulously planned development,” Barber said. “We’ve held close to the master plan.”
The 85-acre site is built around a 16.2-acre man-made lake, which was dug in the 1970s to provide dirt to build the Interstate 10 overpasses. Interestingly, most of the lake has been filled to create new commercial building sites.
Construction of the theater complex will begin on a 52-acre parcel east of Lamey Bridge Road. About 25 acres will become a park for D’Iberville residents, and a 5-acre lake will provide drainage for stormwater runoff.
To support the recent expansion, the city of D’Iberville has issued a $4.5 million bond to pay for roads and drainage. The bond will pay to unite Sangani Boulevard and Mallet Road at a single intersection on Lamey Bridge Road.
The bond will be paid off which sales taxes from the development. Infrastructure for the first part of the project was completed with a similar $3.5 million bond, secured by sale taxes.
D’Iberville borrowed heavily to help developers open the shopping center, but city officials feel the investment has paid off. Annual sale taxes in D’Iberville have risen from $1.2 million to $3.5 million, said Alan Santa Cruz, city business manager.
D’Iberville officials believe that supporting the shopping center has helped the city.
“We’ve seen some businesses grow downtown because of general development,” Santa Cruz said. “There’s a new Auto Zone and a new drug store.
“We’ve been involved since Day One.” he added. “I think it’s been good for both of us.”
Developers have received few complaints from shopping center tenants.
“They’re pulling from the north and the east much greater than they anticipated,” Barber said. “Only one business, an ice cream shop, went under. (Business traffic) continues to increase. We’ve enhanced all the surrounding property owners.”
Even new businesses thrive, said Kay Bosarge, manager of Dollar One, Which opened in the last week of July.
“Business has been really good,” said Bosarge, whose store charges $1 for each item. “Every time they come up with a new store, it helps us.”
Shoppers at Lakeview Village enjoy the convenience of staying near Biloxi to shop.
“You had to go to Gulfport. We did,” Pat Moore from Seminary, who twice a month visits her sister, Nancy Ward, in D’Iberville.
“We have lunch together and shop,” Moore said. “We could not do it in this area before.”