PELL CITY -- Plans are taking shape to renovate a shopping center in the historic downtown district, much like developers did with the former Food World property.

“We are talking to the same contractor who developed the Food World property,” said Rodney Barstein, executive vice president for Retail Specialists Inc. of Birmingham.

Retail Specialists owned part of the shopping center, where two businesses -- The Pink Petal and Always Money -- are located. The company recently entered into a contract, with a 120 day review period, to purchase the remainder of the shopping center, the side of the shopping center which has been vacant for years.

Barstein said that portion of the shopping center would house three new businesses, which could open by early next year.

“We would love to have someone in there by Christmas, but we don’t think that’s possible,” he said. “The plan is to remodel the center similar to the way the old Food World was remodeled and make it something that will enhance the east end of downtown Pell City.”

He said Retail Specialists’ goal is to bring three businesses to the shopping center and to Pell City.

The new portion of the shopping center that was acquired by Retail Specialists is about 21,000 square feet and is configured to house three tenants, occupying 6,000-8,000 square feet of space each, but spaces can be combined to allow for more room for individual businesses.

Hamilton Huber, the leasing agent for Retail Specialists, said while current prospects are not disclosed, the leasing company has prospects who are interested in the property.

“It has been difficult operating and managing our end of the center when the balance of the center has not been upgraded for years,” Barstein said. “By purchasing the balance of the center, the goal is to make the front look uniform and make it something that people in Pell City will be glad to have in their city.”

The shopping center is on Cogswell Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. It's visible from U.S. 231 and is in the heart of the historic downtown district of Pell City. The shopping center has ample parking.

Barstein said once Phase I of the shopping center construction is completed, Retail Specialists will focus its renovation efforts on the other portion of the shopping center.

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