Contractor Kevin Williams from Doniphan operates an excavator as he works to tear down the former Xtreme Audio Plus building in the Southern Hills Shopping Center. Williams also recently removed the former Penmac office in Southern Hills. Soon, he will move on to tear down the old Sears building and Carl’s Repair shop. The changes are part of the first phase in updating the shopping center, according to West Plains Economic Developer David Bossemeyer.

Changes are afoot at Southern Hills Shopping Center in West Plains, and recent building demolitions have been some of the most noticeable.

According to West Plains Economic Development Director David Bossemeyer, the demolitions and changes in store locations and building renovations are part of phase one of rehabilitating and modernizing the shopping center complex.

So far, one building on Bruce Smith Parkway, the former site of Penmac, York Shoe Repair and Jim Peters’ State Farm Insurance office, has been demolished. Penmac has moved to 1205 Missouri Ave. York Shoe Repair owner Steve York retired in August, closing the shop’s doors after 30 years in business, and Peters retired and closed his office in 2019.

In the process of being demolished on Monday was the building that once housed Xtreme Audio Plus. That company has moved its operations to its installation center next to Steak ’n Shake on County Road 6460, off of Worley Drive.

Bossemeyer said the two buildings were torn down to help improve sightlines from the road and make businesses more visible to motorists on Preacher Roe Boulevard.

He said the next buildings slated to be demolished are the former Sears location and an old metal building behind JCPenney, which used to be the location of Carl’s Repair. Both businesses have closed.

The removal of the Sears building will make way for a new access road to be built and a strip mall to be built along U.S. 63 between the old Sears site and Hampton Inn, Bossemeyer explained.

Demolition isn’t the only thing happening at Southern Hills, however.

Other buildings are in the process of being renovated, including the former C&K Clothing and Quality Flooring stores, which will soon be the location for Harbor Freight Tools hardware store. Burkes Outlet clothing store will move into the space that housed Gordmans.

In October, Burkes Outlet parent company Bealls Inc. bought Stage Stores property after the latter company filed for bankruptcy in May 2020.

The new stores are expected to open in late spring or summer.

The redevelopment of the Southern Hills Shopping Center comes after the West Plains City Council agreed to approve an increase of the sales tax in the Southern Hills Community Improvement District encompassing the shopping center.

Community improvement districts, in general, are defined by a specific boundary, and their representatives petition city governments to levy sales tax increases specifically designated to fund infrastructure improvements. The improvements, if funded, can only be made on private property such as parking lots or roads within the district boundary and must be of public benefit.

The city is tasked with collecting, holding and dispersing funds for projects approved for the public’s benefit.

According to Southern Hills Developer Ryan Kiser, the renovations are projected to cost $35 million to $44 million, the CID portion expected to be about a fourth of that cost, or $10 to $11 million.

The CID portion will cover public improvements including roads, utilities and drainage, Keiser told the West Plains City Council in July. About 60% of the sales tax revenue for the city is generated by the CID. He also told the council that the infrastructure improvements would help keep Walmart within the CID as it only has a few years left on its lease.

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