Bartholomews to bring new ‘opportunities’ to Opp

Published 9:04 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

A short drive or walk will soon mean quality entertainment, food and retail for Opp residents as the city sits poised to receive its own shopping center, amphitheater and recreational square.

John Bartholomew of Bartholomew Properties LLC said work has already begun to prepare for the development of West Side Square.

“I think people will be really excited once the buildings begin coming down,” he said. “We are taking some of the buildings down now. People have seen some of the roofing come off the old hardware store and the tin sheds in the back are coming down. People have been asking questions and wondering if it is really going to happen. Yes, it is going to happen.

“This will be something that Opp needs,” he said. “It will really be something for the people to enjoy in the downtown area. It will be something for people to do on Friday and Saturday nights and stroll around during the weekdays.

“I think the people realized they needed something,” he added. “We took the opportunity and started buying what we needed to buy. We were able to buy all of the buildings we needed. We just feel as though it will be an asset to the city and it will help with growth.”

Covington Manor, the old hardware store and other adjoining structures should be taken down by the end of December or first of January and development will begin soon thereafter.

West Side Square will feature an amphitheater where concerts will take place Friday and Saturday nights. The site will offer 16 1,250-square-foot divisions, now available for pre-leasing, for the inclusion of eateries and retail establishments.

“We are looking to bring two brand new restaurants,” he said. “We want to make sure one of those has a fulltime chef. We want it to be a really nice, upscale restaurant. We are looking for a bakery. We have real estate brokers in Ft. Walton and Dothan looking to bring in people. This is probably going to be the only small town development of its type from Destin to Montgomery.”

The square will also feature a well-lit playground, several sitting areas and wireless Internet capability.

Bartholomew said plans are to break ground on West Side Square in less than a year.

Cotton mill site to be new industrial park

Plans are well under way to bring new commerce to Opp with the creation of West Side Square and, according to John Bartholomew, a companion project is also under way to bring a small industrial park to the city.

John Bartholomew and his wife, Maggie, of Bartholomew Properties LLC, saw Opp’s great potential for growth soon after moving to the city in 2004. The couple knew small companies would benefit from an industrial park geared toward their needs, with small buildings and room for expansion, but also knew those businesses would be further enticed by the presence of a facility like West Side Square.

“You really need something like this square downtown to support the industrial park,” Bartholomew said. “When larger companies come into the area and they want some place nice to come downtown to eat and socialize.”

Bartholomew said the small industrial park, which will be located on the property currently occupied by the old cotton mill in Opp, will have approximately six spaces available for businesses to lease and each space will be approximately 7,000 square feet in size.

“You have a lot of companies that maybe have 20-30 employees and really only need 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of space,” he said. “They can come here and get a 7,000 square foot building and they can always add on to it if needed.”

Bartholomew expects the combination of the industrial park and the West Side Square will produce several employment opportunities for Opp residents.

“You can have a small company move in and look to employee about 20 people,” he said. “We will have approximately six spaces available that could create approximately 120 new jobs for the city. If a larger company opts to utilize the 80,000 square feet building, then it could mean a potential of 200 to 250 jobs when the property is fully occupied.”

Bartholomew said West Side Square will likely be completed before the industrial park, but visible work will be seen on both projects by January 2009.