Demolition of the old Don Hawk grocery store was just the first step in the revitalization of the Bonneville Plaza in Bonne Terre.
The multi-million-dollar project, which is a joint venture between Hubbard Enterprises and Hulsey Properties, is attempting to revive the prime commercial area situated east of US 67 on K highway. The complex has been virtually deserted for the past 20 years.
When asked what prompted the plan to bring the plaza back, Scott Hubbard replied, “Just being here and seeing how run down it’s been for years and years. In my opinion, for Bonne Terre to grow, I think something had to happen with that place before any people come into town and think, oh, here’s where I want to be. I think once we get going and start making it look a little bit more presentable and nicer, I think we’ll draw a little bit more interest as well.”
Planning and early work on the project began about two years ago. “It took a couple months to clean them [old stores] out,” said Brandon Hubbard. “These buildings were so full of stuff, it would blow your mind. The previous owners left stuff in there. I think they had storage in there, too. The old grocery had all the shelving, deli cases, and registers. Coolers too! There were couches, love seats, and lamps with tags on them,” left in the old furniture store.”
Although the old grocery was torn down, approximately 70% of the other structures will be saved. With new roofs and updated facades, as well as making the various shopping areas tenant-friendly, hopes are that visual improvements will be evident by fall.
At present, there is a commitment from a national retailer to move to the plaza, which is projected to be open by the end of April. Various national and local businesses have expressed interest in the project, and the developers are hopeful that commitments will be following. There will be approximately 75,000 square feet of space available for retail business in the plaza, providing the opportunity for addressing consumer needs in north St. Francois and southern Jefferson counties.
Both Scott and Brandon Hubbard and Chris and Derrick Hulsey are graduates of North County High School, so their roots are in the area. The Hubbards have built numerous multifamily dwellings and contracted with Dollar General to build their businesses in southern Missouri and southern Illinois. They also own and operate Hub’s Pub in Bonne Terre and Potosi.
The Hulseys are best known for their redevelopment projects in downtown Park Hills, which have involved renovating and restoring old buildings and bringing them back to life with new businesses. Both contractors reflect a pride from being from the local area and the desire to improve it both visually and structurally so others can see that pride.
The theater building, which also housed various restaurants next to the theater, will be remodeled and renovated as well, although there are no tenants yet committed to the building.
“There is a two-fold advantage to this,” Derrick Hulsey said, “We’re able to save that nostalgia, and people appreciate that. It costs and lot more money to tear it down and rebuild.”
Scott Hubbard added, “We’re not tearing down the old plaza, but we’re having to tear down some of it to get our new development in there to fit and fit in there. But a lot of it is going to be repurposed and resurfaced, and hopefully, when we’re done, it’s going to look like a new shopping center.”
With US 67 becoming the main street of the county, development from Bonne Terre through Farmington is attracted to properties along that route. The Bonneville Plaza complex has been an eye sore and an albatross around the neck of the city of Bonne Terre for the last 20 years, generating little in the way of sales tax revenue for the city. A visually improved plaza will attract more business and development to that area and possibly to the Old Orchard development, which recently added a veterinary clinic.
For anyone interested in the new Bonneville Plaza, contact Hubbard Enterprises at 573-358-5125 or Hulsey Properties at 573-631-6199.
Dan Schunks is a staff writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.