Despite Kmart closing, local nearby businesses look to the future

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kmart recently announced they were closing more than 50 of their stores across the country, including the Memphis location on Austin Peay.

"I shop here at least twice a week," Jimmy Jones.

Jones lives a mile from the soon to be closed Kmart. He's not just disappointed he'll no longer have convenient shopping.

"It's gonna be another huge empty building," said Jones.

The other massive, empty building he's referring to is less than a mile away off busy Austin Peay, the sprawling Raleigh Springs Mall. The weed ridden parking lot has sat nearly empty for years.

However, the blight isn't stopping several small business owners from investing. Marius Blake opened an eyebrow threading shop across the street from the dilapidated mall three months ago because he sees promise in the future.

"There's a lot of blight going so we gotta keep the ball rolling forward. Gotta fix it up, make this a shopping area and they'll stop in and shop with us," said Blake.

A few door doors down, Wednesday was opening day for Pettigrew's Fish and Wings.

"All I gotta do now is just endure and wait," said owner Curtis Pettigrew.

They're waiting for an expansive plan to turn the mall into a community gathering area, a police precinct, library, skatepark and green space. The project has been in the works for awhile. The Sears building was demolished in May but since then we haven't seen much because the city was locked in a lawsuit over the building.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Strickland's office said it's still in the process of purchasing the remainder of the property.

As for the future of Kmart, we reached out to the city's Office of Planning and Development to see if there're any plans for the building, we're waiting to hear back.

The Raleigh Community Development Corporation said they're meeting this week and will discuss this building to see what they want it turned into as well.

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