Some areas seeing growth - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Some areas seeing growth

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Take a look around the metro area. It's easy to pick out bustling shopping centers.

It's also pretty easy to find areas where just one or two stores remain open. Often the common thread you find in shopping areas that are going strong or are coming back is that they have a grocery store.

Of course, we've seen a lot of grocery stores close in recent years.

That has some strip malls figuring out other ways to create a new appeal.

Hoover mayor Gary Ivey will admit it's hard to ignore the vacant Belle Foods and surrounding storefronts that resemble a ghost town instead of a shopping center.

"Anytime we have a store that's empty, we want to fill it," says Ivey. "Even though Belle (Foods) has gone down, that's the only 'big store' in the city that we don't have filled right now."

Ivey points to signs of progress in Hoover, including a new Wal Mart off Lorna Road. A new Walgreens coming soon. And construction of a new Steak 'n Shake and Taco Bell on Highway 31.

"We're feeling really good about the economy in the city right now," says Ivey.

Take a trip down Valleydale Road, you'll find a bustling Inverness Highlands shopping center. And Inverness Corners, which currently has 96% occupancy.

The newest tenant -- a state of the art Winn Dixie grocery store set to open within the month.  

Ivey explains, a grocery store can be a key ingredient to the success or failure of a shopping center.

"Grocery stores drive the economy. They also drive residential. People don't want to live where they can't go to a pharmacy or a grocery store. They want both of them," Ivey says.

In Crestline Village, the Piggy Wiggly is set to close its doors this weekend.

For Nathan Marcus, a lifelong resident, "The Pig" was part of the charm of this community.

A community he says will continue to thrive because of its 'local flavor.'

Marcus says, "You don't see the national brands as much as you see the local community, the locally owned and operated and 'the pig' sure fit that mold." 

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