I spent most of my life in Southwick Village, which nearly backs into this shopping center. The only thing between my former addition and this center was an apartment complex created and developed by the father of my childhood schoolmate, Ron Bunt. After it closed back in 1998, we were forced to drive an extra mile and a half to Mark's City Market on South Anthony or a 4-5 mile trek to New Haven when we needed groceries. In our current home, we are no further than 10 minutes from at least six grocers.
I recall this center as being anchored by a Marsh store when we first moved to the area in 1970. It went through several reincarnations including Maloley's and Super Value. I'd spent alot of time in other businesses in the plaza and others nearby as well. There was a Dan Purvis Rexall drugstore next door to the grocery store that also evolved through several name and ownership changes; yet the same smiling faces were there to greet me through the years. There was the coin-laundry with the friendly manager who was always trying to hook me up with her daughter, the Coney Station that never matched Coney Island but was still worth the occasional perusal, and Jimmie's Pizza Inn nearby.
I ran a Journal-Gazette route in the area around and including Casselwood when I was a teenager; my Dad later started a motor-route nearby and we teamed up to serve the entire area. The local Texaco station on Hessen Cassel Road was purchased by Jon Lassus in the mid-eighties, and I worked my way up into mgnt there before moving on to higher pursuits. I never lost my sense of pride in MY part of town. I'm tickled to death to see Casselwood follow in the steps of Menards and Wal-Mart at the former Southtown Mall site.
If there was a makeover show for shopping centers, Casselwood Shopping Center at the corner of Hessen Cassel and Paulding Road would make a good candidate.
“Right now it's a big dump,” admitted the center's owner, local real estate developer Barry Sturges.
But that could soon change. At its meeting Wednesday morning, the Board of Public Works approved allowing $65,000 in Community Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) to go to the center. Forty-thousand from the three at-large members of City Council will pay for lighting in the parking lot; another $25,000 from Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th District, will go toward overall improvements.
Each council district receives $450,000 a year in CEDIT money for improvement projects, and the three at-large council members share another $450,000, which is also available for improvement projects.
Julie Sanchez, a redevelopment specialist with the city, said the center could be the new home of a discount grocery and a dollar store, but Sturges said nothing has been confirmed yet. He hopes to have details finalized within the next 10 days.
Sanchez said construction at Casselwood is scheduled to begin before the end of the year, in time for a February 2008 opening. She said a total overhaul of the center will total almost $2.5 million.
Zoning restrictions would prohibit new tenants from selling tobacco or liquor, as well as guns unless a sporting goods store moves in. No pawn shops, massage parlors or check-cashing establishments would be allowed, either.
The center's former anchor store, Tom's SuperValu, closed in 1998 after its fifth armed robbery in two years.