By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The new owners of one of the Birmingham metro’s largest retail developments have high hopes for the future of the center. The investment group hopes to revitalize The Pinnacle Tutwiler Farm by bringing in tenants and hosting community event space.
Jason Jones, the manager of Pinnacle Retail, LLC., said he and his partners, Jessie Mann and Rohit Mehrotra recognize the property as a gem in the growing city of Trussville.
When the property went up for auction, Jones said he and his partners saw a great opportunity to revive the center. In April of 2021, Pinnacle Retail closed on the purchase of the property for $11.577 million.
“It was a beautiful center,” said Jones. “And despite the vacancies, we could tell that it was a center that was very well maintained and the outside looked great. Then, we spent a lot of time researching the city and learning about what were the demographics, what’s going on in the city, and we were totally impressed by everything that was going on.”
Jones said one of the things the city has done to help people get into the area of the shopping center, is the Valley Road Extension. He said his company will continue to work with the city to make the area exactly what the people of Trussville and surrounding areas want.
“There’s a real change we can make here and make this a real benefit to the community moving forward,” Jones said.
Things that are already in the works to enhance The Pinnacle include repaving the parking lot, upgrading all lights to LED, focusing on landscaping, and increasing security and cameras.
The plan is to make the shopping center a community center. Jones said he hopes to attract medical providers and other businesses for four outparcels that the company is now under contract to purchase.
“We want to turn one of those outparcels into a community event space where we can host you know, Movies on the Lawn, and Yoga, and different things to make it a place where people can come and use it and have a place to go,” Jones continued.
Jones said he hopes the community is able to embrace the center and accept the changes that he believes will positively impact the lives of locals.
“I think the identity of the center is going to be tweaked a bit and I think it’s pretty exciting what we’re working on,” Jones said.
The investment group has dedicated its time by placing boots on the ground and talking to locals and finding out what types of restaurants and shops are needed and wanted in town.
“We would love to see those strong brands come in, a steakhouse, a seafood place, things that the city doesn’t have that are top-notch and great quality,” Jones said. “We’d like to have some more entertainment options as well.”
Jones said the owners will be able to be flexible with tenants on a local basis as well.
“We want to find the local groups that we can partner with and bring in the local retailers and the local shops and restaurants and make this a center where we can have a great collaboration,” Jones said. “We have the flexibility to try to find terms that work for everybody. And I think the hardest part for everybody is the first two years, especially if it’s a new business. You know, you never know if you’re going to be successful and so we have the ability to structure the first year or two, where there is a greatly reduced rent and that slowly ramps up as they are able to build up their businesses. We view this as a partnership. This is a three-way partnership between the landlord, the tenants and the community. We need all three of those to be successful in order for this to be successful.”
Just this week, the 2020 Census data showed that the city of Trussville has grown 31% in 10 years. Jones said he believes that kind of news could help bring in more businesses.
“We were really excited to see the growth that has gone on in Trussville,” said Jones. “In between the growth in Trussville and the infrastructure and everything else the city has been doing, we’re trying to look at it and identify those tenants who are going to have the ability to grow with the city in the long-term.”
Jones also said he hopes to be able to provide an empty space to the Trussville Police Department and Trussville Fire & Rescue, for first responders to have a place to relax, have lunch, and take breaks.
“The more that we can have them here and making sure everything is safe and in working order, that would be fantastic for everybody,” Jones explained.
The company is also looking into bringing in a security company, although it has not been determined that will be necessary at this time.
The Belk building is not under the ownership of Pinnacle Retail, LLC., although Jones said he hopes to form a mutual working relationship with the owners of that property in order to provide the people of Trussville with an even more successful shopping and community center.
“We’ve already kind of started some conversations with them and those are hopefully going to continue and be ongoing,” Jones said. “We want to look at helping them and them helping us. How do we make this be the place that people want to come to? And it seems like perhaps there’s been some divergence of what the community wants to see there and what is there and hopefully, we can help them to do that. And we all are operating under agreements together and we need to make sure that everyone is staying within those bounds and that we can do everything we can to make it a place where people want to come.”
Work on the parking lot at The Pinnacle is expected to begin in the next couple of months.