PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Handed a closer alternative, shoppers explored Prattville's newest retailers.
"I actually think it's great that Prattville's expanding," said one shopper.
Customers poured into Hobby Lobby and Academy Sports and Outdoors--the anchors of the area known as The Exchange at Homeplace.
"It's been phenomenal. Everybody has really been upbeat, positive, and they love shopping here, so it's been great," explained Russ McAdams, Academy's operations manager.
The newborn complex is taking its first steps toward success, but down the street, business growth has reduced to a crawl.
Mayor jim byard says sales from anchor stores at High Point Town Center are working to pay off a $46 million debt.
"The situation here is this shopping center was caught up in the global downturn," Byard said.
"The revenue that Belk and that [J.C.] Penney's put into the city's coffers are paying the debt on this center."
The mayor tells WSFA 12 News the city will work to offer sales tax incentives to those businesses looking for a piece of prime real estate.
Gathering interest, however, is tough in a poor economy.
"Had [the shopping center] not been this far along, this would not be here. We would not have Belk. We would not have Penney's. We would not have our new Japanese steakhouse," Byard said.
Granted, some shops are opening up high atop Prattville's retail area, but city leaders say it could take a while for retailers to climb out of an economic slump and start filling storefronts.
"Companies are being extremely choosy where they locate their resources, where they put their capital expenditures," Byard explained.
Still, shoppers are hoping they'll see more in the future.
"I think before long it'll fill up. Because it's growing. Prattville's growing," said Lucretia Edwards of Millbrook.
Another big box store is slated to call the Exchange at Homeplace home.
Byard says an announcement is expected in the coming weeks.