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Bluff Park resident Robin Schultz stands in front of a pole in need of paint and refurbishing in front of El Gringo Mexican restaurant in Shades Mountain Plaza.
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Shades Mountain Plaza
Potholes in parking lot of Shades Mountain Plaza in Bluff Park.
For months, concerned residents of Bluff Park have been waging a campaign to get the owner of the portion of Shades Mountain Plaza containing Piggly-Wiggly to spruce up the outward appearance.
On the website BluffParkal.org, resident Robin Schultz has been posting pictures of peeling paint and potholes in the parking lot. On Jan. 14, 2015, he posted an open letter to Chris Gauldin, who owns the portion of Shades Mountain Plaza that includes Piggly-Wiggly, Robert’s Discount Pharmacy, Bluff Park Post Office and El Gringo Mexican restaurant.
Among the issues he pointed out in the letter to Gauldin: Large pot holes, peeling paint on buildings and poles, graffiti and overgrown lots.
The owner did some cosmetic work, but problems continued. In early July, BluffParkal.org beefed up its campaign, and Schultz created a website, SMplaza.info, that included more photos of the poor condition of the lot. Schultz also took his complaints before the Hoover City Council on July 6, asking city leaders to look into the matter and urging the city to adopt a new ordinance forcing commercial property owners to clean up their properties just like residential homeowners are forced to clean up overgrown lots.
Hoover City Council President Pro Tem Brian Skelton said, “We will look into it,” when asked about Schultz’ complaints.
Now, the six-month campaign by Bluff Park residents appears to be sparking the shopping center owner into action.
As of Monday morning, July 20, workers had begun priming the roof and some of the outside poles of the center in preparation of repainting near tenants Piggly-Wiggly, Robert’s Discount Pharmacy, the Bluff Park Post Office and El Gringo Mexican restaurant. A circle was painted around some of the huge potholes in the parking lot as well, an indication that they are getting prepped to be filled.
Schultz said he is glad to see the owner, Chris Gauldin of Gauldin Corp., responding. A couple days earlier, he gave a Hoover Sun reporter a tour of Shades Mountain Plaza, pointing out potholes in the parking lot, peeling paint on poles in front of businesses and graffiti marring the back of the center.
Schultz said some residents have opted to shop elsewhere due to the bad condition of Shades Mountain Plaza. He questioned why the Piggly-Wiggly portion of the center isn’t a nicely painted as the opposite part of Shades Mountain Plaza that includes a wings restaurant and other businesses.
“I’ve lived in Bluff Park over 20 years and we are a proud community,” Schultz said. “We’d prefer our shopping center to not be unsightly when we are trying to promote new businesses to come in.”
Gauldin of Gauldin Corp., in a short interview, declined to comment when asked about Bluff Park residents/ complaints other than to say, “It should be obvious what I am doing.”
Hoover City Councilman John Lyda, who also has gotten said complaints from Bluff Park residents, said he is hopeful that commercial property owners will “do the right thing” in terms of upkeep of their properties and not force the city to get involved. Lyda said he is glad to see progress beginning at the Shades Mountain Plaza.
“It's been my hope that the landowner would make the right decision to be a good corporate citizen of Bluff Park, taking pride in the area to match that which Bluff Park residents have for their community,” Lyda said. "While the work to bring the center up to standards of the surrounding community will take time, what we are seeing today gives us all great hope that positive change is beginning.”
Schultz said Bluff Park residents have always been strong supporters of local businesses. The community was very vocal a year ago when Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market was eying a vacant lot near Shades Mountain Plaza, waging a campaign that kept the big retailing giant out.
“Bluff Park residents support local business owners and want to see them thrive,” Schultz said. “Allowing Shades Mountain Plaza to look run down hurts the entire community and damages our efforts to attract new businesses here.”
Schultz said Bluffparkal.org will continue to follow developments at Shades Mountain Plaza and post updates to ensure Gauldin does clean up the shopping center. You can follow updates at bluffparkal.org or at SMPlaza.info.