Anyone traveling on North Kingshighway going past Mount Auburn Road can't miss noticing that a lot of space is being prepared for development.
And enough people who read my blog and comment on this column noticed that even I was prodded into going out and taking a look. The new building for Casa Mexicana, a restaurant owned by Paducah, Ky., entrepreneur Israel Delapaz, will be ready to open within the next 45 days, said Gary Helwege, developer of the site just north of the intersection.
Several other businesses are on the verge of signing contracts to move into the development, he said. "There are 15,000 square feet being readied to put under construction," he said. "The dirt has been moved, the utilities are in and everything is contingent upon the leases."
Helwege envisions at least two more restaurants in the development, with retail shops and professional offices being part of the mix.
Along side the new Casa Mexicana restaurant, Hellwege plans to build a strip-mall shopping complex. He's also working with professional offices to sell lots for free-standing buildings.
"Everything is starting to move," Hellwege said. "It is all coming together."
While Helwege is busy setting up deals north of the Mount Auburn intersection, a little further south, Mitch Kinder's Regents Parc building is about 75 percent completed. The 40,000-square-foot building will have retail and restaurant space on the Kingshighway frontage, with two floors above dedicated to offices.
Second floor offices have ground-level access at the back of the building, Kinder said.
The building is about 30 percent leased, Kinder said, a number he hopes to improve by the time construction is complete in mid-November.
The building will feature enhanced security measures designed to lock down the building after hours, Kinder said. He's also proud of the distinctive look of the building, which he hopes will make it a landmark.
"Architecturally there is nothing like it in the area," he said. "We put a lot of thought into it."
Taken together, the two developments could be a catalyst for development in the area, Kinder said. "I think it is exciting for the north end of town," he said.
Traffic counts make investments in business along Kingshighway a good gamble, Kinder said. "There hasn't been a lot of new development on this end of town. Everything is out by the mall, and you've got to drive across town to get services."
Kinder has been building single and multifamily homes in Cape Girardeau since 1990. By moving into commercial construction, he said, he's diversifying in part because of a slowdown in home construction. "I am just looking to expand my business in all directions," Kinder said. "It is just another step to take."
* Sonic closes: The Sonic Drive-In restaurant in Scott City has closed and the owner, Mitch Bass, isn't saying much about it.
Contacted last week, Bass said he's not sure when, or if, the restaurant will reopen. "We're unsure. For right now at least, it is temporary," he said. "I really don't have any comment about it."
* Swinford changes hands: Swinford & Associates Inc., the Jackson insurance firm, has been purchased by W.E. Walker-Lakenan LLC, managing members Joe Stahly and Chad Hartle announced.
The purchase will combine the health insurance products line that was Swinford's specialty with the property and casualty lines available through Walker-Lakenan's independent insurance brokerage. Kenneth Swinford will remain with the company along with the rest of his staff, Stahly and Hartle said in a prepared release.
Jim Abernathy, who specializes in employee benefits for Walker-Lakenan, will move to the Swinford offices at 2525 E. Jackson Blvd. Jeff Bierman, formerly with Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be the managing partner of Swinford Associates, the company said.
* Collapsed roof forces move: Neumayer Equipment Co., which recently suffered a roof collapse at its location at 4800 Old Cape Road East in Jackson, will move into a 5,750-square-foot building at 905 Enterprise Drive, said Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd.
Neumayer Equipment, which sells and installs petroleum equipment and electronics, will move immediately, Kelsey said. The building contains both commercial and office space, formerly housed Minor's Harley-Davidson and was most recently used by the U.S. Postal Service as a temporary sorting facility while the Frederick Street post office was being renovated.
Neumayer is a 70-year-old company based in St. Louis. It has branch locations in Jefferson City and Kansas City.
* Snappy move: Snappy Delivery, a company dating to the 1930s, was purchased in May by Greg Ryan and now is moving to larger quarters, Kelsey reported in another announcement regarding Enterprise Drive.
The new location will be a 5,000-square-foot facility at 826 Enterprise Drive, just down from the former location at 909 Enterprise Drive.
Ryan purchased Snappy Delivery from Bob and Janet Luttrell and was operating out of the same location as their B&J Delivery, Kelsey said. The larger warehouse with loading docks will enable Ryan to expand storage capacity for customers. Snappy specializes in home and commercial moving within a 50-mile radius of Cape Girardeau.
Rudi Keller is the business editor of the Southeast Missourian. Contact him at 335-6611, extension 126