Building on success

Thursday, February 26, 2004

First there was Fred's discount store and Nearly Perfect Shoes. Then came the Branding Iron restaurant.

Now, a new building is going up that will house a Quizno's sandwich shop and Movie Gallery, a national video rental chain. Both of those businesses could be up and running by late May.

It wasn't too long ago, less than two years in fact, when that area of Jackson along East Jackson Boulevard was nothing more than a vacant, old, deteriorating Wal-Mart building. The parking lot was dotted with dandelions instead of vehicles. The setting was sapping the life out of an otherwise thriving stretch of commercial property.

Then Jim Maevers swooped down and fixed up the dreary area.

Maevers, the most active commercial developer in town, is not so quietly changing Jackson. The thousands of motorists who daily pass by the old Wal-Mart building, now called Boulevard Plaza, have witnessed a dramatic change in the properties. Because of the progress, Jackson residents now have more eating and shopping options.

"Jim Maevers has done more for this community, in terms of economic development, than any other private business out there," said Jackson Chamber of Commerce executive director Ken Parrett.

Very soon Maevers, and the rest of the Maevers family, including Jim's brother, Tim, are about to test some unfamiliar waters.

Perhaps Jim Maevers' biggest project yet, an 18-alley bowling facility, is under construction at the old Food Giant store between Main and Washington streets. More recently, the city issued a special-use permit for an adult day-care facility at another Maevers property at 532 W. Main St., which used to house Reflections Restaurant.

Maevers is particularly excited about the new bowling alley, which will be called Main Street Lanes.

It will be the second bowling alley in town. Maevers said the 12-lane Jackson Bowling Lanes, located on Monroe Street, targets mostly the league bowlers.

Main Street Lanes, he said, will feature more of a family atmosphere for recreational bowling, although he expects substantial league attendance.

The building, which Maevers hopes will be open to bowlers by late May, is completely stripped to the concrete floors and the insulation. Construction workers are busy moving support beams to make room for two extra bowling lanes. Without moving the supports, the building would only have room for 16 lanes.

Maevers said it is important to have 18 lanes because 50 lanes are needed to have large tournaments. West Park Lanes in Cape Girardeau has 32 lanes, and Maevers said the two bowling facilities could work together to hold large tournaments.

The facility, which will cost more than $1 million to build, will be the only one in the area to have automatic bumpers for children that pop up each time it's their turn.

The lanes will also include a snack bar, a sports bar, rooms for parties and gatherings, and a small arcade area.

"I saw an opportunity in the Jackson area for a place where families could go and have fun and spend quality time together," Maevers said. "There's no place like that now. My philosophy is to look at the community and ask, 'What does Jackson need?'"

Special care

The same kind of attitude went into a proposed adult day care. Shirley Sadler, who will manage the day care, approached Maevers about starting an adult day care and Maevers helped Sadler get the special-use permit from the city.

"It's something new," said Sadler, who has been working with elderly people for 25 years. "There's a lot of need for some people, who are living with a son and daughter-in-law who have to work. The children want their mom or dad to be in a safe place."

Sadler said the day-care facility will provide meals from the senior center and activities from Main Street Fitness. The business will be open around mid-March.

"I think this is something Jackson needed," Maevers said. "Once Shirley explained what she was doing, I thought it made perfect sense."

Family effort

The Maevers family has been a prominent name in the area for quite some time. Lester Maevers, Jim's father, had been the owner of seven grocery stores.

"He gave me the opportunity to do the things I'm doing now," Jim Maevers said.

Tim Maevers is largely in charge of the operation of the three Save-A-Lot stores the Maevers still own in Jackson, Cape Girardeau and Sikeston.

Lester Maevers got the family started in real estate development in the mid-1970s with the purchase of Schapers Shopping Center at 528 W. Main St., Jim Maevers said.

In 1991, the family decided to eliminate the video section from their IGA grocery store and make it a separate business.

At the time, the Maevers operated a gym -- which is now the Main Street Fitness Center -- and a successful video store out of the same building. Eventually, the family leased the fitness center to Southeast Missouri Hospital.

The Maevers bought the old Wal-Mart building from the Drury family in June 2002.

Since then, Jim Maevers has been active in the building of Saxony Lutheran High School in Fruitland.

"That's been one of my ways of giving back to the community," he said.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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