The former Walmart store in Newport, is undergoing a transformation from an abandoned space into five new retail stores, according to Newport Economic Development Commission Executive Director Jon Chadwell.

Commercial real estate developer SimonCRE is purchasing the 85,000 square foot building and surrounding property, turning it into a dynamic shopping center. 

The space will be home to new retail outlets for the Newport community including Tractor Supply, Dollar Tree, Goodwill and other retail stores along with a newly constructed outparcel which will be a national fast food restaurant. Construction will begin immediately and is slated for completion by the end of the year.

Located on the main thoroughfare in central Newport, SimonCRE has significant improvements planned for the existing structure including subdividing the building into separate retail stores, repairs and maintenance to the facility as well as landscape and parking lot updates. After a multi-million dollar investment, the new retail spaces will vary in size from approximately 2,500 square feet to more than 24,000 square feet.

"Newport is established as the Jackson County seat and the home of a parent campus of Arkansas State University Newport. Newport is a thriving community," says Simon on the new addition to the area. "Instead of leaving a building empty or tearing it down, we're proud to be able to repurpose the existing structure and renovate it. We are confident that the new shopping center will give residents some valuable retail options."

"Nationally big box stores average being empty from 5 to 7 years before being repurposed," says Chadwell.  "We are very pleased that this store is finding a new use in less that a year after Wal-Mart moved to their new supercenter"