The Ramp acquires neglected shopping center

A bird's-eye view of the old Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center, which was purchased by The Ramp on Tuesday, Sept. 18. (Courtesy of Ramp Media)

HAMILTON - Hamilton’s old Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center, which has been deemed an eyesore and on the verge of condemnation for a number of years, has been acquired.
According to The Ramp Chief Financial Officer Samuel Bentley, The Ramp acquired the seven-acre shopping center complex from developer Tony Struyk of San Diego, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The Ramp CFO Samuel Bentley

The Ramp founder, Karen Wheaton-Towe was on the property on Thursday, Sept. 20, with more than 120 Ramp School of Ministry students looking through the building.
The Ramp currently owns an adjacent property in the same parking lot, which is currently home to a Ramp-affiliated school, Hamilton Christian Academy.
The Ramp’s main facility is less than a half -mile east of the shopping center. It is a renovated Piggly Wiggly/Big Star grocery store.


According to past press reports, the shopping center has been a point of contention with city officials for the last several years as it has fallen into “shambles” and has been declared an “eyesore.”
In July, Hamilton city attorney Scott Hunt was empowered to take the initial actions of condemnation on the property and put them on notice. No further action was deem necessary, however, as Hamilton Mayor Bob Page was told by property manager Louise Jennings of Real Estate Southeast in Prattville, that there were two national retail stores considering locating within the shopping center. Jennings even had a confirmed agreement with Avery Landscape & Associates of Hamilton for the repairs of the parking lot.

The shopping center currently is home to Liberty Finance, Security Finance and a seasonal consignment shop.
According to the Marion County Geographic Information System (GIS) website, the shopping center was constructed in 1979. The property is appraised at $701,820.

According to prior articles published by the Journal Record, Struyk and a partner at the time, Michael Hoffman, met in 2012 with 35 Hamilton leaders about the possible redevelopment of the complex as a meeting area at a cost of approximately $800,000. City officials were not impressed with the presentation.
A number of other major tenants in the 23,000-square-foot facility over the years, including TG&Y, Marvin’s, Winn-Dixie and the Dixie Cinema 3, have long since gone.
Similar condemnation action was begun by the city in April 2013, putting Struyk on notice.
The letter to Struyk said that the city “deems your property to be unsafe to the extent that it is a public nuisance.”
In 2016, Page was given a verbal commitment by property manager Jennings of Real Estate Southeast to spend money to fix craters in the parking lot. If the repairs were made, the city would do its part to keep tanker trucks from using the parking lot.

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