A storied Gloucester Point crossroads is getting a facelift and more, thanks to new owners and construction partners with a plan to return a local shopping landmark to its former glory.
Tidemill Shops, at the corner of Tidemill Road and Route 17, has been purchased by Steve Barrs of C.A. Barrs and Steve Spain of Spain Commercial, Inc. The two established commercial contractors launched Point Comeback, LLC, a business entity which broke ground on renovations to Tidemill Shops, formerly known as Tidemill Center, earlier this month.
Many façade improvements, including new roofing, will begin taking shape immediately, with initial interior construction focusing on what will become the shopping center’s anchor store – the Little England Mercantile, operating out of what was once A&S Feed & Supplies.
While Point Comeback and the renovations to Tidemill Shops mark the first time Barrs and Spain have collaborated and invested in commercial property in Gloucester, both have long conducted business on the Middle Peninsula and have extensive experience in economic development projects across the region.
Barrs and his family also purchased and renovated the historic Little England Farm at Gloucester Point, where he resides with his wife, Karen, and their three sons.
For the two families with local roots that have operated businesses in the area for generations, the Tidemill Shops project is much more than just a revitalization of an old shopping center.
“Since we moved here from the Peninsula we have realized how much Gloucester has to offer,” Barrs said. “We really were not expecting it to be such a great community. We really love it and are excited to help the Point make a comeback and bring this old classic back to life. We have all seen lately that the national retailers have come to believe in Gloucester and it looks like they are being rewarded for coming.”
Barrs further believes the best place to start with development in Gloucester is “with what we already have and redeveloping some of these older properties that our community used to rely on for years. We will show everyone that we can renovate this building and have customers parked out front in just a few months.”
“If we can show the possibilities of what can be developed using what we already have in the community, we’ve done our job,” said Spain. One of Spain’s projects was named the most significant economic development project of 2017 in York County. “Economic development does take investment, but it also takes vision. We’re hoping that with this project we can show the community and potential future developers what is possible.”
Barrs and Spain aim to utilize the work there as an economic catalyst for the community – while acknowledging the region’s culture and roots.
Karen Barrs, Barrs’ wife and owner of Little England Mercantile, had long envisioned her store – offering provisions with purpose – as a perfect fit for the location.
“I’ve always had my eye on Tidemill Shops,” Karen said. “To me, that intersection of Route 17 and Tidemill Road is the first real crossroads once you make your way into the county from the south. It’s a true gateway.”
“Scoot’s BBQ,” Karen added, “has done such a beautiful job with their corner of that intersection and this is our opportunity to carry it across the road.”
The team looks forward to bringing the once-bustling intersection back to life.
“Everyone has always talked about how that used to be such a robust shopping center,” Karen said. “There were quite a few stores that served the community in there – like A&S Feed. We even used to shop for feed there and Steve’s Dad used to bring him all the way over from Newport News for years to buy their dog supplies.”
Point Comeback aims for Tidemill Shops to have that same feel in the coming years, as a place where people come to get quality goods and services they need in their lives from home goods at Little England Mercantile, to dry cleaning, to custom made fishing rods and more.
“Our vision,” Karen said, “is to recreate a true destination that reflects the heritage and community spirit Gloucester has long been known for.”