The Columbia Shopping Center is under new ownership – a Magnolia couple who promises that the public will soon see dramatic changes to the 54-year-old complex.

Joshua Lowell Spittler and Kelli Dyan Spittler, through their JKS Investments LLC, bought the shopping center two weeks ago from National Investment Service.

According to Columbia County mortgage records, Bodcaw Bank is financing the $967,491 deal.

The Spittlers already own the adjacent Spittler Tire & Auto Center. It was a building they purchased from National Investment Service years ago.

Josh Spittler said he has worked for three years to purchase the entire shopping center because of improvements that needed to be made, However, he was discouraged from doing so because the land and the buildings were under separate ownership.

Recent changes in the underlying ownership made the purchase possible.

Spittler had a landscaping company at work on the property last week, clearing brush away from the rear of the shopping center and removing dirt and vegetation from the sidewalk and curb along East Main.

The parking lot will be resurfaced this week. A portion of the parking lot is in good condition and will receive a seal coat, but the east end of the lot will get two inches of new asphalt.

“We going to get the old lights working. All the wires that cut across – we are going to eliminate that and get it rerouted,” Spittler said.

The existing Columbia Shopping Center sign will be kept, but refurbished with new paint and lighting.

Awnings will be repaired. New fascia will be installed on the east building that has several small shops.

Spittler recently remodeled the tire and auto repair shop. A storage area was replaced with two new service bays. The roof and ceiling were both replaced, and new bay doors installed.

“I think it’s something that’s going to help out a lot of people around here, cleaning this place up,” Spittler said.

“I think it’s going to help all the businesses – not just ours, but all of theirs. Just the look and making the parking lot easier to navigate,” Dyan Spittler said.

Only two retail spaces are unoccupied. One of the spaces will be remodeled soon with new walls, ceiling, flooring and restroom.

The purchase “is a big jump to take but I think it will be worth it in the long run,” Josh Spittler said.

Information posted on the Columbia County, Arkansas History and Genealogies page on Facebook indicates that the shopping center was built in three phases.

Plans for the shopping center were announced in 1964 by developers D.R. White and J.A. West Jr. of El Dorado, and J.W. Clark of Minden. The shopping center was built on land owned by the Woodward, Joslin and White families.

The first phase – the large 35,292 square foot building -- opened in September 1965. It included West Department Store, an El Dorado-based clothing store chain; A&P, a national supermarket chain; Sterling Store, a 5-10-25 cent store; and a Montgomery Ward catalog office.

Family Dollar, Save-a-Lot and Auto Zone now occupy the main building.

The 9,940-square-foot second section opened in 1967. Firestone – the current Spittler’s location – was part of the second section along with Alice’s Beauty Salon, Esquire Barber Shop, the Washateria and Dairy Queen.

Dairy Queen is the only store original to the shopping center that remains in operation. The second building also includes as current occupants The Vapor Shop, Emerald Coast Fast Tax and Awesome Blossom Nutrition.

The final section is the 1,876 square foot building that was originally opened in March 1986 as the Beef & Biscuit restaurant. It is now occupied by Mr. James’ Delicious Foods.

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