The Economic Development Corporation at its Feb. 6 meeting learned about four new vacancies in the Meridian Mall mall from Shawn Dunham, the mall spokesperson, who turned seemingly negative news into positive as she works proactively to find new businesses
“Gosh, Express closed, the Hallmark store closed, what happened to Old Navy? … Sara Bella (salon) closed,” Dunham said. “There’s some good coming out of all of this … in the block where Old Navy is, we’re hoping to make an announcement there soon for another entertainment use.”
Dunham did not mention specific contracts with entertainment businesses due to legal reasons (Leases have not yet been signed.)
EDC Chair Jade Sims said: “I think there is a lot of change that is happening, which always happens. … As things are leaving, they’ve done a really good job of filling those places with other business opportunities.”
Recent store closing provides new opportunities
Kristina Circelli, marketing director for CBL Properties, said the addition of entertainment in the mall has enhanced both the existing stores in the mall and the community.
The community “love(s) the fact that we have more entertainment options, not only at the mall but in the area,” Circelli said about the entertainment additions, including High Caliber Karting and Racing and Launch Trampoline Park.
Circelli also said the closings provide more “opportunity to diversify” the mall, making it “more appealing to a broader range of people.”
Working together with the community’s needs in mind
Every store closing in the mall does affect the community, but both Circelli and Dunham said by listening to the wants and needs of the citizens, they want more entertainment options in the community.
Circelli said each new opening “breathes new life into the mall and brings it a new and fresh perspective.” She also said by using the publics’ input, “it (new developments) shows the community that we’re putting in time, money and effort into the center to make it something the community … wants.”
Vacancies could potentially produce new housing options
Economic Development Director Chris Buck and Dunham said the mall vacancies could be housing options.
Buck said: “I think as we move forward as a township, housing stock and variety of housing stock” would be considered about the variety of housing projects proposed in the area. “There is a lot of opportunity to create housing that we don’t (already) have (in the township.)”
Buck also advised the EDC to be open to new options when it came non-traditional means to fulfilling the need for affordable housing. “We really need to be open-minded as more opportunities come.”
Although plans for the mall’s vacancies are not yet public, both Circelli and Dunham say that as soon as leases are signed, the information will be released to the public.
“Keep an eye-out,” Circelli said about the release of more information.
The next EDC meeting will be held on March 12 at 7:30 a.m.