Good or bad, some news soon on future of University Mall
Carlton Proctor • June 15, 2008
Over the past few weeks I've heard continuously from numerous readers, tenants and store managers about University Mall's neglect, and the impact it's having on the businesses there.
It seems their outspoken concern and indignation may finally be having an effect on Simon Property Group, which owns and manages the property.
Last week, University Mall merchants were visited by Rebecca Scoggins, a Simon vice president, who told merchants they would receive a memo within the next 30 days detailing the company's plans for the mall.
And on Friday, I received a call from Les Morris, Simon's manager for corporate public relations, who said the company's near-term plans would be discussed Monday during a conference call with Simon Properties Group's Scott Richardson.
Richardson was the Simon executive who made the original announcement here in March 2007 that Simon would spend millions on a major renovation that was to start late last year.
To date those plans have been on hold, and there is no start date in sight.
Meanwhile, more current and former mall merchants are speaking out about their experiences with Simon Property Group.
Letter from ex-tenant
A letter sent to me last week by former mall tenant Sharon Kubik was especially poignant and telling.
Here are some excerpts:
"I have been reading your articles and I feel the pain of this mall day in and day out. I am currently in the process of moving my shop(s) out of University Mall to Tradewinds Shopping Center.
"The problem is not my product, everyone loves cookies and ice cream. The problem is University Mall.
"Every day, we hear from customers comments like, 'When is this mall going to be done?' 'Why is taking so long?' 'We didn't know this mall was still open.'
"And my favorite one: 'I thought that it was all construction crews parked out front.'
"Well, you have heard all of those comments I am sure. I am sending you this letter so that perhaps something else will be done with this mall. I am leaving and I am sure that my business will be much more successful in the new place.
"The only problem is starting over. This was not my idea to have to close my shops and move them. Financially and emotionally as an owner it has and is taking a toll on me, but I feel like it is my only recourse.
"The uncertainty of this mall remains to be seen. I just felt that I needed to put my 2 cents in as an owner of the real life at University Mall."
To all those who care about the mall's future, and the viability of the remaining stores there, including the independently owned JC Penney, Sears and Belk, stay tuned; news is on the way.
Will it be good? Or bad?
We'll soon see.