Something new is going on at Macon Mall.
Construction projects are under way in some spots for new retailers while others will be coming along in a few months.
Subway will open in the food court. Shoe Dept. is expanding into a Shoe Dept. Encore and nearly doubling its retail space where it will carry more brands and upper end shoes. Also, Office Depot will be moving from the intersection of Pio Nono Avenue and Eisenhower Parkway to the former Linens n Things building on an out parcel at the mall.
John Gibson, co-owner of Hull Storey Gibson Cos. LLC which owns the mall, said the company is making steady progress of upgrading the mall and bringing in new tenants.
A mall is like a aircraft carrier, and you dont turn it on a dime, Gibson said. It takes a period of time to go into decline and then it takes a period of time for it to return. So we are on that slow, steady grind of re-earning the confidence and support of the community. We have made the investment of our time and effort, and I hope weve demonstrated a long-term commitment to the community.
Mall retailer Shoe Dept., will become a Shoe Dept. Encore store, which is owned by the same North Carolina company, Shoe Show Inc. The store will move from about 7,400 square feet it currently occupies at the mall to about 12,000 square feet and will go into a vacant space beside Spencers and space currently occupied by Clockwork Skateshop. The Encore store will carry higher-end shoes and more brands, Gibson said. The store, which is expected to open in late summer, will likely add 10 or more workers, he said.
Clockwork Skateshop is moving from about 2,600 square feet to about 3,900 square feet of space on the second level outside the J.C. Penney store.
The existing Shoe Dept. space will be demolished and escalators will replace the steps in front of J.C. Penney.
Office Depot will be relocating from its current location on Pio Nono Avenue to about 18,000 square feet in the former Linens n Things building, Gibson said. The Macon police department has a sub-station in the rear of that building, so with Office Depot moving in it will be 100 percent occupied. The retailer is expected to open in the new location late this year or early next year, he said.
The new Subway restaurant is going in the food court and will be in the first bay on the right as people enter the mall from Eisenhower Parkway. It will take about 800 square feet for its kitchen and counter. Gibson said he expects it will open in July.
We are in conversation with a number of other food court tenants that we expect to bring to the property over the next 12 to 18 months, he said. What our food court tenants have discovered is that their sales have stabilized and are improving.
The latest construction at the mall follows the Smokn Pig BBQ restaurant, which opened this spring. It is holding a grand opening celebration Wednesday.
The barbecue restaurant is exceeding their plan and expectations, Gibson said. Macys has made a big turn as well ... and they have been bringing back lines into Macys.
Gibson acknowledged the mall has to persuade customers to come back to the center.
Macon only has one enclosed mall, he said. What the mall really suffered from was the neglect of an absentee, non-committed owner over a very, very extended period of time of five years. ... Its really very unfortunate that that took place. But we are a committed owner-operator -- and weve got a lot of work left -- but we are working hard every day to earn the patronage and the confidence of the people of Macon.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.