Mall construction delayed

Construction at the Shoppingtown Mall complex, which had been running on schedule, has been postponed due to retailers' hesitance.

"I guess you could call it (a postponement), but what's happened is the retailers are reassessing their plans for openings and expansions," said Nannette Carbone, marketing manager. There are a variety of problems, from mergers to closures in recent weeks that could have led to their hesitance.

For Shoppingtown's part, Carbone said the mall now has to wait for the retailers to determine what steps they want to take.

"We have always been a retail driven project," she added. For that reason, she said it would be difficult for her to determine a timeline for the construction to begin again. "I'm hoping it's not very long," she said.

Macerich, a shopping center owner and operator, announced in 2007 that it would be converting the Shoppingtown complex into an indoor and outdoor center, with the space between Dicks and Sears to be demolished to make room for an "outdoor lifestyle center," as previously reported in the Eagle Newspapers. That demolition was to take place in the fall.

Still, Carbone said she remains hopeful about the project.

"We're poised for re-development, we had laid this plan out a couple of years ago," Carbone said. Several steps have already been taken toward the project. Now the mall simply has to wait for the retailers. "We're on the right course of action," she said.

When asked whether the country's current economic downturn might put a permanent hiatus on the project, Carbone was skeptical.

"I think we've been through ebb and flow before, both on the local and now on the national level," Carbone said, regarding the price of oil. Still, she doubted that the downturn would last long enough to defer the project.

"I think it often seems cyclical," she said, and expects that the cycle will return to normal sooner rather than later.

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