Mall becomes DeWitt social hub

"We've seen a mix of college-aged kids and mature adults in the audience of our one act plays," she said. "People like to go for dinner and a show once in a while. Here, people can park for free, have an inexpensive dinner and buy tickets for only $10."

An evening of shows consists of two or three one-act plays at 25-45 minutes each, which run once every six weeks.

"It's much cheaper than going downtown, and it's all right here," Costa said.

Shoppers interviewed in the mall mentioned the need for music to liven up the echoing hallways, while others were concerned about variety among the businesses.

While her two children enjoy the CNY Gymnastics Center, Brandy Harvey of Syracuse frequents Shoppingtown because of its convenient location and accessibility to the larger department stores, such as Macy's, Sears and JC Penny.

"The mall could probably use a dance studio or two though," she said.

Other shoppers were not thrilled by the idea of the mall becoming a social gathering place.

"This mall is nice," said Georgia resident Gardner Miles, who is vacationing in Kirkville this summer. "But like every mall, kids come in and raise Cain. As long as they are supervised and there are things for them to do, then I guess that's fine."

Shoppingtown's transformation began in March 2007 when its owner Macerich unveiled the plan to create an open-air plaza in place of the current Sears wing. The plaza would add restaurants, specialty stores and outdoor seating, creating a place for mall-goers to gather and relax during their shopping trip. With the country's current economic state, however, plans have reached a temporary stand still.

"The mall has always been retail driven, that's what guides all decisions," said Graham. "With redevelopment on hold, we needed to find unique ways to fill all those empty stores."

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