Big changes are in the works for South Park Mall. Moline City Council got a first hand look at the plans Tuesday night, the committee of the whole giving an initial approval to those plans that include demolishing a quarter of the mall. That could start as soon as April 1st
"To me that's the exciting part is that its going to happen," said Moline mayor Scott Raes.
City leaders have been trying to revamp the 40 year old mall for over a decade.
"We'd like to see new tenants, destination stores that would bring Iowa people over here rather than Illinois people going over there," Raes added.
The city has agreed to turn the area around the mall into a T.I.F. district in exchange, the mall owners have to foot the entire bill for renovations.
"The developer takes the initial risk we get rewarded immediately for any new tenant that comes in through sales tax water utility and so forth and we collect our profit before Macerich (Mall Owners)would build up their increment to even utilize the tax," explained Mayor Raes.
"We think it's best that we take on the up front risk and we are willing to do that, and it is a considerable risk," explained Developer Scott McMurray. "All that we ask is if were successful become our partner after the fact."
The first step is to demolish 250 thousand square feet including Sears and the food court. In this case McMurray says bigger is not better.
"We want to drive sales per square foot. A great mall does 400 bucks a foot, an ok mall 300 bucks a foot, and a mall like South Park does less than that, and as you pass those thresholds it opens up the property to a whole other group of retailers."
The project includes new signs, access from John Deere Road and much more.
"The lighting upgraded, paint upgraded, seating areas, put in wi–fi, charging stations for cell phones and computers, there will be a new children's play area in that area and this will start to feel like a mall again," explained McMurray.
McMurray says all four anchor stores plan to stay. Adding that Dillards has even hinted at further investing in that store now that these plans are in place.
The full city council still needs to sign off on the agreement, that vote will take place at next Tuesday's meeting.
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