My Thoughts on the Mall Deal
by Dino Corvino on February 22nd, 2016
This is going to be brief, but not so brief. I have spoken to no few then 12 people in the last 10 days about the mall deal. 6 people called me, to talk to me. I find that sort of solicitation intoxicating for my ego.
Here is my thinking about the mall. I am going to do it in bullet points, because well, I had coffee after 8 pm.
-I am not at all concerned about the money. I learned that the money is not going to the developer, but instead going into a sort of bucket/escrot/title company from which the bills for the remodel get paid. This is not as simple as it seems, but at least we are not handing a guy 4 million bucks.
-I also learned that the bad part of the money is the very little money being put in by the mall owner. This deal is essentially the mall owner getting a LOT of unsecured money, when they cannot get money anywhere else for these changes. This is tough. The public v private balance on governmental development like this is sketchy if the private party does not have a lot of skin in the game.
-I think seeing downtown businesses lobbying tonight on social media to advocate for the mall deal just smacks of self interest, but is there any other interest.
-The mall could be great. I think. I mean I only know two people who work there, so as a result I want my friends to have a building to go work in. But, the other 500 people that are rumored to work at the mall, sorry I do not know you.
-I was in the Wausau Center mall 1 time in 2015. To eat Bourbon Chicken with my friend Dan. Otherwise, I did not go there.
So for me this is the essential question…. IS AN INDOOR MALL STILL A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL IN 2016? IS THIS A VIABLE THING ANYMORE?
I do not know for sure if it is or it is not. I do not know what to think. I mean were going to move one large retailer that I have not shopped at since high school (and got fat). That is going to leave a hole in another one.
When I was in college in Milwaukee, I would go to the mall on Brown Deer Avenue. I was young, and did not have anything else to do. It had a movie theatre. Our downtown does not have a movie theatre.
When I was a kid, I used to go to the mall and just hang out at Foot Locker. It is where I first saw the brand REEBOK. I also dunked a pair of socks on the faux basketball hoop there.
Who remembers the video arcade? I do. Dragon’s Lair?
I have good memories of the mall. But, I do not know if a mall is a sustainable thing in 2016. I just do not know what the argument for it is. Along those same lines, I have no idea what happens if we do not give these people the money. Do they abandon the mall? Then what?
So, we are faced with this…
- Is a Mall a valid and sustainable business for us all in 2016? Can it survive 10 years?
- Why isn’t CBL putting some skin (money) in the game? Or are they?
- What happens if we do not do this money to renovation?