Citizen Wausau

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My Thoughts on the Mall Deal

by 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…

 

  1.  Is a Mall a valid and sustainable business for us all in 2016?  Can it survive 10 years?
  2. Why isn’t CBL putting some skin (money) in the game?  Or are they?
  3. What happens if we do not do this money to renovation?

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