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ShoppingTown Mall pitch call center idea

ShoppingTown Mall pitch call center idea

Lydia Johnson can see ShoppingTown Mall from the front parking lot of her family's camera shop in Dewitt. 


In recent years she has watched her once vibrant neighbor lose several stores.


"The emotions that go through any business owner's mind looking at our community is that there is less and less prosperity and the hope for change and a growth is exciting," Johnson says.


That hope comes from the latest idea pitched by the mall's owner, Moonbeam Capital Investments.


"The President and CEO of Moonbeam called me up and asked - would the town entertain a call center," recalls DeWitt Town Supervisor Ed Michalenko. "I said certainly."


The idea is far from official. If a specific company has expressed interest in partnering with the mall, Michalenko would not reveal details. A formal plan has not been submitted to the town.


"It's forthcoming, is what we're hearing," Michalenko added. "They've told us it was going to take time. They did not give a time commitment or a date at which we can expect a plan or submittal. But, they have told us it is something in the works. They are working on it."


A proposal to turn the mall into a mix of businesses, apartments, and retail space was introduced more than a year ago. 


But the facility is getting more attention for the number of stores that have moved out -- some landing just down the road in a nearby plaza.


Plazas are attractive to retail companies because they only have to pay for energy in one space. At the mall, there are large sections of covered shared space, like hallways, that drive up the overall cost. 


Michalenko believes state grants could help ShoppingTown's owner install more energy efficient systems for lighting, heating and air conditioning throughout the mall, making the option more affordable for tenants.


"We are willing to entertain a PILOT or an agreement that would give them tax benefits," Michalenko says. "In order to get to that point, we have to see a rebound. You have to see some kind of plan in place."


Nearby, Destiny USA has already received big tax breaks, enjoying what Michalenko says is an unfair advantage over competitors. He compares it to supporting one barber shop with state money for modern upgrades, while other barbers in town are left struggling to keep up.


Johnson admits she has a tough time finding workers who seem to be drawn to jobs where they see new opportunities and expansions. Currently, they aren't seeing that growth across the street at ShoppingTown Mall.


"Additional businesses and additional traffic and even competition is healthy for any community," she adds.


While Moonbeam Capital Investments has not committed to a timeline for promises to transform the mall, Michalenko says they express confidence.


"They are convinced that they are not at a crisis or a trouble point, that they can turn the mall around and make it work," he says.


ShoppingTown Mall pitch call center idea. (2016, July 20). Retrieved January 6, 2017, from