The Gateway Mall has been sold! We’re dancing in the streets (for those of us living in the surrounding hood) with as much hope as when the place first was built just before the 2002 Winter Olympics.
There are a whole lot of changes coming from the reigning lords of open air malls, Vestar. With 50 such retail properties from Arizona to Texas, they appear to know what to do with our sad, old downtown retail hub.
First, the firm will spend millions to repaint all the underground parking areas to make them less dark and easier to use. Then they plan on spending a huge chunk of change to finally paint the faded stucco exteriors and do some major re-purposing of spaces in and around Gateway’s 632,205 square feet of retail space.
Vestar is about to announce a major tenant at the south end of the mall, and I’ll bet they’ll close the food court and move some of the fast food to other locations within the two blocks of stores.
Much of the upstairs stores will turn into offices, and more restaurants and entertainment will appear as options soon. Come winter they plan to cover the fountain with a seasonal ice skating rink. Massive art and music events are being planned for the summer.
The initial 30 million dollars Vestar will spend is a good start toward re-branding and reigniting interest in a part of town that’s fallen to empty storefronts and panhandlers. Mall management now fences off the streets in the mornings so that only employees can enter before 10:00 a.m. in order to keep out vagrants. They have also increased security five-fold around the perimeter to help give the place a safer vibe.