BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The renovation of the Southern Park Mall is underway, starting Saturday with a total makeover of what used to be the Sears end.
With the sound of metal against brick, ceremonial shovels of demolition began on the building.
Lou Conforti, CEO of the Columbus based Washington Prime Group, was at the ceremony. He said the former Sears property will be replaced with a large green space.
Washington Prime provided pictures showing an area for concerts and a soccer field.
Another picture showed what’s being described as an entertainment hub, which will include restaurants, bars and an indoor golf entertainment center.
The 37,000 square-foot space will be called Debartolo Commons, named after Ed Debartolo Sr. who built the Southern Park Mall.
“This is going to be a giant green space with a band, a stage. We’re just going to do cool events,” said Conforti.
“We think this is going to be an entertainment district on its own,” said Matt Jurkowitz, vice president of real estate development at Washington Prime.
Tom Gober owns Gracylane Gift Shop and has had a store at the mall for 11 years.
“I’ve seen the plans and they look fantastic,” Gober said. “As long as they do what they say they’re going to do, I’m really excited about it. I mean. we’re extending our lease for another year.”
As far as the rest of the mall, Washington Prime is committed to making a significant investment.
“I think it’s fair to say that 30 million is not outside the realm of what we’re planning to do,” said Jurkowitz.
Among renovations will be new entrances and changes to the interior to make the mall more relevant for both shoppers and tenants.
“Make spaces that folks want to be in and go to and be a part of, that is making them more inviting to the public,” said Jurkowitz.
No one from Washington Prime would say what the new restaurants, bars or tenants would be. They only promised that there would be other announcements forthcoming in the future.