The Auburn Mall is going to have a different look in the coming months.
Hull Property Group, which owns the Auburn Mall, has made a deal with the City of Auburn to transform the building formerly occupied by J. C. Penney. This includes building a new mall entrance, additional exterior-facing retail storefronts and outparcel opportunities.
Work has already begun to prepare for the demolition of the 35,000 square feet of anchor space facing East University Drive. Once demolition is complete, a new 16,500-square-foot shopping space will be created to hold multiple tenants, according to a release from Hull Property Group.
As large department stores continue to close, smaller stores are generating more revenue and keeping malls viable, said Megan McGowen Crouch, Auburn Development Services executive director. These smaller retail spaces are easier to lease to local, regional and national tenants, she said.
“The last thing we would want is for the mall to be anything but viable,” Crouch said.
The new entrance will allow easier access to Dillard’s and the popular Ole Times Country Buffet, which Crouch said is a significant revenue generator for the city.
Full demolition is set to take place in early summer, and construction will continue throughout the year. Construction will not impact the day-to-day mall operations and is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019.
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The partnership between Hull and the city includes a sales tax rebate. When sales tax is collected at the mall, some of that money will be returned to Hull Property Group. The amount of money that is rebated each year is capped to protect the city’s tax base. This means that the risk of the project lies with Hull, rather than the city, Crouch said.
Hull Property Group is located out of Atlanta and is heavily invested in the Auburn community, according to Crouch.
“The City of Auburn has been at the forefront of supporting efforts to attract new restaurants and retailers to the community,” said Jim Hull, managing principal of Hull Property Group. “This is one more step in the right direction of creating a successful shopping and dining destination for the people of Auburn.”
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