KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville Center Mall was acquired by the Knoxville Partners, LLC investment group.
The mall was sold to WP Glimcher in 2014, but is still being managed by its former owner Simon Malls. Knoxville Partners, LLC said they are interested in revitalizing the property.
The group of investors said they approached the previous owners four years ago and began negotiations with WP Glimcher in 2015 after it was announced that the mall was for sale.
Previous story: Knoxville Center Mall for sale
“Knoxville Partners, LLC has a long term commitment to renovate and redevelop the existing mall and surrounding land. With a commitment to recruiting new businesses, tenants, and entertainment pieces, their end goal will be to reinvigorate Knoxville Center into a thriving retail and residential hub for this community,” said investors in a statement.
“I think it’s a great thing for the mall. They are local and they have a true interest in repairing the mall in a positive way, revitalizing the community. We plan to have lots of events here. So we want the community to come out and enjoy the mall,” said Lara Sievers, with Knoxville Partners LLC.
They can’t go into much detail about plans yet, but say in addition to new shops, physical improvements to the building and property are part of what’s ahead as well.
“I was excited to hear someone bought it and was going to revitalize it,” said Tim Amanns.
Knoxville Center Mall opened in 1984 as East Towne Mall. Back then, shoppers said it was the place to be on the weekends.
“Your parents dumped you off and this was the place to be,” said Kelli Bohanan.
Related story: At least 4 stores in Knoxville Center Mall closing
Bohanan said the mall is not like that anymore. The mall has seen some decline in recent years with a number of stores closing or moving elsewhere, including some in the nearby vicinity. A group called “Save East Towne Mall” has been working to help business prosper at the mall and surrounding area.
“The mall is just empty as you go in. It’s just very much a hollow hole. There’s no stores of interest,” said Bohanan.
This is making some people shop elsewhere, like West Town Mall.
“It’s just nicer. There is more selection,” said Angie Amanns.
Currently, about 30 percent of the mall stores are vacant. Lauren Crisp, who grew up on the east side of town and makes weekly visits with her kids, has hopes for those spaces.
“I would love to see a Macy’s. I miss Dillard’s being here. That was a place we shopped at a lot before it closed down,” Crisp said.
Shoppers would love to see more department stores in this lot.
“We would love to see a Macy’s. That would be a huge draw,” said Angie Amanns.
One thing not drawing crowds to this area is its stigma of crime.
“My mother doesn’t go there. She feels she has to hold onto her purse tightly,” said Bohanan.
“If you didn’t have all of these empty stores than people wouldn’t think it is as run down,” said Angie Amanns.
Knoxville Partners, LLC said they encourage the community to give them input and ideas for the redevelopment effort. Ideas and comments may be sent via email to email@example.com.
“I think if they put money into it it will come back,” said Tim Amanns.