Although renovations have been put on hold during the busy holiday shopping season, the Statesboro Mall is taking on a new look as its owners embark on a major facelift of Statesboro's renowned shopping landmark.
The renovations are extensive, and shoppers are just getting a taste of what the Mall will look like when the project is completed this spring.
"We really wanted to have everything done by the Christmas shopping season, but we had to due our renovations in conjunction with Belks, and that expansion took a little longer than we anticipated," said John Gibson, chief operating officer of Hull Storey Gibson Companies, LLC, the owner of the Statesboro Mall.
"We got a little bit of a late start, but we wanted to show progress, and give everyone and idea of what is to come."
Gibson said mall owners are committed to investing in improvements to the Mall.
"Statesboro is a growing market and we see great opportunity both short and long term for the Mall and all our tenants," he said. "When you see restaurants like Olive Garden and Cracker Barrel open and retail shops like Hobby Lobby and TJMaxx open, it only serves to make Statesboro a more attractive market for shoppers and business in general."
While there has been limited work done on the exterior up until this point, interior renovations are noticeable and extensive. The ceiling was raised throughout the common area of the mall by at least three feet yielding a much more open feel.
New, updated lighting fixtures were added, as well as carpeting, and decorative additions giving each storefront a more individualized appearance.
"Before, you would look down a mall corridor, and the front of each of the retail shops sort ran together," Gibson said. "This gives each of them a much more distinguishable presence."
The large fixture that was in the center of the mall was removed in addition to the metal decorative structure that was atop the main entrance into the building from the parking lot fronting Northside Drive. The removal of that structure required a very, large crane which blocked the entrance for a number of hours.
"There were a few days that were difficult for both retailers and shoppers," said Bill Hatcher, owner of the Hen House in the Mall. "But, having said that, the improvements are wonderful, and were needed, and we are very pleased at how everything is turning out. The remodeling has stopped for now, so everyone needs to come see what has been done, and come shop."
Other renovations for the interior include new public restrooms, which will be larger than those they are replacing.
"I just think it is very important to have nice restrooms, and I think people are really going to be amazed at just how nice these are going to be," Gibson said. "They are going to be really beautiful."
Gibson acknowledged that the rear of the mall looks more like a shopping center than a mall, and plans are to dramatically change the appearance to be more consistent with the front.
"The frontage of Vandy's and Sears, as well as both mall entrances will see a change that will be more in keeping with the rest of the building," he said. "It is going to be very attractive. One of the things we don't want to do is to limit any access into the building. So, all current entryways will remain."
Gibson said some of the parking grid will be reworked as well.
"The configuration of parking isn't what it needs to be right now, so we will be addressing that as well," he said. "It is really going to be very nice when everything is done. Also, the clearing that has been done at the corner of Brannen and Lovett is for aesthetic purposes. We want the property to have more visibility."
Constructed in 1971, the Statesboro Mall is 262,058 square feet in size and has more than a 1,000 parking spaces. Belk's was its first tenant.
Hull Storey Gibson Companies is a multi-faceted retail real estate acquisition, management and development company based in Augusta, Georgia with a retail portfolio in excess of 12 million square feet. Hull Storey Gibson is one of the largest privately owned retail real estate companies of its kind in the Southeast. The company also owns and operates Gentilly Square and Southern Square shopping centers in Statesboro.