Upper Valley Mall at crossroads

Local leaders, mall store owners very concerned.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has kept you up to date on all the happenings at the Upper Valley Mall, including documenting its recent struggles.

The Upper Valley Mall is at a crossroads as it continues its search to fill the void left by the announced closings of two of its three anchor stores.

Local leaders say all options should be considered.

“Anything we could get in here would attract people,” Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said. “It doesn’t have to be retail.”

JCPenney and Macy’s announced on back-to-back days last week plans to close this spring, leaving Sears as the only anchor store in the mall. Sears has said in a statement to the Springfield News-Sun it has no plans of leaving.

Upper Valley Mall General Manager Brenda LaBonte declined to comment for this story.

Detrick said the loss of the two department stores will cost the county about $165,000 in tax revenue and he would like to get new stores in there as soon as possible.

He added the new management team has been aggressive in finding new tenants and is considering lowering rent to attract major stores.

Detrick said he would love to see Burlington Coat Factory move to the mall.

He explained if the mall is not able to attract a new department store, he would support finding alternative uses for the space, like the Boonshoft Museum or Home Plate Sports indoor batting cages that are currently in the mall.

Local business owners said they are hopeful a new retailers will fill the anchor store void.

Karen Nelson started Lady Elizabeth Bridal and Tux in her own home, then moved to the mall five years ago. She said 2014 was her best year to date and contributes much of that to the mall’s traffic.

“We love this store,” Nelson said. “I really don’t want to leave. We will stay as long as we possibly can.”

Nelson, whose shop is catty-corner to Macy’s, said she did not see the departure coming.

“We were disappointed, but I think somebody else will probably move in,” she said.

Wilma Wiles, of New Carlisle, has been going to the Upper Valley Mall since it opened in 1971. Wiles said she was shocked when she heard the news of the two anchors leaving.

“(I am) horrified, because it is the only mall we have around here at all,” Wiles said.

No announcements have been made on the future of the mall, but Wiles said the word the street is that the situation is dire.

“I heard the rumor that it is going out and I just don’t want it to,” she said. “We need it.”

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