Gina Inkum of Hoskins Inkum prepares taxes last week.
"We feel that once the community center and hockey rink, as well as the library and park, are open, our flow of traffic will tremendously increase at that time," he said.
Last May's reopening of the mall was greeted with optimism that the once vibrant shopping center was getting a second lease on life. Entrepreneurs such as Hema Patel set up shop, fulfilling dreams of owning a business with a storefront. Others, such as the owners of Seafood Sensation restaurant off Jefferson Street, saw an expansion opportunity.
"Consumers and residents would need to see a dramatic change, and the best way to accomplish that is by changing the use of a large portion of the property from small retail mall type space to a creative, alternate use," said Austin Benedict, a retail broker with Colliers International's Nashville office. "There's just not enough demand to fill that entire mall back with retail like it once was."
Benedict cites a call center as an example of a creative new use. Hospital chain HCA and cellphone insurer Asurion, for instance, are adding hundreds of jobs at their new support operations Prada Crossbody Saffiano in other parts of the Hickory Hollow area.
Others such as Tyler and Anna Lummis, owners of Candy Crush, are hoping for more traffic.
In between greeting guests, Aggarwal expressed optimism that traffic would pick up in August when several amenities the city is creating both at the mall and near it begin operation.
In June, the mall's owners and other partners also plan to open a 25,000 square foot international grocery store with an entrance to the outside, he said. It would offer products from various continents, meat and fresh fish.
"I can see it will work, believe it is going to," said Rico Hannah, who quit his job to open clothing store Hannah's Touch next to Candy Crush in the mall. "It's just a matter of time."
Several tenants are in a similar wait and see mode, although meager sales make that difficult by the day. Many real estate observers, meanwhile, said that while the new amenities might lure a few more patrons, a broader reinvention of the mall's inner core is needed to achieve any significant success.
Mall faces an identity crisis
biggest challenge," Shetkar added, referring to negative perceptions, including about crime. "It took time to go down, and it's going to take some time to bring it back."
The entertainment center and the Global Events Center that the mall owners also run are part of the strategy to draw patrons into the building, said Ravi Shetkar, the mall's general manager.
"You've got a situation that you have to figure out what retail use fits this new set of big box tenants," El Gammal said, adding that retailers of soft goods such as clothes are no longer ideal for the retail space. "It's a matter of redefining who they are."
Gina Inkum, who opened Hoskins Prada Bag Design
more smaller, professional services office tenants could help to expand Global Mall's reach. Benedict, however, said although small businesses might find that office space attractive, Antioch still lacks the market fundamentals that would attract large, high quality office users.
Madhat Morcos, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia who owns Naomi Gift Shop, is trying to sell off his inventory after losing $25,000 in six months. "There's no business," he said.
On a recent Sunday, the busiest areas at the Global Mall were the play court area on the lower level and Global Fun and Food, a family entertainment center with rooms for birthday parties, games, a buffet and plans for laser tag and more video games.
Inkum as a satellite office of her employer Hoskins Co., sees opportunity for the Global Mall to add more such professional services businesses as tenants. "That's the way I see it being like 100 Oaks Mall has retail and Vanderbilt medical offices" in the same building, she said.
"It was basically a waste of time and money," Morgan said.
Nine months after the Antioch shopping center assumed its new identity, less than 20 percent of the mall's 200 storefronts are occupied. And with meager revenues coming in to support monthly six figure operating costs, the $64 million question is how long can Aggarwal continue to absorb steep losses.
He said the mall's owners didn't keep their promise to recruit more businesses and also failed to assemble a management team with experience to attract major chains. "The problem is when people come to that mall, they think about what it used to be," Morgan said. "And when they walk around and see the empty spaces, there's no reason for them to come back."
Most of the former big box spaces are repurposed to educational and community uses, such as Nashville State Community College's satellite campus. That's changed the mall's environment, El Gammal said. Now there are fewer destination shoppers, which makes the retail space there less attractive to major retailers, he said.
El Gammal agrees Prada Eyeglasses Blue And Brown
"The history of the mall is the Prada White Wallet
As days went by and most storefronts sat empty, some of those hopes were dashed. Patel closed her Panache Jewelers in January, and business partners Darren Morgan and Jamal Britton closed Seafood Sensation at the mall.
TarekEl Gammal, an associate with Southeast Venture LLC, sees food service as an important part of the tenant mix at Global Mall to cater to nearby workers. "To the extent the mall can figure out a way to provide a convenient source of dining for this influx of daytime employment, it's a wonderful opportunity because the infrastructure is there," he added.
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