Christiana Mall increases shopping area by 50 percent
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Updated: Sunday, November 29, 2009 18:11
The detour signs in the parking lot are gone. The scaffolding has been taken down and the dust cleared. What remains is newly-laid tile, the smell of fresh paint, glistening new storefronts and signs for those to come, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
The renovations at the Christiana Mall began two years ago in November 2007. Now, shoppers are finally starting to see results, Steve Chambliss, general manager of the mall, said.
"The original part of mall was renovated so that means we put in new tile, new ceilings, new amenities, new landscaping, new entrances to the existing part of mall and then we added four new sections," Chambliss said. "We added a new food court, which is a brand new building, and we added a large selection of retail on the east side called East Lifestyle Center."
The East Lifestyle Center will include Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, The Cheesecake Factory, J.Crew and Anthropology, among others, mall officals announced at a press conference Thursday. These are all scheduled to open throughout the coming year.
The press conference also marked the opening of other new stores in the mall, including Bebe, Brighton Collectibles, Bare Esscentuals, Barnes and Noble and more, and the conclusion of the interior and exterior renovations.
Currently, most of the new stores are open and the shopping area of the mall has increased by 50 percent, Chambliss said.
Nine stores have opened this month and a total of 34 new stores have been opened to date. There will be 19 more in 2010 and 12 more the year after.
Added to the exterior of the mall are not only two new entrances and a new façade, but also a "streetscape" where shoppers can access the stores in the East Lifestyle Center from outside, the mall's press release said.
Sephora and Banana Republic are stores that were in the mall before but have been renovated and the new food court has already opened.
Other new stores and restaurants that will open include Nordstroms and White House Black Market in 2011 and JB Dawson's, Oakley and PS from Aéropostale in 2010, Chambliss said.
Chambliss said that the plans for renovation started years ago, for two key reasons.
"The original mall was in need of an update," he said. "The other part is that we did want to offer a better variety of stores and restaurants to attract customers from farther away and to offer more sophisticated shopping options."
Part of this was also to deter in-state customers from traveling to other places, like the King of Prussia Mall in Pa., for a better variety of stores, he said. Also, Delaware's lack of sales tax makes it a very appealing place to shop.
The renovation not only began long ago, but long before the collapse of the economy, Chambliss said. Even though the state of the economy might put a damper on the opening of new stores now, he said the plans are for long-term success.
The expansion still comes as good news for students. The Christiana Mall is convenient because it is closer to campus than other malls.
Laura Natali, a junior who frequents the Christiana Mall and said she is excited about the new stores.
"It looks really cool; it's something different. I mean they didn't really have a whole lot there," Natali said. "It would be so much better to have a King of Prussia or something closer but now that they have these stores opening I'll never have to go there."
Junior Amanda Frino also shops at the Christiana Mall regularly.
"I've only been to King of Prussia once," Frino said. "I usually just go to Christiana because it's closer — I like that it's close."
Gov. Jack Markell was at the opening Thursday and expressed his excitement for the new renovations.
"The Christiana Mall has created jobs and economic activity in Delaware for more than four decades," Markell said at the mall press conference. "The expansion we're celebrating today will help the mall remain an important part of our state's economy in the future, with more Delawareans working and thousands of new non-Delawareans spending."