Retail is changing around the country. It is here, too.
Knoxville Partners LLC, the investor group which owns East Towne Mall, has applied to MPC to change the zoning on nine acres of the 50-acre mall campus to planned residential (RP-1) to enable them or another developer to build some 250 apartments on the northwest corner of the property. That’s the parking lot area just beyond the JCPenney building.
The request is item 50 on the MPC agenda for Thursday, July 13.
This is a logical extension of the Partners’ broader plan to restore this nearly $12 million investment to a profitable status. In a changed environment, they know that changes are needed. The group works out of Knoxville’s Henry and Wallace business located on Gay Street.
According to Patrick King, their rental and property spokesperson, the group is active on several fronts. They are daily beating the retail bushes to locate the next generation of retail stores and restaurants for the mall.
They have recently created office space on the top floor near Sears – an action that is bringing tenants seeking convenient space with good road access and ample parking for clients and employees. Such office workers and their clients can conveniently stroll down the hall and grab lunch at the food court.
The Partners are also planning development of outparcel buildings that might attract new restaurants or even a hotel. They will also be cutting in new openings to access currently interior mall businesses for those potential customers in a hurry to make a quick stop, who are not looking for the 1980s-era stroll through the entire mall.
Inside, Saw Works Brewery is building a tasting room across from the movie theatre.
Smart, buy your tickets then stop in for some refreshments.
Such changes are evolving and inevitable. As Darwin teaches us: “Adapt or Perish.”