Southern Illinois city to buy vacant outlet mall - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Southern Illinois city to buy vacant outlet mall

WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - A southern Illinois city plans to buy a dormant outlet mall in hopes of spurring redevelopment along a highway interchange.

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (bit.ly/1LLSBhM ) reports that West Frankfort elected leaders have approved a $1.8 million purchase of a former Factory Stores of America site and surrounding property near the city's Interstate 57 exit ramp.

The city's contract for the 20-acre purchase from a Fresno, California, developer provides for a 60-day review period before the deal is final.

Street and Public Improvements Commissioner, commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers calls the purchase an "economic development dream come true."

Residents and daily shoppers say it’ll be great for the city.

 “I think West Frankfort is a hub for 57,” James Betts said. “There’s a lot of traffic and stuff and the more they offer, the more that’s going to help the economy and this town.”

“It would bring more people into the mall as long as they have more things to offer,” Sharron Gholson said. “There’s plenty of empty spacing in the mall, so they oughta be putting some stores in that would help.”

City leaders say they hope to bring in more retail businesses to the 91,000 square foot mall, and it’s something they say will bring success not only to West Frankfort, but for Southern Illinois.

“We are a grouping of very small communities for the most part, so we have to stick together,” Farsol-Chambers said. “Projects like this in Franklin County, which has had one of the highest unemployment rates on and off for many years, will benefit the many surrounding areas as well.”

The mall was built in 1990, but city leaders say it has gotten more vacant throughout the years.

Steve Sawalich, the manager of the Advanced Hearing Center in the mall says he’s ready to see the mall full again.

“Malls are kind of a thing of the past,” Sawalich said. “You can shop online and go anywhere in the world. But they’re going to kind of make it a business incubator like for it to grow and we’re right off the interstate – it’s easy access, a great location.”

City leaders said they will work with future businesses to get established in the mall, whether it be financial help or whatever the needs may be.

The city’s contract for the 20-acre purchase has a 60-day review period before the deal is final.

Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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