What's next for the Milledgeville Mall after JCPenney closes?

Two stores closing in Milledgeville mall

Large enclosed malls are fading fast thanks to the spike in online shopping.

The Milledgeville Mall is one of the only larger facilities available for consumers between Eatonton and Sparta, but two stores plan to vacate the mall soon, one of which is an anchor store.

"It's changed, and not for the better," Dianne Vance said.

Dianne Vance says she used to shop at the Milledgeville Mall nearly twice a week. Now, she rarely comes.

Vance says she's sad to see the mall losing stores.

“This is where I did the bulk of my shopping and indoor large malls are important to me as a consumer," Vance said.

Rue 21 won't be here at the Milledgeville Mall for much longer. The clothing chain and other larger anchor stores like JCPenney are closing a number of locations across the country, and Milledgeville is on both lists.

So what does that mean for the future of the Milledgeville Mall?

Well for now it means Hull Property Group -- who owns the mall -- has a lot of work to do.

"This isn't the direction we want to see this property move in, but we really feel like we're at a crucial point where we need to work together to determine how we can turn this ship around," Coles Doyle said.

Coles Doyle with Hull Property Group says it will be an uphill climb.

"It's a reflection of the new realities of retail and the struggles that tenants are facing, competing with online shopping and the evolution of customer habits and needs and taste," Doyle said.

Doyle says the first challenge is figuring out what to do with the JCPenney space.

"Reconfiguring that space to accommodate smaller shops, or potentially demolishing that area and redeveloping the back of the mall may be necessary," Doyle said.

Vance says she hopes the owners won't forget the people who enjoy the enclosed mall atmosphere.

"I just hope that they're successful and they consider the ones of us that like to go, to touch, to feel, to experience," Vance said.

Doyle says JCPenney and Rue 21 will close later this summer.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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