VIENNA - The Grand Central Mall brought in new businesses and remained a retail destination in 2010.
Over the last year, the mall saw the addition of Route 21, a new Hallmark, an AT&T kiosk and Giorgio's Restaurant, said Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the Grand Central Mall.
The mall will soon be opening a new Dress Barn, she said.
Over the last year, the mall saw the addition of Route 21, a new Hallmark, an AT&T kiosk and Giorgio’s Restaurant, said Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the Grand Central Mall.
"We did get quite a few new stores last year," Stephens said. "Route 21 opened next to center court and that filled a 5,000-square-foot space in the old Footlocker space.
"That was a great store to add to our retail mix. It is a junior apparel store, which carries both male and female lines, that has done really well."
The mall, owned and operated by Glimcher Properties, continues to be a shopping destination for people throughout the region, as it is the only sizable shopping mall within 77 miles, mall officials said. The Grand Central Mall is almost at full capacity with only a few vacancies available.
After being without Hallmark for a time, Adams Hallmark opened in October in the same space that was once occupied by Dudley's Hallmark.
"We were also able to bring back our inside dining restaurant which we have been missing for a couple of years," Stephens said.
Giorgio's is in the former Caesar's Italian Restaurant site. The same people who were behind Caesar's opened Giorgio's, remodeled the space and now offer many of the same Italian favorites.
"They are doing really well," Stephens said. "That obviously filled a great need for us.
"It is very nice to have a sit-down restaurant in the mall again."
The mall will be opening a 8,000-square-foot Dress Barn location at the site of the former GAP in early March. The store will specialize in women's apparel.
"It is going to fill a huge vacancy at the north end of the mall," Stephens said. "We are thrilled to see that.
"That space has been vacant for over a year."
The space is under construction with a tentative opening date of March 1.
The mall continually has retailers looking at space in the mall and on its surrounding parcels. Plans are already in place for the site of the former Rally's Hamburgers with an announcement expected soon. A 1,100-square-foot parcel is available between Borders and Old Navy.
The mall recently cleared out the Firestone building at the back of the Outback Steakhouse.
"That was vacant for about 20 years and it was just wasted space," Stephens said. "We tore it down and it creates a lot of room for future development, whether it be additional parking or actually leasable space. We are working on that right now.
"Inside the mall we have a few vacancies, but not many."
The mall recently gave its children's play area a makeover. Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., the "Tum-E Yummies Enchanted Garden" opened in November.
"It has done really well," Stephens said. "The new play area is a lot brighter and more fun.
"There are a lot of height elements and it is a more interactive play area. It really freshens up the mall. We are really excited about it."
The mall's traffic numbers saw an increase in 2010 over previous years as people began spending more following the economic downturn.
"Traffic was up five percent in 2010 which was great," Stephens said. "People are definitely hitting the mall.
"It is a little bit of a reflection of the economy bouncing back as well and we were really happy to see that."
The mall continued its involvement with the community through its Earning for Learning program and the Magical Night of Giving which helps area schools and nonprofit organizations.
The mall was able to give out $20,000 to local schools through Earning for Learning, including St. John Central Grade School ($10,000), St. Mary's Catholic in Marietta ($5,000), Belpre Christian Academy ($3,000) and Parkersburg Catholic High School ($2,000).
People bring in receipts to the mall which are used to award points to each participating school. The program is set up where large and small schools are on equal footing and compete on the same level.
"Each year we see around 40 to 45 schools participate," Stephens said. "We saw about $800,000 in receipts turned in this year.
"There was huge support this past year for those schools. It becomes very competitive, especially among the schools that land in the top 10. Year after year, we get more receipts turned in. It gets better and better each year."
The Magical Night of Giving raised around $18,000 for area nonprofits.
Nonprofit organizations go out and sell tickets to the special holiday shopping event. The groups keep all the money from the ticket sales. The stores at the mall have special offers for shopper during that time and more.
"This was our 13th annual event," Stephens said. "We see about 8,000 people come through our doors for that four-hour period.
"It is definitely the biggest way we can help the community each year."
Over the last year, the mall had a number of special programs for people in the community including Sensitive Santa for children with autism. With all the lights and sounds at Christmas time, many children with autism don't get to see Santa because of the sensory overload.
Sensitive Santa was a program started at the Dayton Mall and has been adopted by many malls in the Glimcher group. The mall picked a time before opening when it could turn the lights down and not have loud music playing and children with autism could visit with Santa.
"We thought it was wonderful," Stephens said. "We had 32 families show up.
"For a lot of them it was the first time they got to sit with Santa. We had parents coming and telling us how wonderful it was. It was a first for us, but it is going to be something that we will continue to do. The response to it was awesome."
The mall continues to be a vital part of the community.
"We certainly want to thank the community for their support of Grand Central Mall," Stephens said. "Their patronage supports our retailers and their employees, and allows us to continue to give back to the community with programs like Earning for Learning and Magical Night of Giving.
"It's great that after all of these years, we are still the 'go to' retail establishment that we have been since day one."