Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads has signed 42 new leases since April and the owners think the mall can be fully resurrected in 18 months — faster than the three years first envisioned.
That was a highlight of the annual bus tour of commercial developments this week by the Realtors Commercial Alliance of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors. Plaza Mayor Manager Kristi Cole updated commercial real estate agents and others on the turnaround underway by owner Raptor Properties.
The mall had 30 stores when Raptor acquired it two years ago. New stores, eateries and special events attracting thousands already have brought former Crossroads Mall — considered a “dead mall” — a long way, she said.
“When the owners bought the mall in 2011, they were trying to figure out what to do with it,” Cole said. “The great thing about Oklahoma is you can get anywhere in 10 minutes — in Oklahoma City. But that's a bad thing for retailers because you can go 10 minutes to Dillard's right up the road. You can go 10 minutes south to J.C. Penney.
“It's really hard for big retailers to want to come back here, just for that reason. So what we're going to do is attract the retailers that aren't in Oklahoma yet. But we're going to do it with a bit of a flair — a Hispanic flair.”
She said a section of the mall called El Parian will be leased to more than 300 merchants in 10-by-12-foot booth spaces, although the unexpected lease of 157,000 square feet of space to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deal with the May tornadoes has slowed that project.
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Realtors' bus tour
Other presentations on the bus tour included:
• Vince Howie, project manager of Envision 240, who said an application for a tax-exempt 501(c) 6 incorporated business association had been started as a step toward forming a business improvement district for ongoing efforts to improve, beautify and better market the Interstate 240 corridor.
• Joe Echelle, assistant division engineer with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, who updated early plans to reconfigure the I-240/I-35 interchange in multiple phases through 2019. Officials have met with stakeholders in the area and public meetings will be held in the spring, he said.
• Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, who talked about SHINE (Start Helping Impacted Neighborhoods Everywhere), which he started in 2010 to put minor criminal offenders to work cleaning up blighted areas.
Maughan also talked about efforts to brand south side neighborhoods, “stuff like you always see on the north side of (Interstate 240).” College Heights around OCCC is one example.