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Jan 13, 1:43 PM EST

Work begins on Wisconsin mall revitalization project


RACINE, Wis. (AP) -- Work has begun on a multi-million dollar transformation of a once-thriving mall in southeast Wisconsin.

Mall owner Hull Property Group has begun interior renovations at the Regency Mall in Racine, The Journal Times reported. The Augusta, Georgia based company purchased the mall in 2016 for $9.5 million.

The group will begin renovations by replacing vacant storefronts with walls covered in murals, photos and quotes. New ceilings, lighting and carpet will then be installed. The mall's bathrooms will also be redone.

The interior makeover will take 10 to 12 weeks, said John Mulherin, Hull's vice president for government relations. Most of the work will be done at night, he said.

The renovations follow a series of store and kiosk closings at the mall. Almost all of the recent closings were done by the mall's owners as part of a revitalization plan, though American Eagle Outfitters closing was the exception. Hull would've preferred keeping American Eagle in the mall, Mulherin said.

"Sustainable success will be with national, branded stores," he said.

Twelve weeks of exterior construction will begin in the spring, Mulherin said. That work will focus on redesigning the mall's entrances.

"We beef them up, give them some verticality, some prominence," Mulherin said. "The whole point is to orchestrate a new look and feel that gives momentum."

While the construction work will be the expensive part of the mall revitalization project, the most difficult part will be finding new tenants, he said.

"Will we dominate again like (Regency) did in '82?" Mulherin said. "Absolutely not. But we think we can be competitive. We can be viable, we can be relevant again."

The mall opened in 1981 and has 700,000 enclosed square feet.

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Information from: The Journal Times, http://www.journaltimes.com

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