“You may have noticed some construction going on the past few weeks,” said Managing Director Kirk Williams, of Cypress Equities, the Dallas developer behind the shopping center’s improvements. “We are making some necessary and unique changes for Flagstaff Mall.”
Local contractors such as Wespac Construction Inc, Colter Electric LLC and Intermountain Plumbing, Mechanical and Solar are preparing areas designed to create community space that will invite people to gather, once it is safe to get together. “Human beings are social creatures, hard-wired to seek solace in human interaction and community. We crave human contact and revel in shared experiences,” said Flagstaff Mall General Manager Bonnie Bouschet.
“Shopping online does not answer our desire for these shared experiences. Gathering at Flagstaff Mall does,” she continued. The remodel project focuses on redeveloping significant areas on JCPenney’s west wing of the center.
Several modifications of space at the mall will tap into the desire for shared experiences. One, a new outdoor communal area, will be located between Dillard’s and JCPenney on the south side of the property adjacent to Route 66. The space “will give shoppers an outdoor place to gather and relax with their family and friends,” said Bouschet.
The outdoor area adjoins indoor space revamped as a place for family-friendly entertainment. “So often I hear from the guys, ‘We need a place to go while our wives are shopping,’ and so, hey, we’re making that happen for you,” said Bouschet. “It will be a fun place to hang out.”
A new mall tenant, whose identity has yet to be revealed, will manage both renovated spaces. Mall officials plan to announce the new tenant soon.
Another change to space utilization at the mall is the addition of Planet Fitness, which opened last November but then closed recently because of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on health clubs. Once it reopens, the fitness center will provide areas where people can come together for the synergy of group workouts led by physical trainers in a non-intimidating “Judgement Free Zone.” The Flagstaff health club is the only Planet Fitness in Arizona taking advantage of a mall location.
Straightline Builders, Inc., also a local contractor, built the two stand-alone structures on the Highway 89 periphery of the mall parking lot. Starbucks Coffee Company opened in one last January, and the other is awaiting a lease. “I am always pushing local contractors, and whenever possible, we use local,” said Bouschet.
More Mall Makeovers
On the north end of the mall, contractors are renovating space for Hobby Lobby, a mega arts and crafts and home decor store. “We are excited to be adding Hobby Lobby to our existing strong anchors, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Planet Fitness,” the mall general manager continued. “We are also activating the interior of the mall with entertainment. We are finding that entertainment and shared social experiences are the new ‘anchors’ in our properties across the country.”
New additions to the Food Court include Elevated Pizza, locally owned by Jeff and Lucinda Hutchison, who also own and operate the Old World Style Almonds kiosk in the mall.
This month, the Flagstaff Mall is sponsoring a blood drive on Aug. 22. Those who donate blood that day will receive a COVID-19 antibody blood test. “Our blood drive has been phenomenal,” said Bouschet, who believes people have been more conscientious about donating blood during the pandemic. Next month’s mall blood drive is scheduled for Sept. 11 and 12, to commemorate 9/11.
In addition to the new happenings, locally owned Frederick Fisher Jewelers is celebrating 40 years at Flagstaff Mall this year.
The Flagstaff Mall remodel is expected to be completed this fall. Select stores are currently open at the mall. Modified hours are noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone is required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
“Shopping at Flagstaff Mall supports our community; we have many locally owned businesses,” said Bouschet. “Purchasing locally also supports our community, as your tax dollars are kept local.” FBN
By Stacey Wittig, FBN
4650 North US Highway 89, Flagstaff