New Life For Eastland Mall

Friday, March 23rd 2007, 2:14 pm
By: News On 6

Coca-Cola wants to hire 300 people for a new customer service center in the old Eastland Mall, now named Eastgate Metroplex. But the Coca-Cola news is just one step in a very promising transformation of the long-suffering mall. News On 6 business reporter Steve Berg reports the facilities new life will be more office complex than mall.

Gerry Chauvin has worked in many different cities across the country. His specialty is resurrecting dead and dying shopping malls.

"Typically what will happen is their best afterlife is bringing them back in a predominantly office environment," he said.

Not only has Eastland died, but many nearby stores like the Target across the street have gone belly up. But believe it or not, Chauvin says he's seen and revived worse. In Baton Rouge, he says he had a mall and a crime riddled neighborhood that were in much worse shape than Eastland. That refurbished mall in Baton Rouge is now 90% full. Chauvin’s strategy with former malls is to create a sort of self-contained village with things for workers to do within the mall. In fact the new plan for Eastland includes bringing back the movie theater.

"When they get off, if you have a restaurant they can go to, the family fun center behind us, go check a movie it's an added piece," Chauvin said.

The tough part is to get the ball rolling.

"It's a chicken and an egg. They're not going to come obviously until there's a customer base to serve," said Chauvin.

But now they have one with Coca-Cola, which is already prepping its space in the mall.

"Completely gutting everything, new roof, all new mechanical equipment, all new electrical systems, so by the time we're done, it will be state of the art and almost completely redone," Chauvin said.

It's been a good week for the Chamber of Commerce, which has a goal to create 26,000 new jobs in the next 5 years.

"Three-hundred-eighty jobs this week with Foam Rubber products and Coca-Cola enterprises, not long ago we had the Shaw Industries announcement and we have a couple more prospects on the list right now," said Tulsa Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Sheila Curley.

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