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Towne Centre History

Towne Centre History

Hickory Ridge Mall is a one-level, enclosed, super-regional shopping center located in Memphis, Tennessee at the intersection of Winchester Road and Hickory Hill in the southeast part of Shelby County in West Tennessee.

mall-history-poloradThe mall totals 973,033 square feet (SF), which includes three anchor buildings (Sears: 126, 792 SF, a vacant building once housing Macy’s at 220,000 SF, and a vacant building once housing Dillard’s at 149,574 SF), approximately 90 stores and a food court featuring nine spaces along with a sit-down cafeteria, not part of the food court. It also features a market-exclusive, double-decker Venetian carousel. Leasable area totals 345,101 SF. The land parcels total 85.16 acres, 68.16 acres owned with 4,302 parking spaces.

The building construction is comprised of a steel frame supported by spread footing. The walls are gypsum wall board sheathing on metal studs faced with brick with a Dryvit plastic fascia. The building’s heating and cooling systems consist of six rooftop units that supply the common areas and the management office.

Hickory Ridge Mall underwent a major interior renovation in 1997. The scope of work included: entrance improvement, additional interior lighting, flooring replacement, and new common area seating and furnishings.

The mall was struck by a tornado on February 5, 2008, which caused damage to the center court atrium and adjacent tenant spaces. The Sears store, the Macy's store, and the mall's main entrance were heavily damaged, but despite an initial statement from management that the mall would remain closed "indefinitely" for cleanup, temporary repairs made at record speed allowed Sears to reopen on Sunday, February 10, 2008. Significant repairs and restorations will still be required, however. Several people were injured. Debris from the mall, in the form of insulating foam, was scattered all over the Memphis area, following the storm path northeastward at least 15 miles (24 km) to the Wolfchase area. Aerial images show a large hole in the center of Macy's, while the north wall of Sears is missing. Damage to the central portions of the mall is hard to notice, but video taken from inside immediately following the tornado showed minor flooding within the building due to roof damage. Macy's announced it would not reopen due to damage to the building. The mall was evacuated by all the tenants by design so that a thorough engineering survey of the entire building area could be conducted.

Hickory Ridge Mall first opened in August 1981. On December 30, 1986 the mall was sold for $50,329,752 and was expanded. In 1997 the mall was renovatedto compete with the Wolfchase Galleria mall opening that year. It was sold again for $13.5 million on March 18, 2003, and for $1.4 million on October 10, 2008.

Several factors have contributed to the shopping center’s transformation over its recent history. The I-385 freeway was opened north of Winchester Road, changing traffic patterns. The Hickory Hill area was annexed by the City of Memphis, doubling real estate taxes on commercial and residential property owners. In excess of two million SF of new retail was opened in Collierville and Cordova as developers chased the suburban expansion east.

These market changes caused the average occupancy at the mall to fall from 61.6% in 2005 to 52.5% in 2007.

Total sales volume generated by the property dropped from approximately $128 million to $62 million in 2007. As ten-year-old leases expired and national retailers opted for new developments farther east, rental rates for new leasing fell from approximately $35 PSF to $15 PSF. As a result, the property rental income eroded from $6.8 million in 2005 to $4.6 million in 2007.

What appeared to be a bleak end to the Hickory Ridge Mall soon transformed into a hope of life and vibrancy, when in 2008, World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church intervened and embraced a vision to progressively purchase the property, totalling $2.7M, including the Macy’s and Dillard’s parcels. The future for the Hickory Ridge Mall, as the “New Towne Centre” for the community can only usher in positive change, restoration, revitalization, economic empowerment, personal and family enrichment, partnership, and a unified community via neighbourhood involvement.

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