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City plans for Citadel Mall renovation

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

West Ashley residents are buzzing on social media, anxious to see changes made to the Citadel Mall.

Several Facebook pages and groups have been created, now with thousands of members, and they all want more out of their neighborhood retail space.

"I'm a lifelong citizen of West Ashley, so I've shopped over here all my life," said Liz DeLoach, resident.

DeLoach is just one of nearly 4,500 people who have joined a Facebook group called "Support Citadel Mall's Revitalization."

"It gives members of the community an opportunity to engage, talk about the type of tenants we'd like to see and what we would support with our patronage," said DeLoach.

On the page, many residents have echoed similar visions for the renovation.

"It would look more modern, it would have a tenant mix that the community here wants and needs and would patronize," said DeLoach. "It would be a premiere destination for our region."

Group members often post polls, asking each other what big name retailers they would want to come to the mall. Macy's and Pottery Barn are popular picks.

The online chatter has gained the attention of city leaders. They're also coming up with plans for renovating the space.

"There's no question that this is the greatest opportunity, in the region, when it comes to a commercial property, to make a great place that people will want to go to all the time," said Tim Keane, Director of Planning, City of Charleston.

The Citadel Mall was built in back in 1981 and flourished in it's early years. However, after several stagnant years, it was forced into foreclosure. Keane says the bank who had it's loan, bought it back. It's now being represented by Spinoso, a real estate group that specializes in revitalization projects.

The city and community seem confident that the renovation will be a collaborative effort with Spinoso.

Keane says city leader envision the space being developed to have other uses, besides retail. This could mean more open spaces, public squares, restaurants, offices and even hotels.

"It doesn't really work as an enclosed mall anymore," said Keane.

This might call for the reconfiguration of the buildings themselves, and Keane says they're also very mindful of the current trend in open-air malls.

"This is happening all over the country, these malls that are struggling that were built in the 70s, 80s and they don't work anymore," said Keane.

Keane says a majority of the current retail stores will stay put, because they individually own the property they sit on.

As for West Ashley residents' hopes for a Macy's? Might not be so good.

"I don't see any other big anchor retail getting to that location," said Keane.

It seems, for now, both parties have at least one common goal in mind.

"Citadel Mall has been kind of the center of West Ashley, traditionally, and it can be that again," said Keane.

"If we build it - they will come," said DeLoach.

Keane says this year will just consist of planning and market analysis. Then, they'll work to implement some of the changes. Keane says once they get a practical plan in place, it has the potential to be dramatically improved over a short period of time, maybe just two to three years.

If you want to learn more, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is hosting a public meeting next Wednesday, Feb. 26. It's from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Jason's Deli on Savannah Highway. City leaders will be present to discuss their plans for, not only revitalization of the Citadel Mall, but West Ashley overall.

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