It was one of those “coming soon” signs that generated a good bit of excitement when it first went up but as time passed and nothing came, it turned into a punch line. As still more time passed with nothing “coming” the sign was simply ignored.
Originally, according to the sign, it was going to be a “regional power center and retail hub”. Then it was going to be a “regional lifestyle center”. Once you got past all the hype and slowed down all the spin, it was a mall and to a lot of folks, that meant we had arrived.
Some imagined a variety of stores offering the latest fashion. Others imagined it would be more of an outlet center. Some envisioned a place for hanging out with friends. Others thought it would be built quickly, opened quickly and welcoming those yearning to part with their cash.
Well, not so fast...
The land around the sign sat undeveloped for years. It got to the point that some believed the only thing that would be built was the sign saying something was going to be built. But then, lo-and-behold, construction of the big-box-home-center store started right across the street from the coming–soon sign. Many were convinced that this was the start of “our mall”.
No such luck. Big-box opened. Nothing else happened.
Behind the scenes, design work had been done and submitted to the county for building code compliance and zoning approvals. There were the usual changes required. Then there was an annexation of the land by the city and all of the compliance work had to be redone. More changes. More delay.
Finally and as unceremoniously as possible, the construction started. Steel was going up. Cinder blocks were becoming walls. Door frames were being installed. Pipe was being laid.
The one thing that was absolutely clear was that this was not the enclosed mall some had hoped for. Enclosed malls were just too expensive. Too expensive to build. Too expensive to heat. Too expensive to cool. Too expensive to maintain.
“Our mall” looked more like an assembly of mid-sized strip centers with one big building on the south end and one on the north. The strip centers were between the big stores. Two more big buildings were kind of between the two that were on the ends. One was a theater.
The building continued. Stores opened.