I was around when Grand Avenue opened in Downtown and enjoyed all of its early success. It was a magical place in the early going.
Then things began to fall apart for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was a fear of coming to Downtown Milwaukee.
Stores left and new ones came and then they left, too. Vacant shops became a real eyesore and the mall continued to try and reinvent itself.
I'm not an expert, but I always felt that Grand Avenue should be a place that had something that none of the other malls had. If you want to go to TJ Maxx or Borders or the old Linens 'n Things, there are plenty of places to go that are probably closer to where you live and have much easier parking.
I, along with lots of other people, mourned the death of the mall.
I was there the other day and I was stunned. The mall is not dead. It was amazing the amount of foot traffic I saw. Not senior citizen mall walkers but workers and shoppers. It wasn't jammed, but it was far from a graveyard.
I hope that the new plan to put those pop-up stores in the mall really works. Nothing would be better than to have a Downtown that offered boutique clothing, arts and crafts – local businesses that really have something unique to offer.
So I can be counted on as one of the hopeful, but also one of the converted who isn't going to go around bemoaning the death of the once-great mall. It just ain't dead.
The bar mall wouldn't work. Everyone coming out of the structure would just be another DUI.
As for Dave's comments the people you are seeing are people that work in and around the mall. Come lunch time the Federal Building employees trek down to the mezzanine and take the skywalk over to wander around and grab food. You may see people walking around but what you don't see is people itching to spend money at most of these places. That's why you are seeing them close time and time again.
People hang on to the idea of the mall as a shoppers destination but truth be told alot of shoppers are utilizing the internet to grab discounted items and taking advantage of the free shipping.
Maybe offer free parking? Why should anyone pay to park to visit the 5 stores in this mall? Let's be honest most of the traffic comes goes to Boston Store, Payless as it's near by, walgreens, office max and TJ MAXX. All the others are slowly packing up shop. Last month or two saw Bella fall and that near by hat store.
They should just offer steeply discounted rent to indie shops. Get rid of some of the common fast food options on the 3rd floor and give us some unique indie food joints. Otherwise all you are going to see is people not renewing their leases.
It is sad what happened to what once was a beautiful mall filled with decent people. I walked through it a few weeks ago during the day and was shocked at its defacement and purpose. I don't remember the last time I shopped there, maybe late 1980s or early 1990s. I got sick of being hassled for money so started driving out to Mayfair.
I thought for sure that Mr. Begal was going to blame racism for the fall of Grand Avenue. I never thought that was the issue for the mall because if people were that racist Mayfair wouldn't be as successful as they are. For a mall to be successful they have to offer a compelling reason to go there. For a time Grand Avenue had that. They had unique stores that no one else had and the mall thrived. As the mall lost some of its uniqueness people started to go to the easier options like Mayfair, Southridge, Bayshore etc. I think the other issue is that particular area of downtown just never really took off. Yes, there are some offices down there, but probably not enough to support a mall. There certainly is not enough residential to support a mall.
The only way to save The Grand Avenue is to get rid of the bus line.
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