PROGRESS: Resurgence at Carson Mall
After seeing years of decline and ultimately the loss of its anchor store Gottschalks, the Carson Mall experienced a resurgence of vitality during the last half of 2009.
The opening of Paul Schat’s Bakery in mid-October was no doubt a contributing factor and remains one of the mall’s biggest success stories.
But Kevin Ray, property manager for the Carson Mall, said that great merchants are only half the story. The other half is having a great vision for the future, which the mall’s owner, Francis Carrington, has for his property that sits at the intersection of Carson and Stewart streets.
“It takes a person who is interested in Carson City to do this. Mr. Carrington realized it (the mall) was getting a little dated so he decided to create a village look,” Ray said.
One challenge, however, was figuring out how to draw people to the mall.
“To do that, we asked, ‘What do we all do every day?’ and the answer was that we eat. So, what we’re creating here is, first, a gathering place.. People still want to get out and socialize, so they go out to eat,” Ray said.
It started on the newly built east side of the mall with L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Charley’s Grilled Subs, and most recently, Paul Schat’s Bakery.
Doug and Jamesa Cramer also plan to open a new eatery, Paradise Cove Cafe, providing a tropical theme with waterfalls, thatched roofs and outdoor seating. They will offer seafood and pasta along with other traditional dinner fare, Ray said.
Other food establishments located on the mall property are Deli Francesco, Carl’s Jr., Dutch Bros. Coffee and Little Caesar’s Pizza.
But eateries are only part of the equation for reviving the Carson Mall – lots of shops and events make up the rest, and with nearly every shop filled, Ray said they are starting to see increased foot traffic in the mall every day.
Although Gottschalks was a great benefit, it isn’t always wise to rely on a big box store, he said.
“We can look at this as a great opportunity for smaller stores. Right now, we have a lot of interest from various-sized stores, and there are certain box stores that are looking at us, but they’re not locked in,” he said.
Ray continues to decline to name the stores investigating a presence in Carson City, but said that if it doesn’t happen, there are plenty of other ways to go.
“It gives us an opportunity to create more of the village atmosphere we have on the Stewart Street side,” he said.
A five-year, $12 million expansion to the mall involving 20 stores was announced in 2007, but representatives later said they would focus only on the first phase. Renovation to the east side of the mall was the first since it was built in 1964.
Ray said foot traffic is also being generated by mall events which invite people to come in to shop or relax.
“We’re hooking up wireless throughout and adding sofas to create seating areas,” Ray said.
“We are trying to make it so you can come here for a little bit of everything with lots of boutiques. We’re all about food and fun. You want to find the right people with the right energy,” Ray said.
He said he expects the momentum to continue into and through 2010.