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The Daily Tar Heel

U-turn for U-Mall: Developers should pay attention to student market in making University Mall an attractive option

Students should be excited that University Mall is about to be renovated.

It’s the ideal candidate for the massive mall makeover it’s slated to receive.

In 2007, University Mall was bought for $40 million by Madison Marquette Realty Services, a Washington, D.C.-based developer that specializes in finding neglected malls in great locations.

University Mall definitely fits the description.

There is certainly a good core at the mall — the Spice Street restaurant and the nationally recognized gourmet retailer A Southern Season, among a few others.

However, many of University Mall’s smaller, local stores are simply not generating the amount of revenue they need to stay afloat.

Now that the project is underway, the new developers would be wise to remember that students and their families could potentially be a big market.

The new owners intend to renovate everything from the inside out. They anticipate new, hip stores and a modernized, updated décor in time for the holiday season.

Interior renovations will brighten the mall, add more seating in center court and allow more arts and cultural events to be hosted there in the future.

This is a great opportunity for local art and theatre groups to draw attention to themselves and their work.

These are all positive steps.

Though, as the firm says, University Mall won’t be the next Streets at Southpoint.

And it shouldn’t be.

University Mall’s location is ideal for the UNC community. It’s just a few minutes from campus by bus.

So it’s a more convenient option and should feature its own selection of stores that can appeal to, among others, the student population.

The mall would make a killing if potential tenants like The North Face and American Apparel successfully made it onto the store menu. Both retailers have large market appeal with University students.

There’s no denying that these new renovations could make University Mall a shopping destination — especially for UNC students.

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