Mega Malls - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mega Malls

Just about everywhere you look in Palm Beach County you will find new development. New homes, stores and streets. Many centered around large shopping areas or mega malls. So, which came first: the mega malls or the crowds? 10 o'Clock news reporter Tara Cardoso shows how the Mega Mall is changing our lifestyle and our landscape.

This was Wellington just ten years ago.... Residents were fighting the idea of a mega mall.

"This mall... This mega mega mall! The monolithic mall is a town within a town. 466 acres of commercial space! It's ridiculous!"

Fast forward to a few years later. The year 2000. Construction begins on the mall and everywhere around it.

"It's going to bring more development, probably along the state road 7 corridor." Probably? Well, that was then, and this is now. 2006, State Road 7 And the Mall at Wellington Green.

"The impact on Wellington, unbelievable! Just ask this longtime resident.

"When I heard the mall was coming, my life was complete."

Satellite Businesses have blossomed all around the mall, bringing jobs and tax revenue to Wellington.

Wellington Mayor: "This mall has exceeded everyone's expectations."

"I live across the street. I put him in the stroller and here we are."

In less than ten years, the Village of Wellington has doubled in size with fifty thousand full time residents today.

Palm Beach Gardens looked a a little something like Wellington before big development moved in.

In 1999 the MacArthur Foundation sold 14,000 acres of land, the county's largest land deal in its history. Back then, Residents knew things would change.

PBG Mayor, 2001: "Just like when a hurricane comes, you know its coming. So you prepare before it gets here."

That was then, this is now. The Gardens Mall is still going strong and now, right next door... The new Downtown at the Gardens is officially open. Many residents in the Gardens say its what their city was missing.

"It's one thing to look for places to go with kids, but to have one place to go and do everything as a family you can't beat it."

But does in with the new mean out with the old? Just a few minutes away Abacoa's Crown Movie Theatres just pulled its last curtain after only being opened for a few years. Nearby competition is partly to blame. The affect?

"You're losing one of your major amenities. Even when they're selling homes they talk about it."

Surrounding businesses know things will be different.

"Certainly when you lose a big people generator like that, it's certainly going to have an impact on food business."

Also, across the street from the Downtown at the Gardens, the Loheman's Plaza looks like a ghost town. Several of the anchor shops are leaving, even Loheman's itself. Too Jay's relocated to the new Downtown at the Gardens, taking all of its regulars with it.

"The foot traffic is definitely slower, but this plaza's not giving up."

"I've talked to other tenants and they say they're sticking it out. They're staying."

The International Council of Shopping Centers says there is no average life span for a shopping area. That depends on how well it adapts to the needs around it. But too many mega malls too close means too much of a good thing for some.

"I think it's a waste of money."

Since Abacoa and Cityplace have already seen their share of struggles some say Downtown at the Gardens is doomed.

"You get big crowds on the weekend but during the week its dead. The same thing will happen here. It'll be very busy for a while then it'll go dead."

For Wellington the mall changed everything. For Palm Beach Gardens everything may be about to change.

Tara Cardoso, Fox 29.

The downtown at the Gardens is only partially open right now. The rest of the stores and shop are expected to be operational by summer.

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