Due to changes in demographics and shopping habits, the American landscape is littered with dead malls. The Ponce de Leon Mall in St. Augustine, Florida, has closed the mall common areas and only its anchors with their own entrances have stayed open. One of those spaces is rented to a non-denominational church. Now the mall’s owner has offered the church the opportunity to buy the entire mall, and they’re raising money to make the down payment.
The mall would serve as a retail business incubator as well as giving the church more room to expand. The church’s plan is to rent retail spaces to local businesses, but with the goal of helping the community instead of raking in profits immediately.
“We’re going to give them time to get their business up and running. It gives them the chance to grow,” the church’s pastor told the St. Augustine Record.
The closing of interior spaces in the mall is the subject of a lawsuit between the former owner of the Sears Hometown store and the current mall owners, since she accuses the owners of effectively shutting down the mall, hurting her business.
Sears Outlet and Hometown, the company spun off from Sears to run these franchised stores, took control of the store back. If the church can raise the remaining $738,000 by September, it might have a church as a landlord soon.
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