Rendering courtesy GGP.
1012 Galleria Makeover
A rendering of the Galleria as it is slated to appear following more than $60 million in renovation.
Renovations costing more than $60 million are currently underway at the Riverchase Galleria as owners seek to entice new customers for the 2012 holiday shopping season.
Officials at Birmingham-based Hoar Construction, the company responsible for the project, said the top priority is to complete substantive parking deck renovations and interior remodeling projects before the day after Thanksgiving – or Black Friday as it’s known in the retail world.
“The schedule and phasing for the project was developed with the shopper in mind in order to minimize disruption to the overall shopping experience,” said Mark Hendricks, vice president of Hoar Construction’s Alabama division.
During the initial phase, which began in September, construction teams are remodeling the center court public restrooms and the mall’s parking deck. And this month, construction began on a major aspect of the remodel— new elevators in the mall’s center court. Hendricks said the existing elevators would remain operational until the new elevators are completely installed, and then demolition andremoval of the old elevators will take place.
“The public will always have operational elevators through the entire renovation process,” Hendricks said. “There will be no interruption of public use.”
With public restroom renovations on schedule for completion prior to the holiday shopping season, Hendricks said upgrades and touch-ups to the mall entrances would be completed in 2013 to minimize interruption during upcoming peak shopping months. As much work as possible will be completed at night, but for daytime construction, project crews have created efficient detour routes for mall patrons.
“These renovations are critical to the success of the Riverchase Galleria,” said area resident Kari Parker, who lives off South Shades Crest Road. “There are so many other options in the Birmingham area, but I would still prefer to shop 10 minutes from my home.”
That attitude is the driving force behind the remodel. Riverchase Galleria co-owners General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based real estate investment trust, and Jim Wilson & Associates of Montgomery, intend for the renovations to bring the mall to a state of excitement it hasn’t seen since it was built in 1986.
Christopher White, marketing manager of Riverchase Galleria, said executives expect the redevelopment could have an approximate $100 million impact on the local economy – more than any current mall redevelopment he knows of in the entire country. However, new stores scheduled to open this fall are another reason the mall will attract more customers.
“Anytime you have a redevelopment of this magnitude,” he said, “higher-end retailers are usually very interested in looking at your property.”
In the near term, White said new stores including Von Maur, Jared’s – The Galleria of Jewelry, Pandora and Destination Maternity will be added to the shopping lineup.
Von Maur, scheduled to open next year in the former Macy’s location, is an Iowa-based upscale specialty department store. Currently operating 27 locations across 11 states, Von Maur’s Riverchase Galleria store will be its first in Alabama. Hallmarks of Von Maur stores include interest-free credit, free gift wrapping and shipping and live piano music during shopping hours.
Riverchase Galleria is co-owned by General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based real estate investment trust, and Jim Wilson & Associates of Montgomery.
“Hoar Construction is very excited about being a part of the renovation of the Riverchase Galleria and about undertaking another project with General Growth Properties, one of our best clients,” Hendricks said. “It’s exciting to be able to take part in a project that is of interest to the community and also at a location where our families actually shop and spend time.”