CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) --Rumors are swirling about Swedish furniture store IKEA coming to Cary Towne Center.
The struggling mall is making its first push for revitalization following the loss of anchor department stores Sears and Macy's.
Mall owner CBL & Associates Properties told ABC11 it is seeking to rezone a quarter of Cary Towne Center's 60-acre property to allow for taller buildings, including the vacant Macy's and Sears buildings.
CBL would not confirm what would go in the space.
"We do not have a particular tenant or tenants lined up at this time," said Stacey Keating, CBL's director of public relations.
It is the first step in a multi-phase project that is expected to take 18 months pending permits and approvals from the Town of Cary.
"We are thrilled to move forward with this project. CBL is committed to Cary Towne Center and this redevelopment further solidifies our commitment to the property and the market," said Keating.
Malls across the country are having to rethink their strategies as spending habits change and the retail industry evolves.
An increase in online shopping and expanding big box stores are forcing many malls in the Triangle to adapt to the changing landscape.
"Older people like me don't want to battle traffic at malls, they don't want to battle the crowds. Also, younger millennials seem to be shopping in a different way. They want a more intimate form of shopping," said NC State economics professor Mike Walden.
Triangle Town Center in Raleigh and Northgate Mall in Durham have also lost stores and struggled to attract shoppers in recent years.
"Some malls are going to be torn down, but others are going to be refurbished," said Walden.
CBL said its goal for redevelopment is to bring more retail, dining and entertainment options to Cary Towne Center.
Town officials are staying tight-lipped about possible plans for an IKEA, but speculation is already bringing a renewed energy to a once bustling shopping center.
"I haven't talked to anybody who's not excited about something like that coming to Cary. An operation like that attracts people, it's a destination, so that would be definitely favorable," said Cary Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Barry Mitsch.
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