Triangle shopping malls have big plans to stay relevant

As online shopping continues to take market share from brick-and-mortar stores and retail anchor stores close even in the vibrant Triangle market, some major retail centers are pondering their futures.

A few malls are hurting and their futures are questionable.

But a few are thriving despite the shifting sands of retail.

However, even some of them are considering what they can do to remain relevant. The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham has announced that it is considering changes and additions that might include even residential development.

Southpoint, a relatively young mall, has an expansive parking lot that might accommodate future options on keeping the retail center viable.

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That is not the case at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, which is landlocked.

But the marketing manager for Crabtree, Brian Asbill, said that is not keeping the mall from considering its future.

"We want to make sure that we're ahead of the curve. That we don't find ourself in the situation like maybe some of the other retail centers," Asbill told ABC11.

And one of the best options is the former Sears store at Crabtree.

When it closed, some, like Crabtree shopper Gina Griffin, saw it as bad news.

"It is scary to think that some of the bigger retail stores are closing," she said.

But Crabtree's owners see it as major opportunity to grow.

And since they can't grow out, they may grow up.

"As we sit today, we're zoned for 12 stories. So we can look at operating inside that zoning but we may also need to look at alternative plans and other things," Asbill said.

Asbill said everything is on the table -- including entertainment, outdoor space, offices, more dining, and even residential.

"I'm interested to see what they put there. Hopefully it's something that, you know, is going to keep the young crowd interested in coming to the mall," Tanautica Stevenson told ABC11.

She and her friend Courtney Chavis, both millennials, were shopping at Crabtree on Thursday, something they rarely do.

They said the malls have to do something to keep their business because they don't see brick-and-mortar shopping in their future.

"I see a lot more online shopping. If I do come to the mall it's for a quick grab," Chavis said.

Young mother Stephanie Farwell said she too does a lot of online shopping.

But Thursday, she decided to cruise the mall with her 3-year-old son in a stroller.

She's also interested in what will come of the old Sears store and had a couple of suggestions of her own.

"Child care would be a good draw. Other than that, maybe just something new and exciting that's different, that's family friendly," she said.

She and the rest of us will find out more about the changes at Crabtree this summer.

Asbill says the mall will lay out its plans in four to six months.
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