Some optimistic about future of Knoxville Center Mall despite store closures

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – If you’ve lived in Knoxville for more than a decade, you likely remember the words “packed,” “busy,” or “booming” used to describe traffic and business at the Knoxville Center Mall.

That has changed drastically for the mall over the last few years.

In fact, we told you over the weekend Belk announced it was leaving the mall in November. We have since learned Signature Diamonds Galleria is closing its doors Sunday.

We also confirmed with the Knox County Trustee’s Office the owners of the mall, Knoxville Partners, LLC, owe $108,000 in taxes from 2018. Nearly $9,000 of that is accrued penalties and interest, which began March 1.

While many fear Belk closing is the end of the Knoxville Center Mall, Justin Cazana, a principal with Avison Young, the company that manages the property, said Monday he’s optimistic about the mall’s future, adding the mall is “far from being done.”

He said there is a project in the works surrounding the mall.

Cazana couldn’t say Tuesday whether their plans involve restoring the mall to the way it was, or repurposing the property for other commercial uses.

“We feel good about what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time.”

If you step inside the mall today, you’ll notice the amount of closed doors far exceed the amount of stores open for business. Including the two set to close, there are fewer than 20.

Billy and Barbara Daniel hope the plans bear fruit and come quickly. The two, who have lived in Knoxville for 24 years, remember the mall bustling with traffic and families coming to shop and grab a bite.

While the two don’t know the exact reason for the decline, they believe it began around 10 years ago.

“People just didn’t want to shop here anymore,” Barbara said.

While they’ve made many fond memories over the years, the two don’t go there anymore, unless they have to.

“We go to a eye doctor here. Otherwise we’d never come into this mall. Really, the eye doctor is so far away, it’s hard for us to even walk to it,” Barbara added. “At our age, it’s a lot further to travel to West Town Mall. We need this mall on the east side of Knoxville. The population is here. I’m sure there’s enough money to support it here,” Billy said.

They remember it being a “wonderful” place with people and kids running around, especially at Christmas.

“You could sit and enjoy the mothers just pushing their little ones around in a stroller and watching them laugh and play…it was just a wonderful sight to see all that,” Billy said.

The two hope more memories can be made at the Knoxville Center Mall soon.

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