Waterford – The owners of the Crystal Mall will spend a year and $10 million renovating the property in hopes of drawing in more shoppers.
The Simon Property Group built the mall in 1984, but it hasn’t had significant improvements since it underwent a cosmetic upgrade in 1996, said Karen Tarantino, the mall manager.
The redesign “will transform the mall as you know it” and provide a “totally new shopping experience,” she said.
The renovation work, will feature new floor tiling, redesigned stairways and entrances using “timeless materials” like wood and stone, and widened ramps, said Laurel Sibert, vice president of marketing for Simon, and Nicolas A. Middleton, a partner for architectural design firm Cube 3 Studio of Lawrence, Mass.
About 200 construction jobs will be created in the region, they said.
Carpeting on the second level and areas where shoppers can rest and congregate on comfortable couches will induce shoppers to spend more time at the mall, Middleton added. Children’s play areas will be relocated, he said.
Neutral colors will make the mall’s five anchor stores and 125 specialty stores stand out, said Middleton. Energy efficient lighting will also be featured in the mall and its parking lots, he said.
Knowing the work could be disruptive, the contractor, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, plans to work at night and section off areas from shoppers where necessary, Tarantino said. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, work will be suspended.
The mall will keep customers informed through Facebook and Twitter, said Chris Bastien, director of marketing.
The food court will remain open during the redesign.
“We’re thrilled with the retail environment that comes with the Crystal Mall,” said First Selectman Dan Steward. “We want to see improvements. We always like that. It just makes us better.”
Steward and Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive officer for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, participated in a ceremonial “tile-breaking” in front of Bed, Bath & Beyond on the second level of the mall.
“I want to congratulate the mall,” said Sheridan. The renovation “is overdue. The amount of jobs that will be created is really necessary.”
Sheridan indicated the chandelier in the center of the mall that mall owners plan to remove is made from genuine Waterford Crystal and should be preserved, though Sibert said mall owners had it tested and found it wasn’t authentic.
Tarantino later said that mall owners would investigate further.
A new restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings, will open in the old Charley’s Restaurant spot this summer, adding about 100 jobs, Tarantino said.