FLINT TWP. — More community involvement, some news stores and the possible relocation of the food court are all part of Genesee Valley Center’s plans for 2019.
Cindy Frohriep, marketing manager for Genesee Valley Center, spoke to the West Flint Business Association, Jan. 17 and talked about changes in store for the mall in the coming year.
The biggest change expected is a plan to move the food court from the second floor of Genesee Valley Center back down to the main floor of the mall.
“We’re excited,” said Frohriep. “That’s a big deal and a major change for the mall.”
The food court has been on the upper level of the mall for approximately 30 years, she said. Moving the tenants back to the main floor won’t be an easy task, but GVC management is working on a plan and is in the process of speaking with the food court tenants.
Frohriep said GVC hasn’t decided yet what it will do with the open second floor space once the move is done.
Also planned for 2019 is more community involvement by the mall, including more emphasis on the summer concert series and events like Halloween and Christmas.
From June to August the mall will again hold its summer concert series on Thursday evenings in the Outdoor Village area by Barnes & Noble.
“The concerts drew about 550 people each week,” said Frohriep. “It was a blast. We had a lot of positive feedback.”
She said the concert series was a great addition for GVC and this year they will expand to 12 Thursdays in all, with the possible addition of food trucks at the venue. The concerts are free, and the genres of music vary from week-to-week.
Frohriep said sales were up at all the restaurants located in the mall, especially around the Outdoor Village. Food tenants from inside the mall can set up stations at the concert venue so they can sell their food and beverages.
The mall will continue with successful events from 2018 like the Halloween trick or treat and outdoor trunk or treat. Both the Halloween and Christmas events were part of a community partnership between GVC and Flint Township.
Last year, Frohriep said the Halloween event drew an estimated 6,000 people to the mall.
“It was our biggest year ever,” she said.
Frohriep said she can’t confirm any new tenants coming to the mall, and has no new information on Wahlburgers, nor what’s happening with the space vacated by Sears. But she did say the mall will be working on improvements to its parking lot – both to resurfacing it and installing LED lights.
From a sales standpoint, Frohriep said things are good at Genesee Valley Center.
“We had a great year,” she said. “We had 10 stores up over 30 percent, and one that was up 47.8 percent. We keep hearing about the death of retail, that Amazon is taking over. We’re a long way from malls shutting down.”
When stores combine their brick and mortar sales with online, Frohriep said it means even better sales numbers and with in-store delivery at many outlets, it brings in people who come to pick up the item they ordered online, and while they’re at the mall they shop.
Frohriep said while the mall did lose a couple major tenants with the departures of Sears and Burlington, there was a lot of growth for some of the other stores in the mall.
Macy’s invested $500,000 in improvements to its store last year, JC Penney did a remodel of its second floor and Forever 21 moved and doubled its square footage in the mall.
“We keep hearing how bad it is,” she said. “But we’re just not getting the memo.”