University Mall, South Burlington look to the future

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Many people in our region are counting down the days until summer, but officials at the University Mall are ready for the fall. That's when two stores will open their first Vermont locations in South Burlington and many hope it brings new faces and new life to the mall.

"Things are changing in the retail world," said LuAnn Clarke of the University Mall.

The University Mall is doing what it can to keep up. A Target with a Starbucks and an H&M will open in October to help drive more people to the mall.

"Having like the H&M and Target is definitely just going to bring a lot more eyes to what's here already too," said Ruby Macdonald, who works at the mall.

Empty storefronts are an eyesore for guests and many wonder what's next for the mall.

A Massachusetts-based company took over in November after the mall went into foreclosure. The company has worked to score deals with big-names stores and help restructure the mall.

"We're trying to make the mall so it's inviting and it's current and up to date," Clarke said.

The food court only has four restaurants and Clarke says they plan to add more. Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret are relocating within the mall to the old FYE space.

"We're excited," Macdonald said. "It should bring a lot more traffic, a lot more young people."

The revitalization of the University Mall is just one part of the plans for South Burlington's new City Center.

"There is a lot of excitement in the community about City Center coming to fruition," South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn said.

It's a plan 30 years in the making. Dorn says reconstruction of Market Street will start this summer. Work is already underway on a 39-unit affordable senior housing complex. Dorn says a new park and combined City Hall and library are also in the works.

"This is going to be a very meaningful step to improving the overall community identity and quality of life," Dorn said.

Dorn hopes to have the City Hall-library financing on the ballot for November. He says work reinventing the city will be ongoing for the next 10 years, just as the mall works to reinvent itself to remain a relevant destination.