Residents, city leaders discuss Montgomery Mall

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Residents who live near the old Montgomery Mall are demanding answers about the future of the vacant complex.

At a meeting at Bear Elementary Monday night, Montgomery' deputy mayor offered a status report, and he didn't sugar coat his message.

"The city is here to help, but the city cannot solve all of the problems," Jeff Downes told the crowd.

When it comes to site of the mall, city leaders are playing the waiting game, hoping the property makes the finalist's list for a outpatient clinic run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"We're very hopeful, but we have no way of knowing whether the mall site has made that short list or not," Downes said.

Homeowners brought a laundry list of questions.  All of them wanted to know how to bring back their neighborhood and how long it would take.

"Are we looking at the mall still being stale for another five years if it doesn't get the VA?" asked one woman.

"I cant answer your question. I really don't know," Downes replied.

While the city works to offer incentives to developers interested in the site, residents reminded leaders of the economic blow that has lingered since the mall shut down.

"It was awful because we needed the retail.  We needed to keep the structure there," Dorothy Casey said.

With new plans on the table, homeowners hope for a speedy solution.

"With the holidays approaching, we realize how blighted our community is. And we're anchored by Walmart. If Walmart pulls out, we're in trouble. So it was like, if not now, when?" asked Regina Walker with Gay Meadows Homeowner's Association.

Residents also wanted to know about the rest of the property.

Right now, Deputy Mayor Downes says the pressure is on the private sector and owners to make something happen.

Still, he says the city is in the design phase of building a police and fire substation on the site.  Downes says once that phase is over, the facility could be constructed within a year.

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