Mayor says the Wausau Center Mall has a bright future - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Mayor says the Wausau Center Mall has a bright future

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -- The Wausau Center Mall went into this holiday shopping season without one of its anchor stores. JC Penney left earlier this year and hasn't been replaced.

Despite the loss, city leaders say the mall is doing well.

"It is the anchor of downtown Wausau," explained James Tipple, the mayor of Wausau. "We're putting time and effort into making sure it's viable in the future."

But some shoppers say they want more from the Wausau Center Mall.

"When [the mall] first opened I think it was very, very popular," said Donna Kitchens from Rib Mountain. "I think they're struggling at times."

Some say they're forced to look elsewhere for some of the items on their shopping lists.

"I want to keep buying local but it's hard when they don't have the stores here," said Zach Tesch from Wausau.

City leaders hope to change that. They say they want to make the Wausau mall a travel destination.

"We're trying to repurpose the mall. We recently announced there will be a sporting goods store which is a good addition," explained Mayor Tipple.

Workers at CBL Properties, the company that manages the mall, say the future of the mall shouldn't be a concern.They say sales are expected to increase by 4 percent over the next year.

"While we can't talk about specific numbers for Wausau Center, our numbers are in line with the national average," said Amber Westerson, a marketing Director at CBL.

Shoppers and mall leaders still want to see a store in the vacant space where JC Penney used to be.

"We only have one vacant in line and we're excited to be almost 100 percent leased in the center," explained Westerson.

Managers say they are looking at several options to replace the JC Penney vacancy. No timetable has been released for when that might happen.

"We're hopeful that the space will be filled in the near future," said Tipple.

CBL announced the mall's Black Friday sales were up this year even though JC Penney closed and hasn't been replaced.

CBL workers say shoppers can expect several changes in 2015. They say the seasonal shops will be replaced with new stores such as Hibbett Sports.

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