Mall modifications

(Originally published in the Telegraph on 5/28/08)

ALTON - Pardon their dust, but mall entrance demolition is under way at Alton Square.

Lori Ehlers, mall manager for three years, said Alton Square is replacing the signs and trusses framing three main doorways. The new framework will hold curved metal canopies over the sidewalks.

The goal of the construction is to "really make the entrances stick out," Ehlers said. She said the changes will "renovate and rejuvenate the mall," "make it look current" and "create a more inviting environment."

Coyote Management LP of Addison, Texas, bought Alton Square from Simon Property Group of Indianapolis in August 2007 and now aims to lure new vendors to open stores in the mall.

"A lot of retailers want us to update the mall before they join the lineup here," Ehlers said. "It's kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. This will show the retailers that Coyote is investing in the mall and obviously believes in it, so then they'll jump on board."

Areas set to undergo demolition and renovation include the upper-level entrance near Savvi Formalwear, the lower-level main entrance near the post office and the food court entrance.

Construction workers already have torn down the old sign and framework at the Savvi entrance.

"That was the first one," Ehlers said. "We've done the demolition work and the framing work, and it's open, but it's not done."

Work has begun at the main entrance. As of Tuesday, the crew was almost finished with demolition at this second site. Constructing the new framework, which takes approximately two days, will probably begin next week, Ehlers said. The front entrance will be closed and barricaded every weekday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. while crews work on it.

"All of this is overhead work, and we don't want people walking underneath, because they're tearing things down," Ehlers said.

Shoppers are welcome to use the front entrance after construction hours and during weekends.

Demolition near the food court will commence after crews build the front entrance frame.

"The whole plan is to go from one entrance to another," Ehlers said. "We're trying to avoid shutting down more than one entrance at a time. From time to time, we might have to do that, because we have different companies doing different things. We've got one company that's doing the demolition and the framing, and another doing the welding."

The end date of mall construction is not yet clear.