A recent letter to the editor that spoke in favor of the Renaissance project stated that the downfall of Southbridge Mall was due to online shopping. However, that is only part of the story.
If we reflect back to 2000, we will see that the acceleration of tenants leaving can also be traced to the Indian Head project out west and specifically the Wal Mart super center. During that contentious time, petitions had been started by downtown businesses to stop the growth out west.
Southbridge Mall merchants and downtown association members asked for a moratorium on all projects until an impact study could be done. Planning and zoning again and again turned down the rezoning for the development project. Councilwoman Lori Henry vociferously cited the enormous job growth that the city would be losing if the project stalled. The City Council forged ahead by eliminating the supermajority rule and voting for the Indian Head project, in flagrant disregard of the comprehensive plan.
Fast forward to 2017, the mall is in shambles, and now the community is being asked in essence to save the mall by voting for the Renaissance Project. It is doubtful that any retail chain will return to the mall with the expansion out west that continues to proliferate.
It is a fantasy to think the ice arena will draw them back. If the Renaissance Project is turned down, it is not the end of building an ice arena nor repurposing of Southbridge Mall. Other alternatives, avenues and options can and will be discussed.
As a side note, to my knowledge, Lori Henry, Art Wolover and Lee Snell, who all served on the City Council and voted for the Super Wal Mart, have all left our community. The majority of us are still here dealing with the aftermath of their egregious action.
Phillip Sanchez, Mason City