CLARENCE, N.Y. — The glory days of the traditional shopping mall are far behind us, and that's been the case at the Eastern Hills Mall for years, with more and more tenants closing up shop.
But now the future of the property seems bright.
This week the mall's operator, Mountain Development Corp. announced a partnership with local developer Uniland.
The new co-ownership plans to transform the mall into a "lifestyle center.”
"Retail, restaurants, hotels, entertainment, multi-family housing, office, health and fitness, you name it. There are a lot of different uses that will fit well into this type of project," said Chuck Breidenbach, Mountain Development Corporation managing director.
The Town of Clarence had supported this idea for years in hopes of protecting one of the town's biggest taxable properties.
Last month, as Mountain Development searched for a dance partner to make the idea a reality, the town decided to be proactive.
It created a new zoning distinction that would allow for the development of a lifestyle center.
"We wanted to make sure we had the zoning in place so if Mountain Development wanted to move into a lifestyle center, everything would be in place which makes it easier to acquire partners and it makes it easier to acquire financing when they don't have to spend years researching rezoning the property," said Patrick Casilio, Clarence town supervisor.
With Uniland on board, the project can start to move forward with two to three years of feasibility studies and planning for what could be a $200 million investment.
Officials say the mall will continue to operate as normal until they are ready to break ground on the lifestyle center.