Local News

Professor: More shopping centers likely to go way of abandoned Wilson Mall

Posted May 2

— An old mall in Wilson is home to a lot of memories for area residents, but in the four years since it closed, it has become a 50-acre dead zone in the neighborhood.

When the Wilson Mall closed in 2013, the owner said the enclosed mall format wasn’t sustainable in the small city crawling back from the Great Recession.

Hull Property Group in Augusta, Georgia owns the property, which has become a hotspot for vandals and trespassers. Last year, the company had a proposal to redevelop the land into a medical park with apartments, but it has not moved forward.

“I think they’ve realized it’s not a retail property,” said Wilson Planning Director Rodger Lentz.

Lentz said the company has told him they are still interested in redeveloping the property.

“There’s an opportunity there, but there’s a challenge up front because you have to figure out what the marketplace can do with 50 acres at this location,” he said.

Hull Property Group did not respond to a request for comment.

North Carolina State University professor Lewis Sheats said people can expect more scenes like the one in Wilson in the near future, as the shopping mall concept dies out.

“Millennials are looking for a different way to shop. They’re more trustworthy, so they’re willing to order online. They want a different experience when shopping,” Sheats said.

Wilson Chamber of Commerce president Ryan Simons hopes that different experience might include a return to locally owned businesses. He said despite the city’s dead mall, business is looking up and Wilson’s economy is recovering.

“In spite of some of the challenges that are in our way, including properties that are underutilized, I think people are encouraged about what’s to come,” Simons said.

2 Comments

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  • New Holland May 3, 11:12 a.m.
    user avatar

    I'm all for having developers put a deposit in a city/county fund to allow them to put the land into some public use. There's not much worse than seeing an empty strip mall that looks like a junk heap.

  • George Brown May 3, 8:51 a.m.
    user avatar

    Self-fulfilling prophecies, paranoia, and phobia. Nonsense.