MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Renovations at Inlet Square Mall are complete, according to an announcement made Tuesday by management.
The improvement project stopped abruptly in 2007, leaving many of the planned upgrades unfinished. Work to complete the renovation began again in March of this year.
In the meantime, several tenants moved out, leaving vacant store spaces throughout the mall. In March 2009, mall owner Inlet Retail Associates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and in September, Murrells Retail Associates became the new owner.
"The south end needs a shopping center - a place where people can gather and entertain and shop - and this could be it," Mary Margaret Williams at the Socialite clothing boutique commented.
The store is just around the corner from Inlet Square Mall. Williams, who runs the store with her sister Rachel Shaw, said they're excited the mall renovation is finally finished. They hope it will attract more customers to the mall and their store too.
At the nearby Fancy Frocks store, the hope is the same.
"We're very excited," store owner Paula Farish said. "We hope it brings a lot more traffic our way."
Farish opened her store earlier this year with expectations that the mall would be revived. With that revival, she expects the entire area will benefit.
"I think that [the mall] brings a lot of business to the area, and it was a vital mall at one time," Farish explained. "There's no reason, now our population has only grown, why it can't be a vital mall again."
Mall manager Heather Gray said the completed renovation is a noticeable update from the mall's previous appearance. She said it is a sign the new owners are serious about making progress.
"The renovation means this will potentially attract new tenants and new shoppers," Gray said.
Potential tenants have been calling more often lately Gray said. A clothing store called 20 Below will open this fall she said, and another store plans to make an announcement about locating in the mall on Saturday.
That announcement will come during the mall's grand re-opening from noon to 6 p.m. Although the mall never closed, Gray is planning the event to celebrate the renovation.
A new movie theater is also remodeling an old movie theater space at the mall. The Frank Theater will likely open later this year. Attracting new tenants like the theater and other stores is something Williams said will be the key to success for the mall and the area.
"Until they really do that I don't think they'll see the generating of customers that they hope," Williams said. "If you really target and market it well I think it could be an awesome location."