Readers respond: How do you save a mall? Make it less like a mall

Published: 5/20/2018 12:19:56 AM

Last week, asked people what they would like to see come to the Steeplegate Mall. Here are some of the more “outside of the box” ideas:

Paul Ambrose of New London: Amazon, the Tilton mall and other online stores have ended the era of the Steeplegate Mall. Possible solutions include conversion to condominiums, business office and professional medical/dental offices, a defined indoor walking course, a fitness center, a center for entrepreneurship and an academic center for various colleges. Vape stores, bouncy houses and other teenage activities signal desperation and accelerate economic collapse. The mall cannot compete in retail. More creative and sustainable uses are essential before it becomes a beautiful empty facility in foreclosure.

Karl Gerhard of Pembroke: Senior center indoor community – add a residential wing, an assisted-care wing, a health care institution, pharmacy. Then basically fill the remainder with amenities – groceries, clothing, restaurants, theater (live and movies), library, indoor golf simulator, etc. With a rapidly aging population, this would seem to be a good fit with a need. It could be partially funded by resident fees and merchant tenants.

Sherry Bradstreet of Hopkinton: Entities that would attract people for non-shopping and then, just by being there, would get them to shop. For example a child day care center, gym (as there is plenty of parking), a doctor’s office or walk-in clinic, a restaurant or two, high-end upscale stores as there are none in the local area, old-school arcade. A vet clinic for animals. A day care center for adults, as there is plenty of space for indoor walking. Tax preparer at tax time.

Ric Werme of Boscawen: I think medical services are too concentrated around the hospital area and people should look elsewhere for a second medical complex area. It should be on the east side of the city, some place that has a lot of parking and commercial development to avoid conflict with area residents. Preferably it would be an area that’s currently under-utilized. The mall fits all of those, and if they gain a trampoline park, having medical services just a gurney ride away could be a feature!

Marie Daniello of Candia: When visiting Florida last year my daughter took me to an old mall that was rehabbed into a flea market. I loved it! The walls of the individual stores and store fronts were removed and individual vendors rented spaces (booths). There was everything from vintage and antique vendors, to new goods. The food court was thriving and that place was hopping! What a fun way to make use of an old, dead mall. Climate controlled shopping is preferable to me.

Stephen Arling of Epsom: Science and educational facility, similar to the Children’s Museum in Dover, where kids, families and adults can learn, explore, participate in activities, etc. Construct an aquarium and fountains with terrariums and teach people about New Hampshire’s environment, the world we live in and the importance of conservation and preservation. Possibly provide local educators with increased options of additional/supplemental employment. Maybe even partner up with N.H. Fish and Game, N.H. Forest and Lands, N.H. Farmers, etc. The building could also be used as a farmer’s market. Downtown Concord gets too crowded with traffic. The mall has substantial parking that isn’t metered and has plenty of access/entry/exit points. Another idea would be to convert the mall into an indoor, aquaponics/hydroponics facility that could provide local communities with fresh produce and fish. Power it all by solar. The mall has plenty of roof real estate for solar panels. Make it completely self sustaining. Maine has a 44-acre, indoor hydroponic tomato farm. Why couldn’t the mall do something similar? People need to think out of the box, less we get another typical humdrum mall full of stores where no one shops.

Carissa Corrow of Penacook: Business incubator space for start-ups, rentable meeting spaces for companies without offices and remote employees, education space for charter school or university, space for those serving adult learners, creative space for creating music, videos, photography, art, children’s museum, art gallery.

Trista Graziano of Penacook: I’ve lived in Penacook for more than two years and just went into Steeplegate Mall for the first time this spring to return a purchase from the Mall of New Hampshire. It reminds me of Pembroke Mall in my hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., which was revived by bringing in a Kohl’s, Target and a nearby hotel/apartment/dining complex. Concord lacks hotel options, and bringing one that close to the speedway would be a smart move.

Holly Tabor-Hall of Andover: I believe that the state could make it into a mental health, rehabilitation center where there could be a residential side for short stays and an area for a more extensive stay (i.e.: 30-90 days or more depending on the diagnosis) the additional areas could be used as some convenient stores selling essentials the people would need while in rehab. There could be other therapeutic facilities like yoga, acupuncture etc. There could be groups, doctors offices, psychiatrists and a whole range of supports to help people with mental health and or substance abuse problems.

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