SIOUX FALLS, SD -
You might be surprised that in its 37 years, the state's top tourist attraction has never been completely remodeled. That's about to change.
Take a look around the Empire Mall and you might think the gold trim and some of the other surroundings are showing their age.
"When I pulled up today I noticed it was a cream color and that makes it seem like it kind of old," shopper Alecia Bingham said.
The mall's owners and managers agree.
"It will be an entirely new experience for our customers. They're going to walk on different surfaces, they're going to see different visuals in the area, they'll sit on different soft seating areas and it's going to be such a pleasant experience that they'll want to come back again and again," Empire Mall General Manager Dennis Gilliam said.
The renovation will begin once the holiday shopping season wraps up and the goal is to have all the work done by November 2013. The mall will remain open throughout the renovation with much of the work happening at night.
One of the notable changes will be in the food court area where not only will the seating change, but they'll also add an aisle down the middle. That way, those walking into the mall won't have to be funneled into the lines at the food stands.
Even the outside will get an update. Those behind the work say this will essentially become a brand new mall.
"Yeah, it is exciting. There can be some new stores come in, that would be nice. It's exciting, I think," Bingham said.
The mall's management says news stores are likely, but that's not the mission of this long-overdue renovation.
"It's been added onto a few times, and the latest addition was 1985. The food court was added on in 2000 but it was just the food court area," Gilliam said.
This time the entire mall will benefit and eventually so could the city's tax dollars.
The Empire Mall's owner group is not disclosing the estimated cost of the work.
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