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Shoppers eager to see finished Town Center renovations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Town Center continues to be not just a shopping center, but also a construction zone.

"I really like what I've seen so far," said Donna Nicholas, 56, a resident of Lenore, Mingo County. "And I think the Center Court will be beautiful once they finish."

Nicholas is excited to see how the renovations will turn out. She comes to the mall at least once a month to shop and allow her children to hang out.

Her daughter Megan, 16, is also eager to see the renovations completed.

"I love it," Megan said.

The renovations are impossible to miss.

Center Court is undergoing a significant facelift. The old fountain has been removed and a smaller fountain will soon be up and running, said Lisa McCracken, mall marketing director.

The concrete for the new fountain, which is much smaller than the old, has been poured. It will take about a week to cure, and construction workers then will resume work around it.

"It's really exciting," McCracken said.

The new fountain's smaller size will mean more seating can be added to the Center Court area around Starbucks, she said. The fountain should be turned on sometime in late November or early December, McCracken said.

Thurman Brewer, 75, of Kermit, also in Mingo County, also thinks the renovations will be worth the wait.

"It's going to be nice once it's finished," he said.

Brewer comes to the mall about once a month, he said.

James Taylor, 67, of St. Albans, often walks the mall corridors when the weather is too bad for him to exercise outside. The construction work has been no deterrent. 

"It (construction) doesn't bother me in the least," he said.

Taylor, who was an electrician, said he worked on the mall when it was being built 29 years ago.   

McCracken said complaints from customers about the construction are few.

Mall staff members clean up dust and debris before opening for business at 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.

"We've worked hard to keep the customers out of the shopping center in the early-morning hours as the cleaning crews come in and take care of the dust," McCracken said.

Construction crews are grinding the floors smooth to make way for the new surfaces being placed in the mall's corridors. This grinding obviously creates dust, she said.

Some businesses have been provided with dust shields, McCracken said.

The dust did cause Starbucks to close for about a week, but it has reopened. 

Nobody has complained about dust at the mall to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said Anita Ray, the department's environmental services director.

Ray said mall establishments are inspected three or four times a year.

"We haven't had any problems that I've heard about," she said.

McCracken said the grinding should be completed in a few days and the dust issue should be moot.

"There'll still be some minor grinding in some pocket areas, but the worst is behind us," she said.

The floors on the entire first and third levels are receiving new tile. The floor on the second level will be covered with carpet panels. 

The carpet panels can be removed for cleaning or replacement, McCracken said. Workers should begin installing the carpet next week.

"Not only do the carpet tiles act as a sound reducer, they also are more comfortable and add more color," McCracken said. "They really work well in the area where we have most of our popular apparel retailers."

A few shoppers have complained about closure of the second-floor public restrooms. Those facilities also have undergone extensive renovation and should be reopened next week.

The restrooms on the third level in the food court will be closed when the ones on the second level are opened. The renovations to the third-level restrooms should be completed in about three weeks, McCracken said.   

New directional signage should be installed next month, McCracken said.

The renovations should be completed sometime in November, she said. That will be just in time for the mall's 30th birthday celebration, which will be a yearlong event.

"We'll do our ribbon cutting on the renovations and kick off our yearlong birthday celebration at the same time," McCracken said.

The fountain will be turned on to celebrate the ribbon cutting and beginning of the birthday celebration.   

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon. 

 


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