Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2013, 9:02 pm

Moline leaders to tour Des Moines mall in quest to improve SouthPark

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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

MOLINE -- Civic leaders hoping to see new luster added to SouthPark Mall will tour a Des Moines mall of similar age that has been redeveloped.

The SouthPark Mall Task Force will visit Southridge Mall in Des Moines on Thursday. Like SouthPark, Southridge is owned by Macerich Co.

The task force, formed two years ago, includes Moline city staff, Quad Cities Chamber leaders and private sector business leaders.

Paul Rumler, Quad Cities Chamber executive vice president, coordinated the site visit. He said both malls are more than 30 years old. Macerich redeveloped Southridge to infuse new life in the property, and it now features a mix of retail, education, residential and recreational uses, he said.

"Our goal in going to Des Moines is to look at some of Macerich's 's best practices," he said. "We have been getting to know the organization and they have been studying the Quad-Cities to see the mall's potential for redevelopment."

The Southridge redevelopment included tearing down some of the mall to expose more retail storefronts. Mr. Rumler said Macerich was able to recreate the Des Moines mall into a community gathering place.

SouthPark is one of the leading sales tax generators in the Quad-Cities and the top sales tax generator in the Illinois Quad-Cities, Mr. Rumler said, adding it is well known the mall is a depreciating asset.

SouthPark's equalized assessed value -- on which property taxes are paid -- has dropped the past five years and Macerich is appealing its most recent assessment, asking it be lowered.

Mr. Rumler said SouthPark's location off Interstate 74 and John Deere Road is one of the most visible intersections in the area. The mall also is on the busiest thoroughfare in the Quad-Cities. He said the task force wants the mall to be successful and, after visitingSouthridge, members will work with Macerich on a redevelopment strategy.

Moline is experiencing great success and the community is growing, Mr. Rumler said. "Our overall goal is to breathe new life into SouthPark Mall."