Communication Builds Our Community

Eagle Ridge Mall On Upswing, Manager Tells Gathered Chamber Members

An upbeat message of economic progress was shared with more than 100 area business leaders during a Business After Hours event at the Eagle Ridge Mall Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Lake Wales and Winter Haven Chambers of Commerce.

Robert Connors

Eagle Ridge Mall General Manager Curtis Gibson, right, was joined by Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Skip Alford in presenting during the Business After Hours event held Tuesday evening at the mall.

Eagle Ridge Mall General Manager Curtis Gibson told the gathering that the mall "belongs" to the people of the Ridge, from Frostproof to Winter Haven, and touted the expansion of business that has been happening there. When he took over management shortly after the Covid pandemic there were only about 40 businesses still operating in the 624,000 square-foot mall after the closure of both the Sears and JC Penney stores there. Now, Gibson reported, there are more than 70 business located in the mall, even though those two large anchor spaces remain vacant.

Chamber members and guests were treated to free samples of food from many of the restaurants operating in the food court of the mall as well as live musical entertainment.

Robert Connors

More than 100 business owners and chamber members from Lake Wales and Winter Haven gathered for the joint "after hours" event, held in the food court at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales Tuesday evening.

The mall has suffered a series of challenges since it was constructed in 1995. In 1998 a sinkhole caused serious damage to the Sears store, other retail stores, and part of the concourse. Repairs took many tons of concrete slurry and more than a year to complete. Hurricanes in 2004, a serious recession in 2008 through 20011, and the Covid pandemic also took their toll on the mall.

Mall management is reportedly aggressively marketing the property to attract new anchor tenants, an effort reinforced by the rapid growth of housing in the area. Gibson told the audience that the mall now covers tenant's electric and water utilities under the lease, among other incentives.

Businesses reopened since the pandemic include the Regal 12 Cinema and the Lake Wales Bowl, with its Strikes Bar and Grill. Planned to open soon is El Pilón Loko, a Puerto Rican restaurant which will occupy a large space adjacent to the food court. A new pizza outlet is also expected to open in the food court this summer. Other stores are in the works, according to Gibson, but not ready for formal announcements yet.

 
 

Reader Comments(1)

SallyMae writes:

It would be great if the mall continues healthy growth. Thanks for keeping us up to date on the progress.

 
 
 
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