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The Jackson Square shopping center that has struggled with crime and vacancy for years is showing signs of life. The South Jackson retail mall at Terry Road and Interstate 55, renamed the Jackson Square Outlet Mall, is getting a facelift and actively pursuing new tenants, but the property’s new owner believes community support is essential to the project’s success. California-based developer Jessie Wright purchased the 34-acre property in February. He said that the property is structurally sound but has suffered from neglect and mismanagement, and rising crime and blight in the surrounding area.

“It has a tremendous potential that no one has been able to see,” Wright said. “It’s been vacant for years and years. Everybody’s consensus was that to make the mall successful they need to demo(lish) it. … I basically saw the opportunity to revamp it and rebirth it. So now this baby is slowly getting up on its feet.”

Wright’s firm, First Boise Investments, also owns shopping centers in Southaven, and Birmingham, Ala. Renovations on the mall focuses on fixing exterior lighting and erecting new signs. Wright said that repaving and landscaping for the center’s parking lot should be finished in two weeks.

Wright wants to host a command center for a neighborhood watch in the shopping mall’s management and leasing office. He is planning a town-hall meeting tomorrow to recruit community support for a neighborhood watch. An effective crime prevention strategy would not only protect businesses in the mall from burglary, it would improve the surrounding area, he said.

“If we can actually halt this transition of people stealing copper plumbing and electrical wires and things like that, it would give a hell of a boost to the residential real estate in the area,” Wright said. “It is essential to make sure that the area itself is secure, using the Jackson Police Department and neighborhood watch in such a way that it’s not just merely stopping the thieves and (can collectors), but it’s basically (increasing) the value of the people that live around Jackson Square.”

The mall boasts 340,000 square-feet of retail space, of which only 20 percent is currently occupied. Current tenants include HLS Salon, DSI Kidney Care, two bingo halls, Parallel Fitness and P.H.A.T. Church, whose pastor, Tony Yarber, represents South Jackson as Ward 6 councilman. The mall could ultimately accommodate 30 stores, Wright said.

He has already lined up one new tenant, C&K Palace, a roller-skating rink scheduled to open by late August. First Boise is also pursuing a soul-food restaurant, a grocery store and a call center for Dell Computers as potential tenants.

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