Repairs on Opry Mills Mall shut down - WKRN News 2

Repairs on Opry Mills Mall shut down

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The shopping complex alongside the Cumberland River was submerged in 12 feet of water in early May. The shopping complex alongside the Cumberland River was submerged in 12 feet of water in early May.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Repair crews have stopped working inside the Opry Mills Mall because money dedicated to the repairs has been depleted.

The Opry Mills Limited Partnership said the May flood caused more than $200 million in damages.

Before the flood, the mall employed around 3,000 people, had close to 200 stores and reported up to 16 million visitors a year.

To date the company reports spending $50 million on repairs.  In September, the company filed a lawsuit against the insurers of Opry Mills Mall claiming the companies owe the owners another $150 million in flood insurance payments.

"Regrettably, nothing has changed since we filed the lawsuit in September to enforce the insurance companies' commitments," Opry Mills' spokesperson Les Morris said in an emailed statement from Simon Properties Group's Indianapolis, Indiana headquarters.

"Each passing day only increases the losses suffered by Opry Mills, the citizens of Nashville, and the Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Metro Nashville Government General Fund, and the State of Tennessee's General Fund, for whom Opry Mills has been a source of substantial operating revenue," the statement continued.

According to the company, sales per year at Opry Mills totaled approximately $279 million.

Those sales generated annual sales tax revenues of $26 million and more than $4 million in annual real estate taxes.

"We do not know if any of the people that were employed at Opry Mills have found other work," Morris continued, "but it is obvious that this source of substantial tax revenues has dried up."

Since Opry Mills' closure, some retailers have relocated their businesses to new stores in Middle Tennessee.

Banana Republic, Ecko, Guess and at least three other retailers have since opened new stores at the Lebanon Premium Outlets in Wilson County.

The Nike factory store moved to Brentwood, and Old Navy will soon open a new location near Target in the Donelson-Hermitage area.

At the Cool Springs Galleria in Williamson County, stores are seeing more customers.

Charles Pierce is general manager of the Cool Springs Galleria location of Dillard's.  He told News 2 sales have been strong in the months following the flood.

"From talking to associates on the floor, they have said they have a lot of people who shopped locally at [Opry Mills] and a lot of travelers who stay out that way," he said.

Pierce said the boost in business for his store and others is crucial going into the holiday shopping season.

"It's a big percentage of our business," he said.  "December is 20% or more of your year's business so it's very important for the overall importance of your business."

Angie Partin and her friend Tracye Heatherly are in Nashville for the Tennessee School Boards Association Convention.

The convention is usually held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  This year it was moved to the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.

The women usually use the trip as a chance to do Christmas shopping at Opry Mills Mall.  This year they took the trip to the Cool Springs Galleria.

"We are so glad they reopened the Opryland Hotel but we really wish they would go ahead and reopen [Opry Mills Mall]," Partin said.  "It's a great place to shop and walk to or take the bus to from the Opryland hotel it was very close."

Heatherly worries that an indefinite shut down foreshadows the closing of the mall permanently.

"When you are not familiar with the Nashville area it makes it hard to navigate the area," she said. "That's very sad to hear that especially because next year our school board conference will be back at the Opryland hotel."

Opry Mills could not give a timeline for how long the legal dispute with its insurer could last.

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