The Opry Mills Mall reopened Thursday morning nearly two years after the historic flood of May 2010 forced it to close.
"We couldn't be happier to be getting back in business," Gregg Goodman, president of The Mills, said Wednesday during a special sneak peak media tour inside the sprawling shopping complex located about 10 miles east of downtown Nashville.
He continued, "We've rebuilt it as the 2012 version of the mall that we originally built in 2000."
With the snip of a ribbon, the mall officially reopened at 9:30 a.m. Country singer Pam Tillis sung the National Anthem for hundreds of onlookers anxious to hit the stores.
The mall, originally built in 2000, was renovated from top to bottom.
Instead of carpet and hardwood, there's new tile, along with new finishes, light fixtures and colors.
"We did want to go for a color palette that was timeless that would feel the same way on the 10th anniversary that it does [Thursday] when we open," Goodman continued.
There are new tenants to go along with the new look.
"We have a lot of great new outlet stores in the project such as Polo, Coach, Tommy Bahama and the like," said Goodman, adding, "We've got a lot of everybody's favorites coming back [as well], outlets like Saks off 5th, Nike and so forth."
Among the major changes, mall officials have created merchandise zones where retailers are grouped together by fashion, kids and entertainment, making it easier for people to shop the stores they want to without walking so far.
"If someone wants to just shop the fashion district, we make it really easy for them to park in a certain area, walk that district and not necessarily have to spend a whole day if that's not what they have time to do," Goodman explained.
In addition, each store has its own unique look on the outside where everything looked the same at the old Opry Mills.
As space turns over, Goodman said retailers can come in and build their own "prototype stores."
Mall officials are optimistic customers will love the new look and mix of stores and view it as a project worth waiting for.
Jacob Seals said he worked at the mall before the historic flood.
"My wife and I actually both lost our jobs when it flooded, so it's a breath of fresh air to say the least. I know a lot of jobs have just come back to Middle Tennessee that we really desperately need," he told Nashville's News 2.
Another shopper added, "It's good to see that we are back."
While most of the 1.2 million square foot space is leased, mall management is in talks with other national and international retailers that could be coming in the future.
The mall is located at the old site of the Opryland USA theme park alongside the Cumberland River and adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
A dispute over insurance coverage delayed restoration work at the venue.
An estimated $200 million in repairs has since been done.
The mall, with 140 retailers, is owned by Simon Property Group.