NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It has long been considered one of the fastest-growing areas in Nashville, but it’s had its fair share of ups and downs. Antioch, wedged between Donelson and Southeast Nashville, is a bustling and diverse area.
Now, the brand new Tanger Outlets Nashville shopping center greets you along Interstate 24. The hotly-anticipated outlet mall opened on Friday.
“The Antioch of old is effectively dead and this is the new Antioch, and I just want to tell everybody, ‘Welcome back to Antioch,'” said Councilwoman Joy Styles directly into News 2’s cameras.
However, to understand what this means for Antioch, you must go back to the beginning, so News 2 went to sit down with a woman who has seen almost all of it.
“It was in the late 90s, ’95…’96, Hickory Hollow Mall was thriving,” described Jacobia Dowell, a former member of the Metro Council.
The Hickory Hollow Mall was the mecca for retail and entertainment for years.
“A lot of people moved to this area, a lot of young people and it was thriving. You had a movie theater booming, a mall that was booming…this was the quasi downtown,” Dowell said.
“It’s convenient and it’s close to home and you don’t have to drive that far to get the things that you want,” said a shopper who spoke with News 2 in 2013.
In a central location, with shopping and restaurants, it was easy to see why the mall was so popular.
However, the rise of excitement in the area started to come down.
“The average lifespan of a retail suburban shopping mall is 50 years, and I thought to myself, ‘How old is that mall?’ Of course, it was built in the late 70s, so I knew that at the time in the late 90s coming in that we were at the last phase of that mall development,” Dowell explained. “At that time, that mall was on a lifeline; when I was elected, there was not much left; we lost our anchor stores.”
Dowell explained at the time many residents in the area blamed crime and break-ins. Instead, she said it was a combination of many things.
“In 2011 when I got in office, I’ll never forget one of the first phone calls I received was a notice to let me know that Dillards was closing, and then right after that Target was closing, and I mean it just continued, and at that point just going into office I knew it was coming, but not so soon,” Dowell said.
Then hope came for the area with new owners and a new name – The Global Mall at the Crossings – and then a new promise of a store giant in IKEA.
“When they announced, it was just the most exciting day for a lot of people out there. They were like, ‘I can’t believe…I can’t believe this,’ so we were all excited because IKEA was to be the anchor for the Century Farms Development,” Dowell remembered.
The Century Farms Development was meant to be a $66 million investment and it was going to bring 2,000 jobs with it. However, just when people started to smell the roses, IKEA pulled the plug on the project.
“I think a lot of people were heartbroken. It was as if someone gave us a present and took it back, and so I think we’re still getting over it,” explained Dowell.
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
Now years later, Tanger was born.
“This is the beginning of our revitalization and I look forward to all of the businesses that are now going to be looking at Tanger to say, ‘Wow, we really underestimated Antioch and we need to have a footprint here,'” said Styles.
With the opening of Tanger Outlets Nashville, city officials are hopeful more stores are on the way. Last month, Nashville received a $5 million grant for the new Regional Transit Center at the old Global Mall site. Groundbreaking is set for sometime next year.