CARY — The "coming soon" sign at Cary Towne Center points at a new direction for the towns biggest indoor mall: A Dave and Busters bar and arcade is under construction, replacing about a dozen smaller spots.
For mall management, the grown-up fun-plex is a way to draw attention and life to the mall. Locals lately have worried about the centers future, asking whether it will be able to hold on amid a flood of big-box stores, online merchants, strip malls and open-air centers.
In online reviews, most customers complain about or praise the lack of crowds, and many have noted a seeming decline in the malls shopping options and popularity.
Theres a lot of places to shop in the region. We want to have things that will bring people to this mall, said Josh Harmon, the new manager of Cary Towne Center. Theres going to be a big focus, really, across the industry on shopper-tainment, if you will something thats tangible, that you see and taste and touch.
At Dave and Busters, customers will see televisions, taste beer and touch video games.
The popular barcade chain has only one outlet in North Carolina; its new location, to open this fall, will occupy 30,000 square feet, replacing spaces just across from the Belk store, according to leasing plans.
Bringing the new attraction is a solid thing were doing to revitalize the mall, Harmon said.
The mall also will build a 2,000-square-foot childrens play area, and its in talks to bring new tenants potentially restaurants to the space occupied now by a Harris Teeter. (The grocery store is moving across the street, to the former Galaxy Cinema location.)
Eventually, owner CBL Properties may consider a much more dramatic change for Cary Towne Center, which began life as Cary Village Shopping Mall in 1979 alongside a Big Star Food Store, according to local history books.
CBL is conducting an internal assessment for the potential modernization and repositioning of Cary Towne Center. The company is considering transforming the mall toward something more along the lines of the North Hills mall in Raleigh, according to a letter from a company vice president to the Cary Town Council earlier this year.
North Hills bills itself as Raleighs Midtown, a multi-faceted district with open-air shopping, compared to the air-conditioned pavilions of the current Cary mall.
Theres been a big commitment to this property, Harmon said. Were really starting to do what we can, and were looking at other options, as far as maybe larger development.
Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary