Mall to open Friday
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 31, 2011 1:46 PM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
An Interstate Renovation crew member walks down the mall corridor toward Sears this morning as plastic tubes pumping air into the mall to reduce the humidity in the building hang overhead.
UPDATE 4 p.m. - Berkeley Mall Manager Jan Luttrell said Wednesday afternoon that only Belk, JCPenney and Sears department stores will be open Friday. There will be no public access to the mall interior, she emphasized. There is indication that the department stores could open as early as Thursday.
Berkeley Mall Manager Jan Luttrell expects the mall to be reopened Friday, with the exception of some of the stores most damaged by the collapse of the roof near the Belk department store atrium.
Ms. Luttrell said the department stores were to be inspected today and that the facility has power. Store managers have begun coming in to assess the damage to their inventory and stores.
Ms. Luttrell said there was extensive damage to the Verizon Wireless store, Gamestop and Bath & Body Works, and the carpets in Claire's and Golden Diamond had to be ripped up. Those stores are predicted to be among the last to open, although she said there was a possibility that Belk could also open since there is a partition dividing the construction work from the store.
Daughtry Jewelers didn't fare well from the damage, as Ms. Luttrell said she might try to find a temporary location for the jewelry store after its second-floor ceiling collapsed. In addition, Kay Jewelers management was unable to check out its inventory because the power outage prevented the security gates from opening.
Inspections and assesments at the mall's more than 40 stores are expected to continue this week, as each store will have lost at least six days of business if the mall reopens as scheduled Friday.
But the mall isn't the only place in the city that assessments and inspections are taking place. City Manager Scott Stevens said the city was still working through its damage estimates, but said the number of private structures with at least minor damage throughout the city was 275 and that there was an estimated $1.5 million of damage reported.
Stevens said those figures, which he received from Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra late yesterday, didn't include city facilities, though there was only minor damage suffered in the public sector, including the parks. He said city officials will meet Thursday to assess all of the damage.