Plans were unveiled Friday for a $10 million renovation of the Crystal Mall, including new flooring, new entrances and a new overall color scheme and brand. But for one influential business official, it was more about what was coming out than what was going in.
Mall officials held a press conference in front of Bed Bath & Beyond. When it was Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce President Tony Sheridan’s turn to talk, he focused on the joy of the mall opening in September 1984.
The fondest memory was when the town of Waterford, Ireland, got involved, sending over the famous Crystal Mall chandelier from the esteemed Waterford Crystal factory, Sheridan said. That chandelier brought two towns an ocean apart together, and he was excited to see it live on in the mall, Sheridan said.
That’s when things got awkward. The chandelier will not be part of the mall after the renovation, Crystal Mall General Manager Karen Tarantino said.
“It is the symbol of the opening of the mall,” Sheridan said. “I think there will be a number of disappointed people.”
Sheridan said the chandelier was made of real Waterford crystal, saying he toured the factory while the chandelier was being built. The mall tested the chandelier, and it is not made of real crystal, mall officials said.
“I went to the factory myself, unless the factory was lying,” Sheridan said. “I really think you should check into that again.”
The renovated mall will not have the chandelier, Tarantino reiterated afterward. The mall will still be called the Crystal Mall, she said.
Perhaps the mall could do something with the chandelier, such as raffle off pieces for charity, Sheridan said. It would be shame to lose it altogether, he said.
About The Renovation
The renovation will begin in April and continue until the day after Thanksgiving, Tarantino said. The renovation will then stop for the holiday season and then start back up in January, with a completion date set for April 2012, she said.
Nearly all the flooring in the mall will be replaced, mainly with new tile, except parts of the second floor, which will have carpet, according to a mall release. The three main entrances will be renovated, landscaping around the mall will be upgraded, all the lighting will be changed, sofas and padded chairs will be placed throughout the mall and the food court will get a complete facelift, according to the release.
To avoid any impact on shoppers, all the work will be done at night, said project coordinator Keith Boyle of Cube 3 Studio, the architecture company charged with designing the project. Work will begin at 10 p.m. and end at 6 a.m., three hours before the mall opens, Boyle said.
“They’ll be working while we are sleeping,” Tarantino said.
The main exterior signage will be completely redone, changing the current logo to a gray, more neutral look, Boyle said. The interior will match that as well, for more of a “timeless” feel, he said.
“We do not want the colors of the mall to compete with the storefronts,” he said.
The mall will be completely repainted, all new hand rails will be installed and the ramps will be made larger, according to the mall release. A family bathroom will be installed, and the children’s play area will be moved to in front of Christmas Tree Shops, according to the release.
“While we focus on improvement that will appeal to all segments of our shopper base, we will place special emphasis on family-friendly amenities, such as the new family restroom located near the relocated children’s play area and the addition of soft-seating areas,” Tarantino said. “Because Crystal Mall is such a popular destination for families to spend time together, we want to enhance the shopping experience.”
Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, based in New Haven, is the general contractor for the project, Boyle said. However, all of the jobs will go out to bid, so local contractors would be selected, he said.
The construction should create 200 temporary jobs, Boyle said.
The renovation will also make the mall more energy-efficient, Tarantino said. All the new light bulbs will be more energy-efficient, and all the materials will be part of a “sustainable world,” Boyle said.
The Crystal Mall has undergone one other renovation, in 1996, Tarantino said. The Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, approved the renovation in late 2010 despite the bad economy, she said.
“They just said, it’s time,” Tarantino said.
To end the press conference, Waterford First Selectman Daniel Steward, Sheridan, Tarantino, Crystal Mall Director of Marketing Chris Bastien and Whiting-Turner representative Peter Valianatos participated in a tile-breaking ceremony.