will be an entertainment district with an amphitheater, green space, bars and restaurants. The top officials of the Columbus based Washington Prime Group — which owns the mall — were in town Saturday for the announcement. It was our first time to talk with them about this new style of mall, their association with the Debartolo-Yorks — and the Cafaro’s purchase of the Dillards building. “BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY BECAUSE I’VE GROWN TO LOVE THIS AREA.” Lou Conforti — CEO of Washington Prime Group — was at Boardman’s Southern Park Mall on Saturday — watching as demolition of the former Sears buidling began — and talked about the future. “CONCERTS, SPORTING EVENTS, YOU NAME IT.” Conforti and his Vice President Matt Jurkowitz made themselves available for an extended interview. I asked their opinion on the Cafaro Company buying the now vacant Dillard’s building. “QUITE FRANKLY INDIFFERENT, I MEAN JUST INDIFFERENT.” Conforti says he will demand that whatever the Cafaro’s do with the Dillard’s site that it inures with the benefit of the community. The two sides he says have not talked. WHERE THERE’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTNER WE’LL BE THERE TO PARTNER SO EXCITED TO SEE WHAT THEY DO ON THAT SITE.” Conforti praised the Debartolo-York family for its involvement in the project. The new development will be called Debartolo Commons. “THEY’RE JUST THE MOST LOYAL AND GENEROUS FAMILY I’VE EVER MET. AND THAT’S EVIDENCED BY EVERY TIME I SEE DENISE SHE ALWAYS HAS SOME BAKED GOODS.” Picture sof Debartolo Commons show ample green space — open areas which Conforti says will be the future of retail. It’s something he says — the retail industry has been myopic about — until now. “THIS IS ABOUT CREATING A TOWN CENTER, AND A TOWN CENTER INCLUDES GREEN SPACE, IT INCLUDES ENTERTAINMENT, INCLUDES LOCAL” [A21]20190909 MALL FOLO 11PM-TAG One other note on the future of the Dillard’s building — Cafaro Company spokesman Joe Bell says they’ve hired a broker and are marketing the building to proseptive tenents. He says the Cafaro’s do not need approval from Washington Prime on what will go in the building. Bell also called the development of Debartolo Commons “a good thing.”