The Vestavia City Center is in bankruptcy protection now as a means of avoiding foreclosure. Since the original retail plan hasn’t worked well, I have a totally unsolicited, mom-centered suggestion for the current or next owner: Why not work to make it into an activity/arts destination? I’m imagining dance and art studios, martial arts, tumbling, music lessons, and even costume, musical instrument, and trophy shops.
The current tenants have managed to be successful despite all: Panera Bread, Dale’s Southern Grill, Moe’s and Starbucks stay busy and even crowded. I suspect this is because they have a loyal customer base and accessible parking. But since the City Center didn’t become the shopping destination that was expected, let’s have a re-do that gives us a central place for all the running around we’re doing anyway. Here are some selfish resasons for my proposal:
- We moms would have a sort of one-stop spot to handle all the team mom errands and could bring the kids for lessons (imagine how great it would be to have one kid at karate and one kid at dance, all without having to dash from one place to another).
- We could all grab a bite at Panera or Moe’s instead of drive-thru on the way to or from lessons. Our families could even sit for a relaxed meal together (imagine!) at Dale’s Southern Grill or pick up a frozen entree for home.
- We could park without worrying about dragging gear and costumes through the rain or having the car getting burning hot in the summer.
- Publix is right there. We can pick up milk, bread and a few other sundries within a kids’ 45 minute lesson time.
Developers, think creatively. Allow a tenant to rent during the day for yoga and pilates, then another tenant in the evening for ballroom dance (or allow sublease).
Recruit a trophy shop and make sure someone offers monogramming and stitching. Do you know what a hassle it is for a team mom to get a dozen ball caps personalized with names? Or alter a cheer uniform?
Let us use any unleased space for the end-of-season parties. Throw up some folding tables and chairs and we’ll get tablecloths from Dollar Tree and pizza from Donato’s or Papa John’s, both just down the road. As long as moms are supervising, you can be sure the place will be left reasonably clean (we can’t help ourselves; unless there’s a white tablecloth, we compulsively wipe down tables before a meal and then stack the used dishes afterward).
You’ve already got fountains, space to congregate, wide walkways and sheltered parking. Get us moms there regularly and your future will be assured as a true city center.