The Herald News, Wednesday, December 28, 2016 – Page A1

By Kevin P. O’Connor
Email: koconnor@heraldnews.com

Fall River – Movie time is getting closer in the city.

Demolition is almost done at the former New Harbour Mall on William S. Canning Boulevard. Crews with Callahan Construction Managers of Bridgewater are ready to begin rebuilding next
week to transform the site into the South Coast Marketplace.

First up: A 10- to 12-screen theater, returning an entertainment option last offered in the city in September 2007.

“We have begun demolition and expect to be pouring footings within the next week for the future theater expansion,” said Stephen J. Callahan Jr., the project executive for Callahan Construction Managers.

“Individual interior tenant build-outs are expected to begin sometime in April.”

CEA Group of Cambridge purchased the New Harbour Mall four years ago. Company principal Steven Cohen announced in October 2015 that his company planned to make it new again.

Market Basket has already committed to the site, buying the eastern end of the 30-acre parcel. The former Kmart store was torn down and concrete footings have been poured to form the edges of the new store.

Cohen said he expects about two dozen stores in the new plaza, along with restaurants, the movie theater and several small service stores, such as barber shops or dry cleaning facilities. It is not known when the CEA Group will begin announcing the stores that will locate in the plaza. City officials say they expect those announcements in January or February of 2017. CEA officials say they will make announcements “soon.”

The front of the former mall is now mostly gone, with the building wide open and its skeleton exposed.

It is possible to see inside the structure to the back wall. Steel support columns and roof rafters are visible, as well as the exposed cinderblock of the back and side walls.

Ditches have been dug and refilled in the parking lots for storm water lines. All around the parking lots are cylinders of concrete or hard plastic that will form the catch basins to handle water from rain and snow.

The mall was built in 1971, designed as an enclosed mall, which was the cutting edge in retail fashion at the time, Cohen said.

As late as 2004 the mall was at full occupancy. But the movie theater went dark on Labor Day of 2007, and the mall began its decline.

By the summer of 2015, the mall was declared an Economic Opportunity Area by the state. That meant the property had been at least 75 percent vacant for two years. It qualified for redevelopment tax credits from both the state and the city because of that designation.

Market Basket is expected to open in the summer of 2017. The entire complex should be open for business in the fall, developers say.

Santander Bank and Staples are the only two businesses still open, operating in separate buildings at the far southwest corner of the site.