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Good weather has Southgate Mall expansion ahead of schedule - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Good weather has Southgate Mall expansion ahead of schedule

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The $64 million project has been moving along rapidly. (MTN News photo) The $64 million project has been moving along rapidly. (MTN News photo)
A new theater is one of the centerpieces of the new-look mall. (MTN News photo) A new theater is one of the centerpieces of the new-look mall. (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

Southgate Mall managers say the mild weather is helping their $64 million expansion project move ahead of schedule, and they're reassuring customers the big project should have limited impact on their holiday shopping.

The largest expansion since Southgate Mall was first constructed more than 30 years ago has been moving along at a rapid pace since contractors broke ground this summer.

"The good weather has really helped us out. We've been able to get a lot more done before the ground freezes. So we've been able to do a lot more roadwork and get things ready so in the springtime we'll hit it rolling," Southgate Mall general manager Tim Winger said.

The centerpiece of the expansion is the new theater which is quickly taking shape.

"It's a very tall building; 42 feet, almost twice the height of the other part of the mall. And we're just very excited. We collaborated with the architects of the theater and it's going to be a really cool looking theater," Winger said. "Really appropriate for Missoula. And we're just really excited for it to open next fall."

The expansion will also "re-anchor" the former Sears store with construction of a grocery outlet and smaller shops around a "lifestyle" courtyard, "we're looking to increase the amount of visits on our property. And add entertainment and attractions that people will be excited about," said Winger.

Since all the construction right now is on the exterior of the mall, it won't effect any of the holiday traffic inside, with the exception of one entrance that's been closed.

"There's one entrance down the wing that has American Eagle and Eddie Bauer and Hollister, that wing, there's an entrance that used to be next to Now Care that is closed off. And that whole parking lot that is on the south side obviously is closed off," Winger explained.

"But the access remains the same. We have a lot of parking at all of our other entrances and you can still enter through the department stores. So we think the holiday will go pretty smooth," he added.

Winger is advising shoppers to take note of the signs that have been posted all along that southern edge of the mall for directions to their favorite stores and other businesses. 

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