BUTTE – The Butte Plaza Mall has lost many tenants in recent years, so it’s welcome news this week that a large tenant is moving in.
“Everybody is happy and we’re very grateful,” said mall manager Alana Ferko.
The mall signed a lease with FCR, an Oregon-based call center that plans to hire up to 350 employees, to open a Butte facility in the former JC Penney’s store that has been vacant since 2014.
While this is not a retail store, mall officials are still encouraged to have a large business occupy the more than 34,000 square foot space.
“Malls are embracing a mixed-use concept because becoming an exclusive retail property just isn’t in the cards anymore, so we need to evolve,” said Ferko.
Some store owners are happy to have a new tenant that will bring many employees to the mall.
“We’ll take it, I think it’s going to be good. Obviously, more jobs and just more people circulating around the area is going to be good for all of us, I think,” said Keenan Jewelers co-owner Rhonda Lee.
Officials are hoping this latest development will make the Butte Plaza Mall more attractive to a major retailer, so they can fill up some of these big spaces like the one left vacant by Herberger’s last year.
“Hopefully, other people will want to investigate moving into the mall. It actually builds a little more sustainability for the mall,” Ferko said.
Getting through these lean years has been a challenge for the few remaining stores in the mall.
“Trying to do our best to remain positive and hoping that things do turn around. Butte’s tough, Butte’s resilient and there are no better people than Butte people,” said Lee.
City officials say FCR should start hiring in March and be open in the mall by this Spring.