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Park City mall merchants find hope in plans to demolish, reuse Bon-Ton space

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The former Bon-Ton department store is in the foreground of this April 2018 aerial photo of Park City Center.

Park City Center merchants weren’t informed of demolition plans for The Bon-Ton building, but say they’re hopeful that whatever replaces the former department store will be good for business.

Some of the 20 shops in The Bon-Ton arm of the four-wing shopping center saw sales decline after the 179,000-square-foot mall anchor closed last August, store staff told LNP.

A year later, they have reason to anticipate better days ahead.

“Something needs to go there because this wing is sad now,” said Colleen Rubio, assistant manager at Justice, a clothing shop for girls. “For a while we were afraid because anchors were closing, and stores in the wing also.”

Retailers welcomed this month’s announcement that Round1 will open in space Sears vacated in March. Round1 is an entertainment venue with bowling, arcade games, ping pong, food and a kids zone.

Now merchants can likewise anticipate a tenant renewing life in the south wing opposite the Sears wing.

“They can definitely turn it around,” said Samantha Hinkley, manager at Famous Footwear, who saw sales fall after The Bon-Ton closed practically next door. “Maybe they will put something neat in there.”

“Hopefully it’s something that’s inviting to tourists, and something that will last long,” said Danielle Allen, assistant manager at Windsor, a women’s clothing shop. “We need longevity, not something that will come and then leave. ... I feel a lot of people don’t know what’s in this wing.”

While the Apple store in The Bon-Ton wing continues to draw lots of customers — with some lining up before it opens — neighboring merchants said the traffic isn’t comparable to what The Bon-Ton created.

“I hope whatever replaces (The Bon-Ton building) would bring people in,” said Andrea Ho, assistant manager of Aerie, a lingerie shop. “Something new and exciting draws in the traffic.”

Hinkley at Famous Footwear said she’d rather see the vacant store reused rather than demolished, but added that “they must have big plans for it.”

“As long as people are doing something, it’s hopeful,” Rubio said.