New plan breathes new life into dying East Bay mall

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- With a new owner, the hope is that one dying East Bay shopping mall will soon gain new life. "It's been very depressing because this is where I come all the time, I don't go anywhere else," said shopper Yvonne Williams, as she and a friend loped through the largely unoccupied old Hilltop Mall in Richmond.

Now, thanks to mall's recent purchase by LBG Real Estate Companies, the newly-dubbed "Shops at Hilltop" will soon undergo a major renovation. "It had been unmanned, so to speak for probably about eight years," said Leslie Lundin, a managing partner with LBG. "We actually have a suggestion box at the property and its full every week. They want a skating rink, a theatre. They want great restaurants. They want Forever 21, they want H&M."

As shown in architect's rendering, Lundin's company hopes to fulfull many of those requests in the coming years. The first step will be to renovate the mall itself. Then it will be on to a larger plan that could eventually include up to 10,000 new housing units.

RELATED: JCPenney store in Richmond's Hilltop Mall closing

"I think it's going to do a lot of good for the community," said David Stansell, the manager of Zumiez, one of the few national chain stores still at Hilltop after anchor tenant JCPenney closed its stores in July. "Hilltop Mall's like a staple to this community and the general Bay Area, so the fact that they're revitalizing it is probably the best thing that they could do for it."

"I just want to see it grow back," said Yvonne Williams' friend Miritha Moon, "just grow back so we can do what we was doing before some of the stores closed."
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