"Bus noise" an issue at Southridge? It's not that simple, Simon...
Things were looking up at Southridge.
The long-dormant shopping center--the state's largest--is awakening from a decades-long slumber with new owner Simon Property Group pouring more than $50 million into it. Macy's is coming, giving Southridge a sorely needed boost of mercantile life. The structure itself is getting some sorely needed tweaks. Even the outbuildings are becoming redevelopment targets--the Journal/Sentinel says the Leath building along South 76th may be coming down, the land to be turned into restaurants.
'Bout time, I said in a recent blog. Time for Southridge to get a spot at the big kids table, I wrote, along with the likes of Bayshore, Mayfair and Brookfield Square, malls that are the kind of shopping destinations Southridge used to be. I was a big fan of Simon, for it's energy and commitment and desire to make the mall (full disclosure, I live but a mile away so a healthy Southridge makes for a happy me) someplace where people on my side of town want to spend time and dollars instead of traipsing to the north shore, Tosa or the western burbs to drop their bucks.
And then came this bus nonsense.
Simon, for reasons not made entirely clear, revealed this month that it may not want buses servicing Southridge.. No longer would they be able to drop off customers at mal entrances or use the service ring for access. Simon wanted them relegated to neighboring streets which, if you know anything about the layout, would mean a hefty strut for would-be shoppers especially during the winter or during warm-weather downpours.
Why would Simon NOT want Milwaukee County buses literally pouring customers into it's newly redone entrances.
Noise, says Simon.
BS, says I.
This isn't a noise issue and if it is, Simon is the only entity raising such a lame concern. Complaints about Southridge abound among my neighbors but never have I head someone cite "bus noise" as one of the factors keeping them away. Not once.
And, lacking a more detailed, rational Simon explanation, allow me to offer one of my own. Simon, I'm guessing, has nothing against the buses but plenty of issues with some of the folks who ride them. "Rowdy teens" is how the newspaper described them in Saturday's story on the situation. "Loud mouths" was another term.
Is that some of the "code" that JS columnist Eugene Kane spoke of recently? Does the developer have an issue with young minority kids possibly scaring off the buying public? If so, say so, and deal with it accordingly, the way other successful area shopping centers did when confronted with gang fights, flash mobs and unsupervised teens acting up.
Take a page out of the Mayfair playbook, Simon, and slap some restrictions on who can be at Southridge and when. Dictate the terms, mandate that anyone under 18 HAS to be with a parent after, say, three p.m.
Simon is apparently backing down on its anti-bus crusade. Good. Buses bring customers. Simon should be rolling out red carpets for every green-and-white in Greendale, not coming up with lame excuses to relegate them to the mall's nether regions. And, it shouldn't use silly, vague euphemisms to address a concern: kids of any nationality who don't know how to treat Southridge or it's patrons with respect. Maybe Simon thought that by citing noise as the problem with buses it could avoid the whole messy issue of "rowdy teens".
It's not that simple, Simon, but the solution is. Face it squarely and honestly. You've bought yourself more than $50 mil in good will among locals who use Southridge and others who could be drawn back there. Pro-active steps that will enhance the mall experience are an easy sell.
Dishonesty? No one's buying that.