Mike Absher's vision for Marion mall - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Mike Absher's vision for Marion mall

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MARION, Ill. -- Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion sparks a lot of heated discussion from eviction notices to bankruptcy court. But now, it's getting some positive attention. 

Mayoral candidate Mike Absher has released his vision for the property following concern that the mall could lose it's anchor stores such as Dillard's and Target.

"As bad as it seems, it can get a lot worse from here," Absher says. "We need to be restoring sales tax revenue and property tax revenue. To make commerce happen, you have to have people." 

His plan is to change the mall to fit with how people shop today. Absher says people mainly go to the mall for entertainment and to eat at restaurants, and then shop while there. 

The new layout would create an open space where the food court currently sits, "Creating a multi-venue which would consist of some attractions, some pavilions for outdoor activities including a double sided small and large concert venue, and some eateries." 

Then, refacing the outside of the building so more shops can have easy access storefronts. "People don't shop going to store to store to store anymore. They go, to get in and out," Absher explains. 

The mall's inside would also get a facelift, "Meeting spaces, office spaces, conference spaces. There's been talk of some residential component." 

Absher does realize that there are hurdles, but remains positive,"It will come out of bankruptcy as some point, we have to prepare for that point and figure out what's next." 

By that point, he hopes to be mayor and present an attractive idea to potential developers. Whether it's his own or something better that all locals can agree on. 

News 3 reached out to the other mayoral candidates to hear about their ideas for the mall. 

Current Mayor Anthony Rinella says he would oppose investing any more tax payer money in the property. Instead, he would like to make the area a TIF district to attract developers that way. 

However, Rinella says there are more important issues in Marion than the mall such as securing an additional water tank and fixing sewer lines. 

Dennis Ball would like to create a committee dedicated to researching proposals for legal and commercial aspects. 

Finally, Angelo Highwater says there need to be more communication on the topic, and would like a town hall so everyone can be informed on the mall's status and plan what to do. 

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