The new owners of Uptown’s Calhoun Square hope to add new vibrancy to the neighborhood by redesigning the indoor mall and bringing up to 500 tech jobs to a nearby office development.
Local developer Stu Ackerberg, who bought Calhoun Square this spring from out-of-state owners Blackrock Inc., told a neighborhood group that they will begin work in the next 30 to 45 days to redesign common areas and other aspects of the indoor mall.
They have already begun moving furniture around and making exterior aesthetic improvements. “There will be tile coming out, and sheetrock coming out, to just … try and create this urban, gritty feel,” Ackerberg said.
Ackerberg told the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group that he has a signed letter of intent with Code42, a major local tech firm, to move between 400 to 500 jobs into phase two of Mozaic, near Lagoon Avenue. Code42 is currently based in Nordeast.
“For us, what continues to be the missing link to making Uptown as healthy and vibrant as it could be is to have more daytime population,” said Ackerberg, noting that they are still negotiating a lease.
“High-paying jobs, younger, creative, vibrant people that again should just help the community and the live, work and the play component,” Ackerberg said.
Ackerberg said he will eventually start trying to develop an empty block adjacent to Calhoun Square, currently bordered by a fence with advertisements. He said it would likely become office, “and maybe even a hotel if we can figure that out.”
As for Calhoun Square itself, Ackerberg said his options for reconfiguring the space are limited because the facility is 88 percent rented out. About half of that is the former Figlio’s restaurant space on Lake Street.
Comfortable seating areas, charting stations and other amenities will likely factor into the reconfiguration. “Changing the energy and playing with the common areas to come up with something that just feels more urban and more consistent with this Uptown area,” Ackerbeg said.
One of the meeting’s attendees, Maura Lynch, urged Ackerberg to install more communal spaces and move away from trying to be a suburban mall.
“I think previous iterations of Calhoun Square have attempted to be … a draw for suburban spenders,” Lynch said. “While we value their money as being green, I really hope that the focus will really be on serving our community. And if it happens to draw money from elsewhere, great.”
Others suggested that the post office be returned to the building, as well as adding more small and local businesses.