As the COVID-19 pandemic began ramping up in March 2020, many businesses began shutting down due to rising case counts. Businesses in Jonesboro, though, faced an additional challenge about that time.
On March 28, an EP-3 tornado pummeled Jonesboro, damaging homes and businesses. Jonesboro, causing millions of dollars in damages. According to local officials, there were more than 140 homes that were damaged, along with more than 100 businesses.
One of the most heavily impacted was the Turtle Creek Mall, a major economic driver in the Northeast Arkansas region.
Since March 2020, the city has worked to rebuild itself during an ongoing pandemic. But according to new Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver, the rebuilding effort for the Turtle Creek Mall is not coming quickly enough.
Along with members of his new administration and mall general manager Rick Jackson, Copenhaver recently toured the mall facility, and found that there was “insufficient” progress made in 10 months, according to a city news release. Jonesboro code enforcement director Michael Tyner, in response, issued a letter to Brookfield Properties of Chicago, the mall’s ownership group, declaring that part of the mall was a public hazard.
According to Tyner, the eastern-most portion of the mall that was damaged was a “nuisance against public health.” The City of Jonesboro has issued a 30-day noticing, requiring a plan of action from Brookfield Properties.
Copenhaver said parts of the mall – east of the mall’s food court to the Target – are salvageable, while other parts of the mall will have to be razed.
“The rest will have to be razed, and I think that’s a pretty obvious conclusion,” Copenhaver said in a statement. “But in the big picture, it’s time for answers, and the people of Jonesboro deserve answers.”
If Brookfield Properties decides to raze part of the Turtle Creek Mall property, they will be required to obtain a demolition permit within 60 days.
Copenhaver has set the deadline for the property ownership group, and if they do not move forward, the city will. City director of communications Bill Campbell said that, if this deadline is not met, the matter would move forward to the city council. The council would then determine what to do with the property – most likely razing the damaged parts.