Cinema/entertainment park at Pemberton Mall?

With the permission of “boredstiff,” we reprint her submission to “Potpourri” concerning Pemberton Mall and the possible location of a new cinema. She requests your suggestions regarding possible locations for a new cinema and an entertainment park. Boredstiff:


I wrote a letter to the Mayor to discuss his comment about the mall and what I think we should do with it or some other property that is large enough. I would [like] your feed back on my idea as well as other ways we can pursue this idea.




Mayor Leyens,


I wanted to take a moment and talk to you regarding your comments in the paper yesterday regarding your thoughts or ideas for the Pemberton Mall. I think you had a great idea about the anchor stores remaining as individual stores and demolishing the rest to make room for other possibilities. One possibility I would like to see at that location would be for a new movie theater as well as some kind of entertainment park for families. The location already has adequate parking space as well as being right there in the heart of the fast food restaurants. The city of Vicksburg really does not have that much to offer families or our teenagers. I would like to see something that contained miniature golf, laser tag, batting cages, go carts or something like that. It is shame that we have to drive to Jackson to find entertainment. Our city is large enough that I think it would be great if we could offer something of this nature. I feel as if you would be willing to support something like this

since you were behind the Catfish Row Park which is a wonderful addition to our city, however, it is something that can only be used in the warmer months.


I believe that bringing something like this to our city might help reduce the amount of trouble that our teenagers get in to. I think it might help keep them from hanging out in parking lots.


I understand that this possible location is a very slim possibility but I do think that this city needs something like this here. There are several other empty buildings that this idea would be ideal for.


I would really appreciate it if you would take some time to speak with me about this.


Please give me a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX ext. XXX or reply back to me. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts or comments on this.




Thank you for taking the time to send me your ideas and thoughts for some alternate uses of the Pemberton Mall property. I will certainly pass along your ideas to the owners of this property. As you know, the City of Vicksburg does not own the Pemberton Mall property. Therefore, we do not have input as to how the owners choose to change or develop it, as long as they keep the buildings and grounds up to building and inspection codes.


We have however, had several conversations and meetings with the owners about what was needed here and offered as many incentives as legally allowed, along with support, to help them redevelop the property. To date nothing has taken place. We are consistently working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Foundation and other entities to try and recruit new industry and businesses to come and invest and build in Vicksburg. That is one reason we have worked so hard to make our City as attractive as possible. However, in the end, it is up to private companies to make the decision of whether or not they want to invest in Vicksburg. We can only recruit, offer incentives and whatever resources we have, to make their plans come to fruition. We also think Vicksburg is a great City and has so much to offer. We will continue to recruit new businesses, help the existing businesses expand or redevelop, and send the message to potential investors that Vicksburg is the place they

want to be.


Thank you again for taking the time to write me. I always appreciate hearing suggestions and ideas from our citizens. I will try to call you next week and we can discuss things further.




Laurence Leyens



Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm  Comments (17)  

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  1. Not a bad idea. But for this idea to work,if CBL needs to lower its rent which closed most of the businesses and it needs to bring in stores that can compete with the high end stores in Madison,Richland area.
    As for a cinema the cinema needs to be outside the mall. Look at the box cinemas in Clinton,Pearl,Flowood etd. Also the cinema needs to managaned responisbly. But to combine it with something for local kids to do is not a bad idea at all. But if the cinema market here is going to survive it needs to be like the Malco 17,Tinseltown in Pearl. I can tell you some would love to see a stadium cinema here. And the cinema needs to be the state of the art: digital cinemas are now the norm. But first this market needs to reveavulated.

  2. I am planning to write a letter to CBL mentioning this idea. If anyone would like to as well here is their website.

  3. The reality is the local community would have to support any business. With our current mentality of “I can save a nickel by driving to where ever” I am not optimistic.

    The people who complain about the lack of local retail options are the same ones who complain about the cost of products in our local businesses.

    If you look at the local businesses that thrive they have common themes. A low price, a unique product or wealthy owners. As one of the not wealthy owners of businesses that offer a common product we go for the highest quality at the best price – because that is what this market supports.

    We declined a mall location for our businesses because of the rent. The high rent is a trade for higher traffic counts. This mall does not match evenly. In a thriving mall such as North Park those businesses are paying a premium rent for the high traffic counts and it is a fair trade. They get the traffic count to support the rent.

    The individuals who work at the local mall are good people who do the best with what they have. However they work for a corporate entity that sets the rent and the local employees have little control over that aspect. I am not in the mall business so I am not qualified to speak on why they take the approach of charging a premium rent for this mall. CBL is a successful group who excels in their industry. Still it doesn’t make sense to me why they insist on the high rent at this mall.

    On the solution side of things boredstiff has a good idea. It is my guess that CBL will look at it from a ROI (Return on Investment) point of view. Again, that makes me skeptical. The best indicator of what will happen in the future is what has happened in the past. In the past the good people of Vicksburg have not paid a little more in significant enough numbers to support a local mall business.

    A local business cannot match the raw product cost of a large national retailer. If I buy 10 cases a week of a product I can get a good price. 100 cases a week and I get a great price. 1000 cases a week and the producer of the product and I can negotiate a price 20% less – or more, than the 10 or 100 case a week price. That is how the large chains get such a good price and why you have to pay a higher price from the local retailers.

    If you want more business options in Vicksburg you have to shop at the locally owned businesses.

  4. David real good point on the mall rent. Even to me it doesn’t make sense for CBL which is a real successful mall retailer to charge high rent to its customers. Right now thier stock has dropped to 21.00 a share. In the past CBL has had high performace stock. But why high rent on such a small mall? It doesn’t sound for the return of your investment either. Also when more small retailers close the more the market shifts. The reason that locals didn’t support the local busineses is in the past they charged high prices becouse of the goverment here. Real stupid in my opioin. Plus in the past u had a buiness clique here which were anti-competive and they kept competiton out. Now those small business are paying the price for not letting in competiton. U know a lot of your once downtown businesses,mostly the local families ones,had been responisble. Where they made the mistake I believe happen over thirty years ago: they didn’t see the new trends at the time and they didn’t adapt.Since change is a constant in business and u don’t adapt your local business eventually die out.
    It sounds like to me high rent would hurt your invenstment than help it. But the Pemberton Plaza part of the mall has been thriving.

  5. Dead on Chuck. Although I think 30 years ago our downtown, along with every other downtown in America didn’t have to deal with Walmart. Walmart probably did more to kill downtowns across America than any other factor.

  6. A few months ago I commented about how it would be a good idea to have a discount theater, one that showed only movies that had been out for a while, and have them open only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That way there would be something to go see, it wouldn’t take a drive out of town, and it would be at a cost that wouldn’t break a family’s budget. AND keep people in Vicksburg for the weekend. I mean, we ALL see previews for movies that we say, yeah, that looks good, I’ll wait for the DVD. This way, we could still get to see the movie on the big screen, it would be a good place to have a date, have a bunch of friends get together, or just pop in, watch a movie and go home. There is one in Columbia, S.C. that does a thriving business (granted, it is a college town), but I think that the people in Vicksburg would support something like this. And put it at the mall, where there is already a theater! That makes more sense than that area just sitting there vacant. It seems that the mall “powers that be” would be happy to get the revenue from a theater like that.
    Is this a completely cockamamie idea or could it work? And David, be kind if you have to take me down a peg or two!!! I’m vulnerable right now, ya know!!!!
    Anyway, that’s my two cents, spent right here, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

  7. Tricia, that is a great idea. I have heard several people discuss something like that. In Memphis there is a $1.00 movie theater that plays movies that have been out in the major theaters and it makes a killing. We need to have something to do hear.

    Has anyone heard anything about a new bowling alley yet?

  8. Listen I’m member of Cinema Treasures website and when the cinema closed I posted the story of what happen to ours there. I can tell you on the site on news updates I can tell a lot renovations on old cinemas across the united states are taking place.From Philadelphia,Pa to California. I remember the Joy Theatre which I went to see my first movie; what I remember about it was its art deco theme. That’s coming back. Investors are revising old cinemas but still cinemas are closing across the United States. Mostly due to corporate consildation. I like that idea Tricia I would they’re some classics I would love to see on the screen. And some of those classics still get released from time to time. With the right marketing Tricia an idea you mentioned would work.
    The new trend in cinemas is now hi-tech: digital cinemas.

  9. Tricia that is a brilliant idea. Give me some money and we will do it. You run the business and staff and I will go to the movies. Whacha think?

    This theater is perfect for that kind of event. If the mall would be willing to do a reasonable rent and the equipment is still there then the start up won’t be much at all. Literally less than $10,000. If the equipment is gone then a projector and bulb are $12,000 range, screen for $9,000 times four screens and pray the chairs are still there. Soda fountain, popcorn machine and whatever other goodies in the $6,000 range.

    Hmmm,…at $2.00 a ticket on only Fri, Sat and Sun with 130 seats in each theater, 3 show times a day you could generate, at 50% capacity, $4680 plus concession sales at 70% of that, $3276 for a gross income of $7356 per weekend. $382,152 annually. 2 cashier/ticket takers, 2 concession and a manager/projectionist type, cost of the film, rent, insurance, bookkeeping, utilities and marketing…I don’t know. If you were the manager/projectionist… Labor at @$840 per weekend, films at 60% of box office take, $2808, rent in the $2000 month range, cost of goods at 40%, insurance @$300 month, utilities at $2000 month, marketing in the $800 month range…. phew. That leaves somewhere around $7500 per month before your debt service and taxes.

    At $3 a ticket….

    So, we gonna do it?

  10. Uh, yeah, David, let me whip out my checkbook. I mean, MY David had life insurance but I don’t think that I could cover all of this!!!!! We need a civic-minded individual with very deep pockets to come to our aid!!! Where’s Oprah when you need her???

  11. Call the Mayor. He has the money, he is civic minded…who better???


    If king Lawrence and his merry men cant take your property away from you or whatever else they try to rob you of other then property rights freedom they can sick the IRS on you!!! I just recently got a notice from my CPA that the IRS wants to do a complete inventory of our business!! That comes only two weeks after my very inflammatory statements about Lawrence Leyes.————Im just about 60 years old now and all my years in this business have never had anyting like this happen.

    From what I can read from the expert testimony on the Clay st. building handed in by the top expert in the world James Cohen (twin towers collapse) the city seems to have take over my property on clay st and put a stop work order on it but they took all the responsibility as to what happens to it now and till the time they decide to spend more of YOUR money on what to do since they stopped us!

    I guess the city administration didn’t like that too much, wasn’t and isn’t looking to good for them. So they sicked the IRS on us for whatever.

    One of the IRS agents in Jackson who was rather nice confided in my that the complaint was initiated from the city of Vicksburg.

    So unless your company books can stand the light of day better be very careful as to what you say and who you say it about. Fortunately for my my wife and i our books should all be in good order and squeaky clean. Im wondering who will they call next. Maybe the cia!!

    Preston Reuther

  13. Hey Preston it time to make War with Laurence Leyens: bring in the O’Reilly Factor into this. Since the IRS complaint orginated from Vicksburg have your lawyers contact the state press,national press on this issue. Now u have the basis to now harp on Laurence Leyens. Have your lawyers contact Fox News,MSNBC,CNN and see how this mayor would react to national press inquiries. Especially with the IRS. Why not turned the IRS on Leyens?

  14. Here is the reply I received from CBL properties (owners of Pemberton Mall):

    thank you so much for taking the time to give us your feedback (below) on Pemberton Square. I think you have some great ideas and, in fact, we have considered many very similar ideas in our efforts to enhance the mall property.

    As you may have heard, we have been investigating multiple redevelopment options for the mall to become a more productive and viable retail and entertainment destination for the Vicksburg market. Evaluating the opportunities that are available and making sure they effectively meet the demands of the market can take time and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we go through this process.

    We have a dedicated mall management and leasing team led by Renee Williams and Heather Heilig respectively, who each live and breath Pemberton Square on a daily basis and would want nothing less than to deliver new and exciting stores and entertainment to the Pemberton Square marketplace.

    We look forward to sharing positive news with you and the rest of the community in the near future. Thanks again for your feedback.

    Alan Lebovitz
    Vice President, Asset Management
    CBL & Associates Properties, Inc.

    Office – 423-490-8306
    Direct Fax – 423-893-4293

  15. I believe it’s time for Renee Williams to leave the mall. As a propetier she hasn’t done enough to attract business and second the the question of high rent and profit taking should be taken up as well. High rent has chased away some really fine stores like FYE,Bath and Body Works etc. Lower rent would mean more business. Listen in the Pemberon Plaza where it’s thriving; high rent chased away Baskin and Robbins. CEO Liebowitz hasn’t done enouogh for this small mall property. Did you know CBL 2006 projections were off? the more business shut down in the mall-the more crime is going climb and the more this market is going to move toward Madison,Ridgeland.

  16. Renee is the bomb.

    She does an excellent job and maintains a positive attitude on the Mall, Vicksburg and our community as well. She serves on local boards and is an asset to our community.

    She has no input on rent. That is set by her bosses. Does your boss have any policies you don’t like?

    If you knew Renee you would like and support her, and her efforts.

  17. I heard a rumor that Pemberton Mall is going closed. Have any of you heard it? My cohorts whom I worked with have heard this rumor too. Has anyone heard this rumor circulating around town?

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