"I think there's a need in the community that hasn't been filled. It's our anticipation that these changes will fill a void," she said.
The makeover includes 15-plus new stores and restaurants, a more vibrant outdoor area in the plaza's center, and storefronts facing the parking lot so customers can get a look at the shops inside.
Anthropologie, one of the biggest new draws, will open July 18. Draegers supermarket, Starbucks Coffee and White House Black Market opened within the last year. Banana Republic had been planned for the plaza, but the company opted out.
"You're going to see new tenants every month until we're full," said Wilkalis.
Once the renovation is complete they will start interviewing tenants for the remaining open lots, she said. They're pursuing several restaurants, she added, but wouldn't name names except to say the new eateries will satisfy a need in the community.
The outdoor center area will draw on what Wilkalis called the plaza's positive features - the pretty scenery, babbling brook and wildlife. Grassy areas for picnicking, a fire pit, music and lighting will be added to cultivate a welcoming ambiance.
To make it kid-friendly, there will be a play area with slides. Local artist Brian Keith has been commissioned to create a sculpture piece depicting a grandfather reading to his grandchild while scenes of the book come to life.
"We're trying to create an experience where people can feel like they can come in and spend the day with their family," said Wilkalis. "Not just the restaurants and the stores but also, enjoy the surroundings."
Having storefronts face the parking lot should help make the shopping center "more open" and "exciting," she said. There will also be a second entry added, located to the left of the main entry, to make it more accessible.
The hope is that the renewed and fully stocked 230,000-square-foot plaza will attract more customers, both from Blackhawk and its neighboring areas.
"It's gonna be fabulous," Wilkalis said. "It is really exciting."
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