Reservoir talk not moving Mounds shopping mall

The owners of Mounds Mall shopping center in Anderson are looking at relocation options in case a proposed seven-mile-long reservoir along central Indiana's White River is built.

The reservoir's dam would be near the mall's property and project maps show much of the southeast of the city's downtown would be flooded to create the lake.

Virgil Cook, a Mounds Mall co-owner, said rumors about the shopping center possibly closing aren't true.

"I guess people like to speculate on things and that is how rumors start," Cook told The Herald Bulletin of Anderson.

The 2,100-acre lake would also cover woodlands along the White River between Anderson and Muncie and part of Mounds State Park, which is known for earthworks built more than 2,000 years ago by the Adena-Hopewell people.

Jesse Wilkerson, who handles leasing and land sales for Cook and Mounds Mall, said new tenants are being actively sought and current leases renewed at the mall. He said the mall ownership is exploring options for relocating to property near Hoosier Park Casino on the city's south side.

"Since we do not have control of any of the proposed developments related to the Mounds Lake reservoir, any timeline or proposed options are subject to the materialization of any future development moving forward," Wilkerson said.

Reservoir project advocates say it would improve flood control, create prime real estate for waterfront housing and boost economic development in the Anderson area. The planned 50-foot-high earthen dam would create a lake slightly larger than Geist Reservoir on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Funding sources for the estimated $450 million project are uncertain. Opponents have argued it is too expensive and would destroy a nature preserve that's home to rare plants and animals.

Mounds Mall opened in 1965 as one of the first enclosed malls in Indiana. It was developed by Melvin Simon & Associates and owned by the Simon Property Group until 2003, when it was sold to Florida-based Bayview Financial, which sold the mall in 2009 to the Cook family.

The mall has 27 tenants, but has yet to fill an anchor spot vacated by Sears in 2012.

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