Opry Mills reopens after shutdown

Friday, March 23, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 12

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Opry Mills shopping mall in Nashville formally reopened Thursday after being shuttered for almost two years because of flooding from the nearby Cumberland River.

The 1.2-million-square-foot mall at the site of the old Opryland USA theme park has been closed since May 2010. A dispute over insurance coverage delayed restoration work at the venue adjacent to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center and the Grand Ole Opry House.

An estimated $200 million in repairs have been done. A few tenants have already reopened or, like Bass Pro Shops, never closed or shut down briefly. There are a dozen or so new stores.

"They've gone through a lot," Mayor Karl Dean said at reopening ceremonies. "They have restored this great engine for our economy."

The mall means nearly 3,000 jobs for Middle Tennessee. It draws some shoppers from nearby counties, and gets some business from Nashville's 1 million yearly tourists .

"I just want to see some of the new stores that have come in and see what they've done as far as renovations," shopper Karen Pearson told WSMV-TV (http://bit.ly/HlyGU6).

Country performer Pam Tillis sang "The-Star Spangled Banner" to mark the reopening.

The flooding also caused major damage in other areas of Nashville, including downtown.

The 12-year-old mall, with 140 retailers, is owned by Simon Property Group. There are three other major shopping malls in or near Nashville; two others have failed.