By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
The Atrium Mall is in the initial stages of a rejuvenation, with repairs completed and more planned. A professional office is opening, and another business is expanding.
New Atrium owner David Shaw said he is moving some tenants to other, better locations within the historic Havre landmark and negotiating with prospective new tenants.
"I can't promise them the moon, but maybe a few clouds," Shaw said.
He said he is close to finalizing contracts with three. He declined to name them until the deals are signed.
The optimism is a turnaround from two months ago after building owner Don Vaupel notified tenants that he planned to close the Atrium on March 31, citing a shortage of tenants and soaring energy costs.
Shaw, owner of Stellar Computer Consulting and a tenant in the mall, closed a deal to purchase the Atrium from Vaupel on March 30.
Since then lawyer Robert Peterson has opened an office on the top floor, and Sharon Pollington on Friday opened Carousel Kids, a consignment store for children's clothing in the northwest corner of Carousel Decor & Crafts on the main floor of the Atrium.
"I think it's something we need in this town," Pollington said Wednesday. "Kids grow out of clothes so fast."
People can bring in kids clothes, infant sizes to size 10, for sale. Pollington decides whether to accept the items and also sets the sale price. She takes a 35 percent commission when an item sells.
Due to limited space, she is only taking spring or summer clothes now, she said.
Meanwhile, Shaw is making other improvements to the building. Both escalators and the elevator are working. He said all of the outer doors will soon be repaired. Some of the outer doors cannot be opened now.
One improvement is related to his other business: People with wireless Internet can tap into a 1.5-megabyte connection anywhere in the mall.
Another major project, which may be months or more in the future, is reducing the utility bills. Vaupel said in February that the monthly utility bill for the Atrium had reached $10,000.
Shaw said he is considering hiring a consultant to find the best way to improve the efficiency of the building.
One option he is looking at is using a new technology in lighting - light emitting diode, or LED. Shaw said an LED unit that produces the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb costs more than $20, but uses 4 watts of electricity and is rated to last 20 years or more.