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Metrocenter remains mostly unused more than 500 days after purchase, promise of rebuilding

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Metrocenter Mall in West Jackson was once the largest indoor shopping mall in the Southeast.

Built in 1978, the mall once thrived and drew shoppers from all over the state. But as more malls emerged, Metrocenter began dying, officially closing in 2018.

In 2020, the mall was purchased by Emily Seiferth-Sanders.

Seiferth-Sanders’ purchase brought promise of exciting things, but her past raised some concerns.

In 2013, she was convicted on false pretense and served time in Jefferson County.

At the time she purchased the mall, she was out on probation.

Still, the purchase went through and the new owner made some grand promises: retail stores, a ferris wheel, a carousel, gaming, luxury apartments and more.

An advertisement of planned renovations to Metrocenter
An advertisement of planned renovations to Metrocenter(WLBT)

In April 2021, 3 On Your Side returned to Metrocenter to see what progress had been made.

White’s Perfect Kutz and Styles was operational, and several other stores had merchandise, but remained closed. The food court was a ghost town.

Now, in July, there’s still little progress done to the outside, the parking lot is in disrepair and the landscaping is non-existent.

On the inside, White’s Perfect Kutz and Styles was still working--but the air conditioning is not.

Fans were scattered about, including just outside the one food place that was open in the food court.

Eventually, 3 On Your Side was approached by Devonte Tate, who identified himself as the marketing manager for Metrocenter Mall. He said Seifeth-Sanders was not available to speak, but a big announcement was coming. He also asked our crew to leave.

“People want the mall to flourish. I understand that. One simple thing to do, when you’re leaving out of Krystal...stop throwing your trash out. Stop making the place worse than what it is,” Tate said.

Tate said the air conditioning at the mall had been out for months, and claims it was broken when Seiferth-Sanders purchased the mall.

The air conditioning was functional when WLBT crews visited in April.

He had no answer as to when the mall would be up and running.

“Well you know, to be completely honest, I don’t know,” Tate said. “You gotta give me that. I can’t sit here and lay you out a plan of what people can do.”

He says it would help if the community would collectively support the Metrocenter venture. Without specifying how, he said such support would give Seiferth-Sanders more time.

“That would give leadership time to make all of those other things, hat take a long time,” he said. “National retailer contracts--those things take a long time, especially when trying to take the mall from nothing and making it into something. So, just a little time.”

In reality, it’s been more than 500 days since Seiferth-Sanders announced that she owned the interior of the mall. Video from that day and months later shows little change.

One thing that has changed is Seiferth-Sanders’ legal woes. Since purchasing the mall, she’s been sued by two different people.

Roger Thomas, Sr. with Eco Environmental Services is suing for just over $67,000. He’s claiming he did work on the parking lot and a road owned by the Metrocenter and says he’s not been paid.

Christopher Jones has filed a similar lawsuit for twice as much.

Jones is suing for $156,000, claiming he provided money, services, labor and materials to improve the mall itself and was never paid for his work.

He said Seiferth-Sanders promised to pay him in January 2021 but he has not received any compensation.

Both filings are petitioning to place a mechanic’s lien on the mall in hopes of recouping their money.

They aren’t the only ones looking to be paid, either.

Seiferth-Sanders still owes property taxes on the Metrocenter. Due at the first of the year, Hinds County tax records show she owes Hinds County more than $86,000 for the still-unimproved property.

Seiferth-Sanders never responded to any calls seeking an interview for this story.

She only owns the interior of the mall. The City of Jackson is leasing for the water department, Burlington is owned independently, and the old Sears is still up for sale.

Seiferth-Sanders is also paying $700 in restitution for her Jefferson County conviction.

Our goal is to continue following the progress of the Metrocenter and bring timely updates when new information is available.

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