Prospect Mall has been sitting empty for nearly two years now. In 2006, the mall booted out its last few tenants (the Chocolate Factory, a used bookstore, a dismal first-run movie theater) and turned out the lights. What could be done with this vacant hulk?
My first thought was to turn the whole thing into a movie complex. Gut the interior completely, add more screens, completely renovate everything. Add in a couple of restaurants facing a luxurious interior lobby space for a complete all-in-one stop for an evening on the town. Don't make it an interior arcade -- the building's too small for it to work. Make it one single space, lined by storefronts. The East Side already has two great theaters, but they're focused on art house films. A first-run theater might do well, especially if it was maintained to high standards, unlike the ratty Prospect Mall Theater.
My second thought: tear the whole thing down. There's an old brick building under there somewhere, but as it currently stands, the exterior is an EFIS-slathered nightmare, and the interior is a badly dated 1970s attempt at rustic ambiance. The lot is big enough to support something massive, a 5- or 6-story building with retail all around the base. There's no shortage of market demand for the area.
But when I went to get photographs, I discovered that, hey, the brick building might be something pretty nice:
That's some handsome brickwork. That's worth saving.
So now I’m back to my first position: gut it. Redo it. Take off the awful EFIS cladding; repair the brickwork (the building housing World of Wings a quarter mile south offers a perfect precedent.) Restore the storefronts, tie the building into the street, set up a small but quality first-run mainstream movie theater within.
And by doing so, get the black hole out of the East Side's heart.