Austin Community College now has complete ownership of Highland Mall. The college announced today that it has acquired the ground lease for the sections of the building it didn’t already own.
ACC now plans to quickly move forward to make new use of the site. ACC President and CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes said in a statement today that the first step will be renovating the former J.C. Penney property into classrooms and labs.
“In particular, the Penney space will house the college’s math emporium, an open-lab model that allows students to move through developmental math curriculum at an individualized pace,” reads a statement from ACC.
For the immediate future, it will be business as usual for the shops still running in the mall. ACC says they’ll work with tenants as plans develop.
ACC plans to have the J.C. Penny space up and running by fall of 2014.
Highland Mall has steadily lost tenants for years, including all of its anchor department stores – J.C. Penney, Dillard’s and Macy’s. Below, photographer Jeff Heimsath's slideshow of Highland Mall, shot last year when the mall was at 50 percent vacancy – a number which has since risen.