Memphis church to buy closed mall with plans to revitalize Hickory Hill

The City of Memphis dropped plans Monday to buy the Hickory Ridge Mall. Instead, the storm-damaged facility will now be occupied by one of the city's largest churches.

Wolrd Overcomers Church will pay nearly $1.5 million, and hopes the purchase will revitalize the Hickory Hill community by providing entertainment for families and helping residents start their own businesses.

Elgen McFerren earns his living as a barber at "The Cut", a shop just across the street from closed mall. He says he's relieved to know the church is buying the facility.

"It will give people an opportunity to have jobs and bring more influences into the community, give kids a place to go."
A tornado last February damaged the building, putting the final nail in the coffin for the struggling mall.
McFerren says the mall's closure caused business to drop at his shop. "No traffic, no walk-ins..." 

Pastor Alton Williams of World Overcomers says he wants to bring people back to the area by bringing the mall back to life with stores, community services, an entertainment center and a cinema that shows family-friendly movies.
"We just want to bring hope to the area and revitalize. I'm tired of seeing businesses leave."
World Overcomers sees this venture as an opportunity for its members who dream of starting a business but don't have the finances to get off the ground.
Church member Meredith Charleston believes Williams' plans are just what the area needs.

"A lot of people have just given up on this area, but Pastor A.R. Williams, he hasn't gave up on it."
And for that, McFerren is thankful.

"I think it's something great, and I think it's needed."

to e-mail Lori Brown.