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Hopes Rest On Boonshoft Expansion

Wayne Baker

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery's satellite operation in Springfield's Upper Valley Mall is up and running in a new, larger space. Mall officials are hoping the museum will lead to an economic revival. 

Youngsters, Riley and Ben, are at the new Boonshoft Museum, admiring a popular exhibit with the sounds of whistles and bright lights glaring around them. Their grandmother, Joe Johnson, likes the fact that the new museum is at the Upper Valley mall, because she lives in Clark County.

"I think it's great we've had a grandparent's membership for probably four or five years," Johnson says. "I've got a total of ten grandchildren so I take turns bringing them."

Over the last year, the mall has lost retailers, like Old Navy, Elder-Beerman and Charlotte Russe. Mall Manager Brenda LaBonte says new business like the Boonshoft creates a buzz that brings more people to the mall.

"From just seeing the number of people in there, it definitely creates some directional traffic," LaBonte says.

She says the Boonshoft is among a few other stores that have committed to a long-term lease. And if holiday sales are strong this year, she believes prospects for the mall's survival remain bright.