Food court, toy store, anchor store. That’s pretty much what you can expect to find at most suburban malls. But Delaware County’s Granite Run Mall is hoping to change the game when it opens its dinosaur museum in the fall.
Located in Media, the mall has already begun planning the logistics of its Dinosaur-ium, to be located in the former New York & Co. retail space near the first level’s center court. The retail clothing store left the mall in January.
“We do have a little bit of vacancy,” mall marketing director Aubrey Proud tells NewsWorks. Of the mall’s approximately 80 stores, Proud declined to comment on the number of vacancies, saying he’d rather focus on the positive things happening there.
Through a partnership with Don Lessem, the museum will house life-sized dinosaurs, a dinosaur dig pit and possible a tropical rain forest. Lessem runs ExhibitRex Inc., and owns the largest private collection of dinosaur fossils. He even served as a technical adviser for the blockbuster Jurassic Park.
Billed as a regional tourist attraction meant to compete with area science museums, the Dinosaur-ium will be competitively priced, Proud said, offering parents a more affordable option. The museum, which will turn over its exhibits every three to four months, will offer self-guided tours and school trips Proud says will appeal to kids of all ages.
“We think it will be not only a mall attraction, but also a regional tourist destination,” Proud said. The exact cost of tickets has not been released yet, but he says prices will be “very inexpensive.”
The timeline for opening is rough, but Proud says the general “fall” deadline will be met. Once the logistics have been worked out (things like timed ticketing and other operating procedures), the mall will seek a building permit from the township and then begin the work required to get the Dinosaur-ium operational.
Proud said the cost of the Dinosaur-ium is being kept confidential, but the mall expects the attraction to be a popular one. “We’re shooting for 100,000 [visitors]” in the first year, he said — a number he thinks is “actually conservative.”
A major marketing campaign will kick off this summer, but Proud says the best way to stay informed is through the mall’s Facebook page.