The sale of Worthington Square became final on Monday, when Morris Capital Partners closed the deal to purchase the struggling mall from GE Credit Equities.

The sale of Worthington Square became final on Monday, when Morris Capital Partners closed the deal to purchase the struggling mall from GE Credit Equities.

The partnership closed on the project Dec. 20, and the total project redevelopment is expected to exceed $19-million, according to an announcement by Worthington spokeswoman Anne Brown.

Tom Carter, a Worthington resident, is a principal in the Texas-based company.

Carter, one of the developers of Easton, has plans to transform the mall into a vibrant shopping area with indoor and outdoor space, new restaurants, public spaces, and stores.

Eventually the site may include apartments or condominiums, though the first stage focuses on retail uses.

More immediate plans include removing part of the roof over the northern, east-west walkway; creating a park where the Gap store once stood; building out dumpster enclosures on the west side; and extending the roadway along the west side of the mall.

Entryways and storefronts will also be redesigned.

"We are extremely excited by this opportunity," said Morris Capital principal Bill Morris. " We will work with the city of Worthington and the community to bring Worthington Square to its full potential. Many of the major tenants, including Jos. A. Bank, Talbots, Chico's and others, have already shown their faith in our vision by renewing their leases, and the interest from prospective new tenants, especially restaurants, has been phenomenal. We see Worthington Square once again becoming a shining jewel for the region."

A grand opening is set for November 2011.

The city and schools recently approved a 30-year tax increment financing (TIF) agreement to divert tax dollars back into the cost of redeveloping the mall.

The city would forgo 100 percent of the property taxes on the increased value of the mall, and the school district would forgo 15 percent to 20 percent of its property tax dollars.

Because of the specific type of TIF approved, developers could use the TIF money on a wide variety of improvements. The city will expect an annual report on how the abated taxes are used.

Renovations are expected to begin in May.

Carter is president of Real Estate Development Advisors. He was executive vice president at Steiner + Associates during the development of Easton.

City officials have been taken on several tours of Easton guided by Carter, who pointed out architectural and other features that may be adopted in the redevelopment of Worthington Square.

He has been an executive with real estate development companies for 25 years and has worked on several high-profile mixed-use projects and retail centers around the country.