Worthington News

Good Scout Award

Mall redeveloper honored for commitment to community

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Tom Carter will receive the 2012 Good Scout Award for all he has done for the Worthington community.

Carter, the redeveloper of the Worthington mall, will receive the honor from the Boy Scouts at a reception Oct. 24 at Worthington Hills Country Club.

The award recognizes his work on bringing the mall back to life and his work with the Worthington Youth Boosters.

"I'm humbled by it and flattered," said Carter, who is becoming well-known in the community as the mall takes shape.

In fact, rarely does a day go by when someone does not stop him and thank him for rescuing the old mall, which is now called The Shops at Worthington Place.

"I had no idea of the mall's emotional ties to the community," he said.

Carter, along with partners from Morris-Floyd Capital Partners in Texas, purchased the floundering Worthington Square mall in late 2010.

The mall was less than half full; the building had not been updated in decades; and out-of-state owners showed no interest in trying to stop the decline.

Carter immediately announced plans to breathe life back into the mall. Within weeks, existing tenants signed new contracts; renovations plans were filed with the city; and construction began.

By November 2011 -- barely a year after the new owners closed the deal -- the first phase of construction was completed, and new tenants were beginning to sign contracts.

Renovation is now complete, and over the past few months, new shops have opened almost weekly. The new Orvis store should be finished and opened by the end of the month, and another seven or eight stores should be opened by the second week in November.

"Worthington Place will be a legitimate place for holiday shopping this year," Carter said.

Carter said he is thrilled to be a part of the redevelopment of the mall. He spent most of his career developing and redeveloping malls and businesses all over the country. Making it happen in his own backyard --- Carter lives just more than a mile from Worthington Place -- is particularly gratifying, he said.

"It has been a really wonderful experience to do something in your own hometown and have the community support you," he said.

Carter was born in rural Knox County and graduated from Fredericktown High School, and received a degree in architecture from Ohio State University. After practicing architecture for three years, he decided his real passion was in real estate development.

In 1983, he moved to Dallas to pursue his career with Central Park Development.

In Texas, he met his wife, Sheila, and went to work for Pier 1 Imports as a real estate executive.

A few years later, he moved to a small struggling company by the name of Bookstop to become its real estate executive. The company was acquired by Barnes & Noble, and an aggressive expansion began, growing the company from 10 stores to 500 in eight years.

When Tom and Sheila's son, Colin, became of school age, they decided to move back to Ohio to be near family. Tom became the developer for Easton Town Center and worked on several other Easton-style developments in other cities.

In 2008, he formed a development company, Real Estate Development Advisors, and in 2010 formed the limited partnership to purchase Worthington Square.

When Carter moved back to Ohio, he considered living in several communities but said he is glad he had settled on Worthington. Colin went to school here (he is a sophomore at OSU), and the family plans to stay.

"It was one of those things that was meant to be," he said.

When Colin was in high school, Carter was one of the leaders of a committee to raise funds for synthetic turf at the Thomas Worthington High School stadium.

"I am equally as proud of that turf field as I am of the mall," he said.

In both cases, cooperation in the community led to success, he said.

The city of Worthington particularly is to be thanked for cooperating with him on the mall, he said.

"It really does prove that if you work together on things, you can get things done," he said.

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