By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 25, 2012 at 2:11 PM

I was around when Grand Avenue opened in Downtown and enjoyed all of its early success. It was a magical place in the early going.

Then things began to fall apart for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was a fear of coming to Downtown Milwaukee.

Stores left and new ones came and then they left, too. Vacant shops became a real eyesore and the mall continued to try and reinvent itself.

I'm not an expert, but I always felt that Grand Avenue should be a place that had something that none of the other malls had. If you want to go to TJ Maxx or Borders or the old Linens 'n Things, there are plenty of places to go that are probably closer to where you live and have much easier parking.

I, along with lots of other people, mourned the death of the mall.

I was there the other day and I was stunned. The mall is not dead. It was amazing the amount of foot traffic I saw. Not senior citizen mall walkers but workers and shoppers. It wasn't jammed, but it was far from a graveyard.

I hope that the new plan to put those pop-up stores in the mall really works. Nothing would be better than to have a Downtown that offered boutique clothing, arts and crafts – local businesses that really have something unique to offer.

So I can be counted on as one of the hopeful, but also one of the converted who isn't going to go around bemoaning the death of the once-great mall. It just ain't dead.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.