SUDBURY -- Forget about the old names you might have known in the past -- "City Centre" and "Rainbow Centre" are now gone. Sudbury's downtown mall is now "Elm Place."

New signage has gone up outside the building and the property's owners are hoping it'll soon be back to business as usual as the province starts to re-open from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're very excited to have our new name and our new logo going forward," said property manager Robert Green. "We're taking this opportunity now to voice our new identity. We've completed a large construction project on our parkade and our main identity now is professional services."

Green says there will still be a mall element to the business, but they will be primarily professional services and office space.

Downtown malls have had a tough go across Canada in recent years. Several cities have found it difficult filling or revamping properties, including cities like Chatham, Hamilton and London.

Urban evolution

"It's kind of an urban evolution that's happened everywhere," Green said. "Obviously in Sudbury, it is a historical property -- this is, in fact, our 50th anniversary -- but the downtown mall gave way to the suburban mall, which started to lose traction to the box stores, and then the online shopping. That's where retail has evolved."

Public input was sought for the name change and there was a contest. They're hoping to be able to announce the winner when they hold the grand opening later this September.

"What we're trying to get past is that the idea that it's still a retail mall," he said. "There is a large mall concourse and people will see this when they're passing through to get to the World Gym or Imagine Cinemas, but the vast majority of the property is the office complex."

The new name and change in focus has some retailers hoping for the best.

"From Rainbow Centre to Elm Place, they needed a change," said Shan Meghrani. "I hope it invokes good change for Sudbury and Sudburians. It's not the first mall that I've worked in and it's been slow, so I'm hoping the name invokes change and that business picks up."

Customers appeared to be split on news of the name change. While most like the name, some were not sure if it was needed.

"It's hard to say, the Rainbow Centre is nice too," said Ken Piche. "I like it, it's probably … catchier, so maybe they should just leave it as the Rainbow Centre."

"It's good, it's good, I like it," said Micheline Lamarre. "I like the shops and I know lots of people that pass through."

"To have a building that's been here for 50 years, even though it's a name change, it's remarkable," said Barry Stewart.

The name change goes into effect immediately.

"We're hoping as the pandemic evolves people have the opportunity to come down see what we are, see how the parking lot is and explore what the possibilities can be here," said Green.