Cafaro Retooling Vacant Anchor Spaces

by Alex Tostado

Cafaro Co.’s longevity (70 years as a shopping center developer and owner), the long-term business relationships established over six decades and the leasing team’s tenacity and execution are the reasons for the success Cafaro has achieved recently in re-developing vacant Anchor Boxes in their Portfolio of enclosed malls.

A few years ago at Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, Iowa, long-time Anchor Store Sears closed in early Spring. Nine months later, Planet Fitness opened an 18,000-square-foot space on the first floor. A year after that, Vertical Jump Park opened in 26,000 square feet of the former Sears building and earlier this year Gold Standard Athletics, primarily an indoor baseball academy across several age groups, opened in 16,000 square feet.

Also a few years ago, a former two-story Burlington Coat Factory sat vacant at Millcreek Mall in Erie, Pennsylvania. After much thought and planning, Cafaro executed its plan of creating an entertainment wing. First, two sit-down restaurants were added — Primanti Brothers and Mad Mex — at each side of a new mall entrance. Next, a 23,300-square-foot H&M opened at the corner of where the entertainment wing connects with the main concourse of the mall. Escalators had to be relocated in order to accommodate a new two-story, 50,043-square-foot Round One, which opened last summer, and a 9,500-square-foot Guitar Center, which opened last Fall. This entertainment-based redevelopment greatly enhanced the west wing into a new, vibrant corridor.

Daniel Mancuso, Vice President of Specialty Leasing, Cafaro Co.

Two years ago, a former Elder-Beerman Department Store located prominently at the front of Huntington Mall in Barboursville, West Virginia closed. Six months after closing, 21,500 square feet of this former anchor space welcomed a new Forever 21 in the area that had access to the interior mall. Thirteen months later, a dual Home Goods/T.J. Maxx opened in 55,000 square feet of the front of the former anchor store. That same year, Dick’s Sporting Goods more than doubled its square footage as an anchor at Huntington Mall by adding its Field & Stream concept as a side-by-side with Dick’s Sporting Goods. With so many anchor stores closing over the past couple of years, Huntington Mall had to be one of the few enclosed shopping malls in the country to undergo such major redevelopment of two anchor boxes in the same year.

More recently, the Sears store attached to Kentucky Oaks Mall in Paducah, Kentucky closed early last year. By November, a new Burlington Store opened in the area which had access to the interior of the mall in 41,900 square feet. A new Ross Dress for Less opened in 23,400 square feet of the former Sears building in July of this year. In addition, a new 19,500-square-foot H&M Store opened near the former Sears this past May. In the former Elder-Beerman anchor space at the front of the mall, a 24,000-square-foot Home Goods is under construction, Five Below has signed an 8,500-square-foot lease and a lease is in the works for a third tenant, which will be identified after mutual execution of the lease.

Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville, Ohio is another Cafaro-owned shopping mall which has experienced anchor redevelopment recently. A few years ago, Boscov’s Department Store expanded and remodeled a former J.C. Penney at the front of the mall. Two years ago, Marshall’s came to the mall and occupied 20,000 square feet and last year, Tilt Studio opened in a 25,000-square-foot space, both in the former Elder-Beerman Department Store space. A Super K-Mart attached to the mall closed last year and the majority of that building was torn down earlier this year. A Dunham Sports will soon open in a 45,000-square-foot space and a four-story Hampton Inn & Suites will open on the site next year. This will be the third new hotel added to this Shopping Complex over the past four years.

At Sandusky Mall in Sandusky, Ohio, Cafaro is gearing up for the start of anchor redevelopment. Macy’s closed prior to the expiration of its lease and Cafaro’s leasing team has been working feverishly on the redevelopment project. As the developer is about to receive possession of Macy’s space, there are already three Leases out on the building, one signed by an existing tenant, which will relocate and expand in size and two leases are out to new-to-market national tenants for other portions of the building. A portion of the former Sears building is being transformed into a new 50,000-square-foot Hobby Lobby and there are discussions about potential office use at the former Elder-Beerman Department Store. Finally, a multifamily residential component on the acreage to the east of the former Elder-Beerman Store, which is owned by a Cafaro subsidiary, is in the final stages of planning.

— By Daniel Mancuso, vice president of specialty leasing at Cafaro Co.

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