The Remaking of A Mall

Few things change as rapidly or as dramatically as America’s retail landscape. Downtown shopping gave way to suburban shopping centers and many shopping centers gave way to enclosed malls. All in the course of about 50 years. Now the existence of many malls is threatened. The ease and popularity of online shopping has weakened retail in general. Department stores that anchor the malls have been hardest hit. But chains with smaller footprints are also feeling the pinch and choosing to be more selective in their brick and mortar locations.

So what happens to all those malls and shopping centers that were such destinations just a few short years ago?  In more and more cases that funky old mall is being reinvented as a newer, more relevant experience. Granite Run Mall in Media, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia is a perfect example. Opened in 1974, the mall was home to 125 retailers at its peak. Today BET Investments of Horsham, PA is rebuilding the mall as the Promenade at Granite Run, a mixed-use development that will include shops, entertainment, recreation, restaurants and apartments.

“This is a trend that we’re seeing regionally and around the country,” says Rob Cooper, a broker at Metro Commercial and one of two Metro brokers who are representing the Promenade. “You can buy almost anything online. But you can’t really get an experience online and that’s what the Promenade will offer.”

The Promenade at Granite Run will be +/- 1,024,807 sf of retail. Kohl’s and Acme along with original anchors Boscov’s and Sears will remain and will be connected by an open courtyard. The former JC Penney will soon be rebuilt, and the second floor will be occupied by Franks Theatres Cinebowl Grille, a concept that combines a movie theater, bowling alley and dining.The first floor of the building will be multiple National Junior Anchors. There will also be fast casual eateries as well as higher end stores and restaurants. Two residential towers at the Promenade will house almost 400 upscale apartments. “A resident at the Promenade will have an experience very much like a small town—very walkable, with many options for food and recreation,” says Cooper.

Also on the books for a remake is the Cherry Hill Shopping Center in nearby New Jersey.

The retail mix is being freshened up as well as the façade of the shopping center. “For shoppers, it will definitely feel like a more modern, vibrant experience,” added Cooper. An existing Big Lots will move down the strip and an At Home, billed as “the home décor superstore,” will open.

Metro is also broker of record for a former Kmart in Rehoboth, Delaware. The store will be downsized from 115,000 square feet to 57,000 and will house a Pet Smart as well as an and That!—a new brand in the Bed, Bath and Beyond Home Goods family.

Change is inevitable. But developers like BET Investments are finding ways to take something old and make it new and relevant again.


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