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Friday, 06 January 2017 12:02

New Apple store one of many possible changes coming to Woodland Mall

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GRAND RAPIDS — The ongoing build out of a new Apple Inc. store at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids makes for just one of many changes at the region’s oldest enclosed shopping center.

Two sources confirmed to MiBiz that the existing Apple retail store in Woodland Mall will move to a larger space next door to its current location within the enclosed 1.17 million-square-foot shopping center, located near the busy intersection of the East Beltline Avenue and 28th Street SE.

Spokespersons for Woodland Mall and Apple neither confirmed nor denied the move. A spokesperson for the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant said the company couldn’t share any further details because no announcements had yet been made.

It’s not clear how much larger the new Apple retail space will be compared to the existing store.

However, the upgraded Apple store appears to be just one of many changes coming to the shopping center and its surrounding outlots over the next few months.

The announced closing this week of the more than 300,000-square-foot Sears department store at Woodland Mall could clear the way for a flurry of changes and the potential for a significant clustering of high-end shopping choices on the site.

In place of Sears, a site plan map posted on the website of Woodland Mall’s owner, Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), shows Davenport, Iowa-based department store Von Maur. The map shows that the store will take just over 86,000 square feet where Sears is currently located.

A commercial real estate source with knowledge of the deal confirmed that a lease is already in place. Lyndsey Hicks, marketing director for Woodland Mall confirmed a lease is in place for some of the Sears space but would not confirm Von Maur as the tenant.

Aside from Von Maur, the map also featured multiple “proposed” tenants, consisting of retailers and restaurants, some new to the market and some existing. They included craft beer bar chain Yard House, The Container Store, outdoor retailer REI, a combined Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy, and growing hamburger chain Shake Shack.

Sources note that shopping mall operators often produce site plans or concept renderings with users that represent the type of retailers they’d like to attract, regardless of whether the stores have any intention of signing a lease.

Outside of the expected Von Maur store at the Sears space, none of the retailers shown on the sitemap have signed leases, Hicks said. She did not specify whether negotiations with the other proposed tenants have taken place.

With proposals to bring Dicks’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy together under one roof — the two brands share common ownership and both already have stores in the area — commercial real estate brokers say the clustering around Woodland Mall could alleviate some of their biggest challenges.

The 28th Street and East Beltline intersection has turned into one of the hottest retail corners in the region, according to commercial brokerage Colliers International Inc. The firm’s most recent market report shows the area has a vacancy rate of just higher than 8 percent out of nearly 7.3 million square feet of existing inventory.

The area has proven popular among retailers looking to enter the West Michigan market with restaurants like Five Guys and grocery chain Trader Joe’s choosing the vicinity for their first Grand Rapids locations.

But many companies run into challenges stemming from the lack of suitable and available space, according to Mark Ansara, an associate vice president focused on the West Michigan retail market with Colliers International.

While Ansara said he doesn’t know which retailers could wind up at the Woodland Mall property, he hopes the site continues to be a beacon for retail in the greater Grand Rapids area.

“The big piece would be that we’d have more inventory coming to market,” Ansara said. “Anyone that wants to come to this market wants 28th Street SE. Retailers we work with want to be out front and they want to come, but they have nowhere to go.”

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