New anchor store Von Maur set to open at Woodland Mall MIBIZ PHOTO: SYDNEY SMITH

New anchor store Von Maur set to open at Woodland Mall

BY Friday, October 11, 2019 11:35am

GRAND RAPIDS — Woodland Mall is inviting shoppers to “rediscover” the center after its $100 million redevelopment, which has paved the way for a wave of new retailers. 

The mall in southeast Grand Rapids in 2017 bought out the lease of its Sears store to redevelop that wing of the shopping center and bring in high-end tenants such as Von Maur, a 90,000-square-foot department store that opens on Saturday. Elsewhere, 19 new retailers have come to the mall since crews began the demolition of Sears in 2017.

“It’s a strong testament to Grand Rapids as a whole. We’re kind of the best-kept secret for these retailers,” Cecily McCabe, marketing director for Woodland Mall, told MiBiz. “It’s a fantastic place for their employees to live, and they’re discovering we have a strong shopping market because we’ve got a great economy here and good customer base.”

Despite changes in shopping habits, the traditional retail corridors in Grand Rapids have continued to remain viable, especially where retailers deploy new online strategies in addition to their physical locations, industry sources have told MiBiz.

“The stores that have a strong online retail (presence) and have learned to synergize that with their brick and mortar to play off of each other, those are the stores that are really strong and doing really well,” McCabe said. “We’ve worked hard to attract those types of stores so that we remain a healthy mall.”

Clothing store Urban Outfitters, The Made in Michigan Store, Tricho Salon & Spa and Black Rock Bar & Grill are among the recent additions to Woodland Mall, which is owned by Philadelphia, Pa.-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (NYSE: PEI).

The new options have come online as the vacancy rate along southeast 28th Street stands at 3 percent, which is on the higher end for corridors including southwest 28th Street, Alpine Avenue and East Beltline avenue. 

According to the most recent research available from the West Michigan office of Colliers International Inc., retail real estate activity rose compared to the last quarter of 2018. The 28th Street/East Beltline Avenue and Knapp Street/East Beltline avenue interchanges had the most activity, with new developments and tenants because of their high traffic and visibility, according to the research.

McCabe said Woodland Mall has been able to stay viable because of retailers’ continued reinvestment in their stores. Several merchants have remodeled in the last couple of years, she added.

“We’ve noticed a trend in retail that it does have a shelf life, usually around 10-20 years, so these retailers really have to reinvent themselves every 10 years and reinvest in their brick-and-mortar stores, so that’s been a strong testament to Grand Rapids and our mall,” McCabe said.

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