Charlestowne Mall will undergo a bit of a facelift and a renewed effort to lure in new stores as its management works to revive the retail destination.
Plans are moving forward on a 20,000-square-foot-ice skating rink, according to mall management. Recently, Charlestowne management also started publicizing a sushi seafood buffet restaurant that's in the works.
Both of those new additions to the 20-year-old mall are expected to open in spring 2012, said mall Manager Kathy Marano.
Principals with the mall ownership company, Charlestowne Mall Investments LLC, have talked to several restaurant owners representing everything from a larger sit-down cafes to a food-court presence, said Joel Miller, with leasing broker Sperry Van Ness. The company is working with the limited-liability company.
The owners are very committed to turning things around at the mall, Miller said.
"They're very hands-on and are out at the mall several times a month," he said.
Charlestowne Mall has experienced varied success since it first opened on the city's far east side in 1991, and has often been viewed as struggling. Facing competition from outlet malls and larger, newer malls that have cropped up since it first opened, Charlestowne has struggled to attract and retain shoppers.
Sears closed its doors in April 2010 after acting as a mall anchor store for years, though that company's officials appear to see benefits in maintaining a St. Charles presence. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place earlier this month at a new Sears Home Appliance Showroom at the East Gateway shopping center.
JCPenney left 10 years ago but was replaced by upscale clothing retailer Von Maur, which is among remaining anchors including Carson Pirie Scott, Kohl's and Classic Cinemas 18—the theater, in particular, continues to be a popular spot.
Marano said mall managers also just signed on a new tenant that offers art and custom framing services.
Charlestowne Mall Investments, a privately-funded group and part of a California-based real estate investment company, now owns the property. It has invested in resurfacing a large part of the parking lot which was riddled with potholes and cracks.
The parking lot resurfacing is on a five- to seven-year plan due to years of neglect, according to mall management.
"A lot of those infrastructures and maintenance needs were neglected," said Neil Johnson, also of Sperry Van Ness. "The new owners are very committed to (the mall) looking good for tenants and customers alike."
Johnson said the owners believe an enclosed mall is still an attractive environment for shoppers and are looking for another anchor store to complement the others. Plans include family activities in addition to the retail shopping such as the two-story carousel, mini-golf and batting cages.
"We have a very broad range of vacancies to work with," Johnson said. "We've got 600 to 150,000 square feet (spaces) available."
Since coming on board last month, Johnson said Sperry Van Ness officials are excited about the new opportunities and the company is involved in some promising conversations with potential tenants.