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Mall foreclosures • ‘no way’

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

Rumors have been swirling through the Corridor recently about the foreclosure of the Market Street at Heath Brook and Berkshire Oaks, but representatives of the properties are saying “no way.”

To Trent Comer, marketing director for United American Realty, the rumors surrounding the Market Street at Heath Brook are nothing new. He has been hearing various tales about shopping center problems for more than a year now.

And the latest one about the open-air mall going into foreclosure is another one to add to the list.

He counters the story that Market Street is being foreclosed on is not true. In fact, “it’s picking up,” he said about new businesses coming on board. In the last few weeks, the mall has signed leases with retail tenants but he staying mum about the specifics. In addition  the center has signed three leases in the office space area, which is on the second floor in some parts of the mall.

Alltel recently opened and previously committed tenants will be completing their moves into the shopping center in the coming months. Barnes and Noble’s opening in March is on schedule, Pizza Vito is expected to open in April or May and Cantina Laredo is slated to open in August or September. “It’s coming along,” he said.

Comer said he expects the shopping center to be 50 percent occupied with retailers by the end of 2009 and completely full by the fall of 2010, which is sure to make many area residents happy. Annette Dersmo, who lives along the Corridor, said the mall is very nice, but a little empty right now. However, “I think there is great promise.” 

Carol Yount agrees. She has “high hopes” for the mall and is hoping to see retailers like Pottery Barn, Coldwater Creek and Chico’s move into Market Street.

Shopper Jan Patterson said she likes the center and thinks it will be nicer once all of the stores open their doors. Her friend, Ann Kuebler, said she appreciates the stores that have already come to the mall. “I enjoy Dillard’s, DSW, and Dick’s. Those are my favorites,” she said.

“I love it,” Lynn Sapienza said. She and her daughter, Rebecca, made a purchase at Old Navy and grabbed a drink at Panera Bread during their shopping trip. Rebecca said she would like to see a Forever 21 store move in, while mom liked the idea of Ann Taylor Loft, Talbot’s and Coldwater Creek.

Once Market Street at Heath Brook is completely occupied, they plan to offer an event monthly such as a ‘50s night complete with antique cars.

Happy Retailers

at Heath Brook

Greg Ostberg, store manager at Dillard’s, has heard rumors that his store was pulling out of Market Street at Heath Brook, but he said it could not be further from the truth.

In fact, January was the store’s biggest sales month since it opened in early 2008. “We couldn’t be happier,” Ostberg said. And, with stores like Barnes and Noble coming in, he is expecting Dillard’s to get even busier. “I’m very positive about 2009,” he said.

March will be the store’s biggest month of the year for new inventory – it’s when spring fashions start to arrive.

At the newly-opened Flint Creek Outfitters, general manager Troy Vernon said he is “very pleased with the response” to the soft opening. Sales for December were “amazing,” January surpassed expectations and February started off with a “bang.” And the outdoor store has not even held its grand opening yet.

Vernon said the store has been in a soft opening for the last few months and will have the grand opening celebration Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. During the festivities, customers can expect to see manufacture representatives, plenty of demonstrations including fly casting, camping and hiking, and sales specials.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. DeLucca Toyota will be bringing out vehicles for display, a Jeep club will show up with some souped-up vehicles, and Miller’s Boat Center will float your boat with its display.

Flint Creek Outfitters sells brands like Orvis, Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, Guy Harvey and The North Face. They also offer an organic clothing line and shoe brand Sperry Top Sider, among others. In addition, each Flint Creek customer who walks into the store will get a complementary cup of Caribou Coffee.

Panera Bread opened its doors in November and has been doing well. General manger David Gager said business has been “great.” The restaurant recently rolled out a new coffee line and added a strawberry yogurt parfait to its menu.

In addition to Market Street, the Berkshire Oaks shopping center, which is the home to Kohl’s, Petco and Gator’s Dockside Restaurant, has also been rumored to be heading for foreclosure. However, Mike Green, construction/development representative with Berkshire Management said, “We are defiantly not in foreclosure.”

And, the center is attracting new tenants. The newest stores that have announced move-in plans include-, Tijuana Flats restaurant, Anytime Fitness and Nails So Happy. Though he did not have opening dates, Green said they should be open early this year.

What’s Brewing

at Starbucks?

Down at the other end of the road, Starbucks Coffee at 9548 S.W. Hwy. 200  has been the topic of coffee klatch chatter in recent months about its announced closing. An employee at shop said it “is on the list” to be closed, but they do not have a specific date. As long as the lights are on, stop in.

E-mail Amy Ryffel-Kragh at akragh@riverlandnews.com.