Washington Prime Group, a Columbus business owning most of the mall, announced today that 50,000 square feet recently vacated by a consolidating Dillard’s will host the first Ohio location of Round 1, a worldwide group of play centers based in Japan.
Many malls are struggling in Ohio and beyond, but local leaders say the 56-year-old Great Lakes Mall is pretty much balancing losses with gains.
The shrinking Sears chain is expected in mid-September to leave two buildings owned by Seritage Growth Properties of New York. But Washington Prime won approval last month from the Mentor Planning Commission to construct a 6,500-square-foot outbuilding along Plaza Boulevard for a restaurant. Great Lakes spokeswoman Kate Miller said the company hopes to sign up a restaurant soon for the outbuilding and another for space adjoining Round 1.
All told, Washington Prime is investing another $15 million in Great Lakes. In a press release, Lou Conforti, chief executive officer, said, “Entertainment, food and beverage play an important role as we continue to diversify tenancy, as well as – plain and simple — make our assets more fun.”
Nowadays, many people shop with their fingers. But Great Lakes leaders say others still shop with their feet.
Tony Pestyk, the mall’s general manager, said of the company’s new projects, “This investment reflects our commitment to the community and will provide our guests with an increasingly dynamic environment in which to shop, dine and spend time together.”
Lying between Mentor Avenue, Johnnycake Ridge Road and Plaza Boulevard, the mall consists of a few outbuildings and a few attached buildings with common hallways. Macy’s owns its store there, and Dillard’s used to own two. Then Dillard’s sold the men’s, children’s and home store to Washington Prime and moved those departments this spring into what had been a store just for women’s goods.
Great Lakes’s Miller said construction should begin for Round 1 this month, and the center should open next spring. Round 1 will offer bowling, billiards, karaoke, arcade games, darts, ping pong and more.
Great Lakes is also seeking tenants for the second floor of the old Dillard’s. Beyond the $15 million project, mall management hopes to create stores facing the parking lot between the two old Dillard’s buildings.
Seritage could not be reached for comments about possible new tenants for the Sears’ sites.
Great Lakes has more than 120 stores and restaurants. Miller declined to reveal the vacancy rate of her company’s nearly 1.3 million square feet. But she said the place is doing well overall. Indeed, most of it looks full and busy.
In Mentor overall, about 5 percent of retail space was vacant at the end of 2016. Last month, the Planning Commission approved a City Market retail development by the Visconsi Companies on Center Street (Ohio 615) south of Ohio 2 that will include a supermarket and a Blaze Pizza.