Posts tagged Miller Hill Mall
VACANT YOUNKER'S SPACE HAS FOUND A BUYER
Younker’s during it’s closing sale in 2018 (MPR News)

Younker’s during it’s closing sale in 2018 (MPR News)

What once was retail is now becoming space for healthcare.

It was a tough year last year at the Miller Hill Mall when not only Younker’s closed but also Sears, both due to bankruptcies. Many malls across are losing one anchor tenant, but to lose two within months of each other is very uncommon. The two closures left almost 300,000 square feet of vacant retail space at the Miller Hill Mall resulting in a major leasing challenge.

But good news, the vacant Younker’s space at the Miller Hill Mall officially has a buyer. 

Essentia Health has purchased the vacant space for $3.2 million. The building covers 145,000 square feet of space on two levels and has two different access points to the interior of the mall along with two different access points on the exterior leading to a large parking lot.

A RETAIL EPIDEMIC

While many were hoping for more retail to take over the space (rumors of Dillard’s even surfaced earlier in the year) the purchase by Essentia Heath and the change in use of the space is actually very common in the mall world these days.

Vacant Younker’s space (TDTDULUTH)

Vacant Younker’s space (TDTDULUTH)

With large vacancies occurring at malls throughout the country property owners have needed to get creative in finding ways to fill them and trust us, they have. Spaces have become large fitness centers, universities, creative office space, housing and more. 

In the Twin Cities multiple malls are dealing with the closing of anchor tenants just like the Miller Hill Mall. Southdale Center in Edina lost anchor tenant JCPenney and in response sold the vacant space to LifeTime Fitness who has since then torn down the building and is now constructing a massive fitness center, co-working space and retail space. Just North of Minneapolis Rosedale Center is dealing with the same problem of losing an anchor tenant when Herberger’s closed last year. Sources have stated that the JLL, the company that owns Rosedale Center, has plans to tear down the Herberger’s space and in its place build a large mixed-use development with housing, a hotel, retail/restaurant space and more.

So, with all this being said Essentia Health moving into the former Younker’s space isn’t out of the norm, it actually IS the new norm.

WHAT’S INSTORE (LITERALLY)?

That’s a good question. Not many details on what Essentia Health plans to do with the space have been made public. 

Rumors are swirling that the Essentia Health Fitness and Therapy Center located at 402 E. Second St. will be relocating from Downtown Duluth to the Younker’s space. The reason for the move is due to Essentia Health’s $800+ million “Vision Northland” plan which will replace the center with a large new medical building/campus.  

The relocation makes sense overall but the question that we are pondering is whether or not Essentia Health will truly take up the entire space.

WHAT WE THINK THE FUTURE COULD HOLD

To begin with, it’s a lot of space. Because it’s a lot of space it would make sense for Essentia Health to take over the upper floor and a portion of the lower level while designating some of the space that is directly next to the mall corridors for retail use. Whether or not Essentia Health would own that space and lease it themselves or potentially even sell it to the mall’s owner, Simon Properties, is a question that still remains.

Here’s another thing that could happen. Essentia Health could demolish the existing building altogether. 

Sounds pretty crazy… but it’s actually not when you think about it. Essentia Health is currently investing millions in a new Health and Wellness Center just down the road in Hermantown. What that might mean is that not all of the services currently offered at the downtown fitness center would transfer (i.e. the swimming pools) to the Younker’s space as they may be offered at the Hermantown Wellness Center. And, if they do plan on offering the exact same services there is going to need to be some SIGNIFICANT construction occurring in the existing space in order transform it. There’s a potential chance that the overall cost for rehabbing the current space might actually be more than just building an entirely new building itself.

At the moment we don’t have many details to share on the exact plans that Essentia Health has instore but when we do we’ll be sure to post more information about them right here.

 

SEARS AND K-MART ARE CLOSING. IS THERE A SILVER LINING?
Sears at the Miller Mall Mall |  MPR News

Sears at the Miller Mall Mall | MPR News

A closing is never good news, let alone two announced in a single day.

That's what happened yesterday when Sears Holdings announced that not only would the Sears location at the Miller Hill Mall be closing, but also the K-Mart in West Duluth on Central Avenue.

The two closings will result in a loss of a number of jobs in the city and will also introduce nearly 200,000 square feet of available retail space into the Twin Ports market.

Sounds terrible, right? Here's why you might want to begin looking at these closings a little more lightly. There's a silver lining, even if it doesn't seem that way at the moment.

Sears

Sears originally opened their Miller Hill Mall location in 1986. The store is a single level space that covers around 110,000 square feet and has entrances from both the mall and parking lot. That's quite a bit of space when you consider the mall itself is only about 830,000 square feet in size.

An interesting fact about the Sears space is that Sears Holdings actually OWNS the store and the land underneath, meaning they control the exterior, interior, and the surrounding parking area. Today the site is estimated to be worth around $3.6 million. 

Now, let's talk about why Sears owning the land is a good thing. It means they have to sell. Selling could mean to another retailer, which is probably unlikely as most retailers these days are not tending to make investments in real estate, or it could mean selling the space to Simon Property Group, the owner of the Miller Hill Mall.

$3.6 million is a small investment for a company like Simon. In addition, buying the former Sears space would allow the mall to take over more retail space and expand the mall which is currently near full occupancy (minus a few small retail spaces).

So, what would Simon do with the space if they did happen to buy it?

The options are endless.

What would most likely happen is that Simon would redevelop the space into more retail space, similar to what they did about a decade ago when they redeveloped the former Walgreen's space at the front of the mall into a number of different retail spaces. This would result in an updated exterior, new parking lot, and a number of new retail spaces (H&M there'd be room for you too).

Another option is that the mall could try to reposition the space as something entertainment related, a huge trend with redeveloping malls lately. That could mean a entertainment center of some sort, like Dave and Busters, or a movie/dining experience such as Alamo Drafthouse.

Lastly, the mall could try to subdivide the space or lease the space out to another large retailer. Believe it or not there are still some big box retailers that are still expanding and waiting for space like this.

In addition, if the mall is touching the Sears end maybe this will be the time for a full mall renovation. Simon is known for completing full renovations of malls while repositioning vacant anchor spaces.

Kmart.png

What about Kmart?

The closing of Kmart is without a doubt a major hit to the West Duluth neighborhood. It introduces a major void to the surrounding community which will lack a general merchandise retailer (i.e. clothes, food, household products, in one place) that is easily accessible. Another problem is that it introduces around 80,000-90,000 sqf of new retail space to the area.

But wait, is that a problem?

It might not be as the space being introduced is perfect in size to house a single or multiple retailers and is in a great area.

Some retailers that could set up shop in the space that come to our mind are Aldi, which has been actively scouting for another location in Duluth, or something along the lines of a small format Target. Target has been opening a number of small format locations across the country recently with a number of them being in former Kmart locations that have recently been vacated. 

While the closure will certainly cause disruption to the neighborhood, a silver lining is surely in store (literally). Now we're just playing a waiting game. DTA, can we get some more transit options to over the hill for the time being?

F.Y.E. TO OPEN MILLER HILL MALL LOCATION
A newly opened F.Y.E. location at Crossgates Mall   |   F.Y.E.

A newly opened F.Y.E. location at Crossgates Mall  |  F.Y.E.

A new entertainment store selling music, movies, games, CDs, DVDs, vinyls, fan merchandise and more is about to make the Miller Hill Mall it's home. F.Y.E. (For Your Entertainment) will open the doors to it's new store on October 21st.

The entertainment retailer will be moving into the space that was left vacant when Wet Seal closed their location at the mall after the company declared bankruptcy. It's been almost two years since Wet Seal's closure and that space has yet to find a permanent tenant... until now that is.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST?

Now if you are thinking to yourself that F.Y.E. reminds you of a retailer that went by the name of Sam Goody (which had a location at the Miller Hill Mall about a decade ago) then you're on the right track. Why? Well, F.Y.E. is what Sam Goody turned into.

Both companies were owned by Trans World and in 2006 it was decided that Sam Goody would cease operations with a large number of their locations closing, including the one at the Miller Hill Mall. The locations that did remain open however were rebranded as F.Y.E.

The former Wet Seal space | CDINDULUTH

Interior of a new F.Y.E. location | F.Y.E.

A NEW LOOK FOR F.Y.E.

F.Y.E. struggled after the recession in 2008 like many retailers and closed a number of underperforming stores. In recent years the company has been looking for ways to stay competitive in the market and in 2015 revamped their image and their store offerings by introducing an entirely new F.Y.E. store. 

Today customers will find not only CDs and DVDS but rather tons of pop-culture merchandise and a large selection of vinyls. That large selection of vinyls is one of the biggest things that has put F.Y.E. back on the map in recent years. As all styles and trends come into the spotlight again, vinyls have ultimately swept the stage becoming extremely popular with the millennial generation.

F.Y.E plans to open their Duluth location later this month with the Miller Hill Mall mall officials stating Friday, October 21st as the anticipated opening date. Once open it will be the first location for the retailer in Northern Minnesota and their second in Minnesota.

 
SEARS HOLDINGS LISTS DULUTH PROPERTIES

Sears has made three new "opportunities" available within the Twin Ports for retailers, developers/investors, and real estate brokers.

Sears Holdings Corporation, the real estate portion of the Sears/K-Mart company, has made available last three properties within the Twin Ports. This includes their 86,611 square foot K-Mart store at 215 North Central Ave in West Duluth along with their 98,938 square Sears store and the attached 9,131 square foot automative center at the Miller Hill Mall.

Throughout the state of Minnesota Sears Holdings has listed 11 K-Mart stores, 2 K-Mart Automotive Centers, 10 Sears stores and 10 Sears Automotive centers as available. Overall 33 properties were made available within Minnesota, one of those properties being the Sears flagship location at the Mall of America.

Available Sears Auto space highlighted in red

A CHANGE IN THE RETAIL GAME

As competition from online retailers and new retailers heats up Sears and K-Mart have seen a continued decline. This has resulted in a number of closings in the past few years with one of those being the K-Mart location near the Miller Hill Mall (now a Hobby Lobby and soon a PetSmart). More recently the company has begun to re-evaluate their company's real estate to see which properties the company can relieve themselves of resulting in large savings.

In some locations across the country Sears is downsizing their stores, many of which are over 100,000 square feet, to around 40,000 square feet leaving the rest up for redevelopment.

In some cases British retailer Primark is snatching up the extra space and opening some of their first locations within the United States. In others cases malls are using it as an excuse to expand their retail offerings with new retail space along with renovations.

NOW WHAT ABOUT DULUTH?

With the K-Mart space being listed in West Duluth it implies that that store would close. There is a chance the a real estate company could purchase the space and rent it back to K-Mart which would relieve Sears from a number of costs associated with owning a building rather than leasing it.

If K-Mart does close, it would be the biggest retail space to become available in the West End in decades and it would be a prime opportunity for a redevelopment and re-positioning of the Spirit Valley Shopping Center.

At the Miller Hill Mall the closing of Sears would be a major hit... or a major gain depending on the way you look at it. While the automotive center seems like it might be a little tougher spot to fill at it sits at the back of the mall, the Sears space is another story. 

You might not have noticed it but there is a MAJOR lack of space at the Miller Hill Mall recently. The downsizing of Sears or a closure could result in a huge opportunity for the Miller Hill Mall to expand it's retail space. 

All three spaces are available for inquiries here. In the future when more information becomes available on the potential future uses of these spaces you'll be able to find it right here on CDINDULUTH!

 
 
Build-A-Bear Workshop to renovate Duluth location

Build-A-Bear Workshop's newest store design | MDS

Build-A-Bear Workshop® is planning to freshen up their Miller Hill Mall location at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway by bringing the company's newest store design to the Twin Ports.

Planning for a Duluth Build-A-Bear Workshop® location stretches all the way back to 2011 when the company made it public that it was opening a location within the Miller Hill Mall. In October 2014 the Duluth location finally opened at the Miller Hill Mall in a space that formerly housed Torrid, a plus-sized women's clothing store.

When the construction barricades for Build-A-Bear Workshop® came down it was somewhat surprising to see that not much had changed architecturally from what was in place from the tenant before, which is very unlikely for the company's new stores. The company's signature yellow and blue tones covered the space in a fresh coat of paint, however the space didn't feature the whimsical bear land (to it's fullest extent) that customers often find within their stores.

THAT'S ABOUT TO CHANGE

On March 9th construction bids were submitted by various companies for $299,999 worth of work on behalf of Build-A-Bear Workshop® at the Miller Hill Mall. That's more than just some fresh paint on the walls. It's a full renovation.

Last year Build-A-Bear Workshop® debuted a new store prototype design that has now begun to be rolled out across the country. The company had previously been hurting in sales and was looking for new ways to engage customers, while elevating the brand. The solution was in their store design.

Build-A-Bear Workshop at Mall of America | MDS

Mall of America was one of the first locations to receive this design in the country. It's far more modern than the previous design and uses the blue and yellow colors in block formations. This means that instead of the facade being clad in both colors like it previously was, it now is clad in custom blue metal that was designed and crafted just for Build-A-Bear Workshop®. With the exterior being blue, the interior naturally takes on the yellow color, allowing the company to main their roots while introducing a simpler and cleaner look.

Duluth's 2,154 square foot location will be completely renovated from head to toe, well, ceiling to floor, including a new storefront and all new interior. Inside customers will be able to create characters by using a number of interactive stations along.

NEW STORE DETAILS

An interactive storefront will allow customers to engage with digital signage embedded in the facade that can change depending on the seasons, holiday, and special events. Directly inside there store will be the Choose Me station where guests will find all the characters Build-A-Bear Workshop® has to offer. From there they'll move onto the Love Me station which uses an interactive digital table that allows guests to add unique traits to a heart that is then placed within their character.

Hear Me station | Build-A-Bear Workshop®

The Hear Me station uses an interactive touch screen with a number of sounds that can be inserted inside the character, even allowing guests to put their favorite music or their own voice on a chip that can be inserted into the character. How cool is that?

From the Hear Me station guests move to the Stuff Me station where their character is filled with stuffing and becomes that adorable, huggable character they've always wanted. New to Build-A-Bear Workshop® are SCENTIments, allowing guests characters to smell like bubble gum, strawberry, cotton candy, or even chocolate chip! Don't let the family dog get too close when you get home or you might find yourself visiting Build-A-Bear Workshop® again quite soon.

Logically the next step is to close the seams and complete the character. Here's what's REALLY cool. Build-A-Bear Workshop® now has a program called "Find-A-Bear ID" which inserts a barcode within each character. This allows the character to be reunited with their owner if ever lost as the person who finds it can bring it to any Build-A-Bear Workshop® and the owner will be notified. 

This barcode also generates a unique code that guests receive on their character's birth certificate... yes, birth certificate, that allows their character to come to life online where they can play games and do all sorts of things with their new friend.

Name Me station | Build-A-Bear Workshop®

The Fluff Me station is where guest's characters can take a bath in a digital bath tub (hello 21st century) which can recognize items placed in it and response with sensory effects. Naturally the character will need some clothing because who let's stuffed animals go naked these days? Just visit Dress Me station which includes tons of character clothing and Match Me technology which allows guests to see what's new and also suggest outfits.

Last by not least, it's time to visit the Name Me station. Here guests use a viewfinder that reveals all the attributes and personality traits within their character. A name is picked and a birth certificate, which even includes a photo of their character, is created.

Now it's time to head home... but not too quick! Visit the Take Me Home station which resembles a Build-A-Bear Workshop Cub Condo® to receive your membership and reward program details, along with the birth certificate you printed, and of course the Cub Condo carrying case for your character to ensure they're safe for their travels back home.

You never know so much went into building a stuffed animal did ya? Now you know. 

Build-A-Bear Workshop® will most likely move to a temporary space within the mall while renovations are completed. Construction will begin this Spring with a completion in Summer 2016.

 
Planned Rue 21 store grows in size

Rue21 will still be opening a new store at the Miller Hill Mall however the exact plans have changed a little since we last reported back in December about the planned opening at the Miller Hill Mall. At that time the Rue 21 location was to be constructed in the former spaces of a dollar store and Radio Shack. Well, plans change and let us tell you first and formost Duluthians you're going to benefit from it.

Rue 21 will no longer be locating in the spaces mentioned above as Radio Shack will in fact NOT be closing their Duluth location after last minute corporate decisions saved the location at the Miller Hill Mall from the chopping block. That means Rue 21 needed to find a new place to set up shop within the mall but the search didn't take long as Deb Shops recently close their Duluth location after the company went bankrupt leaving a prime space for Rue21 to call home.

Above: Location of the new Rue21 location at the Miller Hill Mall.

The original space Rue21 was to open in was just over 6,000 square feet with about 5,000 of that being devoted to sales space. The new space in which Rue21 will open will be roughly 7,100 square feet and include 6,400 square feet of sales space. If you're keeping track that's a 1,400 square foot increase in selling space equating to roughly the size of a Hot Topic location. So yes, it will in fact make a difference.

Rue21's new locaiton will take over an existing storage space to the left of Deb which for the last few years has been used as mall storage and at one time as a space for a ProActive kiosk. The mall will however receive a portion of space towards the back of the vacated Deb space that will be used most likely for mall storage.

Above: Floor plan for the new Rue21 store location at the Miller Hill Mall.

The Duluth location will still feature girls and guys clothing along with accessories. The store format will be a little easier to navigate though due to the additional square footage and more of the space will be able to be used due to the straight storefront instead of the zig-zag one that would have been present in the former design.

The store interior will be split into mainly two areas with guys on the left side and girls on the right side. Gentlemen we're sorry to inform you that you'll get about a third of the sales space that the ladies will get. But hey, it's the thought that counts right?

Above: Interior graphics for the various fitting room designs

The interior overall design will feature an industrial design vibe. Ceilings will be left exposed with industrial styled pendant lights along with track lighting. Walls will be covered with various wallpaper designs featuring young individuals at concerts, patterned designs, and an abandoned loft. Each fitting room has a themed design including the following; "Club 21", "Skater", "Runway Model", "Rock Star" and "Princess". Walls will feature mostly a dark color scheme with pops of green, yellow, teal, and pink added. 

Work will begin on the space in May with an opening likely by the end of summer just in time for back to school shopping. That's right kids, before school has even ended we're already thinking about when you head back. We apologize for reminding you if you're reading but still want to remind your parents that summer only last three months. You. Can. Do it.  

Above: Rue21 store front design

Justice to remodel Miller Hill Mall location

More news for the Miller Hill Mall. This time about a company sprucing up their space.

Justice, a retailer that offers clothing and accessories for girls ages 7-14, is planning on remodeling their location near the Food Court at the Miller Hill Mall within the next couple months. The company has launched an aggressive remodel campaign across the country in order to update its brand image. 

The store remodel will cost about $100,000 to complete and should take under two months to complete. It is likely that the store will set up a temporary shop within the mall and the soon to be vacant Deb Shops space is a perfect contender.

Above:  New Justice prototype store

Above: New Justice prototype store

Justice is operated under the Ascena Retail Group which may sound familiar to you but you might not be able to peg it. It was announced that dressbarn would acquire Justice in 2009. About two years after Dress Barn created the Ascena Retail Group which includes dressbarn, maurices, Lane Bryant,  Catherine's and of course Justice. All stores have a location in the Miller Hill Mall area.

The store remodel will bring the new prototype for Justice to the Miller Hill Mall. The overall design is much lighter, airy, and modern in its design elements. Customers can expect pops of bright colors throughout the store, creative light fixtures, and of course all the Justice clothing and accessories a girl could wish for.

Deb Shops closing Miller Hill Mall location

Deb Shops will be closing their Miller Hill Mall location in late February... that is if the merchandise lasts until then.

The closing is once again NOT related to poor sales at the Miller Hill Mall but rather due to a company wide bankruptcy that will result in the closure of ALL 337 Deb Shops locations nationwide. Deb Shops sold women's clothing and accessories under private labels and their own and catered to a large cliental.  The Duluth location also carried the Plus and Junior lines.

Deb Shops competition was Charlotte Russe, which opened a location about five years ago right next door, Wet Seal, which recently closed over 300 locations including their location at the Miller Hill Mall, and Rue21, which recently announced it will open a store at the Miller Hill Mall come this spring. Needless to say, the Miller Hill Mall might have been their worst nightmare competition wise.

While it is sad to see a tenant bid the mall farewell there is a silver lining. As we mentioned this closure is not due to poor sales at this location and that's a plus as it means the mall is doing well over all. As mentioned in our post "Miller Hill Mall: An outlook for 2015" that we posted this past week, the mall is currently in need of additional space for retailers.

The now closed Wet Seal location.

The now closed Wet Seal location.

Radio Shack and the retail space next door will be combined for a new Rue21 location to open this spring

Deb Shops occupied quite a large chunk of space in the JCPenney's wing. Their closure will result in the freeing of prime retail space within the mall and space that is large enough that it could be split in order to house two tenants. There also is a corridor to the left of the Deb space that could be absorbed for additional retail space if the need arises.

We'll see how things pan out after the closure of Deb next month and as always we'll keep you updated on new developments at the Miller Hill Mall and the rest of the Twin Ports right here at CDINDULUTH.

Rue21 opening Miller Hill Mall location

Rue21 plans to open their first Twin Ports location at the Miller Hill Mall this Spring. The speciality discount clothing retailer currently has 19 other stores in the state of Minnesota and over 1,100 stores within the United States.

The new store will take up 6,011 square feet of space and will combine two retail spaces into one. Rue21 will open next to the Sears mall entry in spaces that formerly housed "A Dollar" store and currently house a RadioShack location which will close after the holiday season. 

The Duluth store will be a Rue21 Etc. location meaning it will feature both the full Rue21 concept along with the RueGuy men's concept. The store footprint itself will be in the midsize range for Rue21 locations and will feature modern industrial decor with modern graphics. 

Rue21 Etc store front. (Image property of design:retail)

Rue21 is comparable to Charlotte Russe, Wetseal, American Eagle and Aeropostale, all which currently have locations within the Miller Hill Mall. The store sells both men and women's clothing along with accessories at some pretty low prices. Clothing is designed to appeal to 11-17 year olds who want to appear more mature and ultimately as if they are 21 years old... hence the 21 in the name. We personally think that more recently the company has switched to offering clothing geared more towards high schoolers. 

Construction on Rue21 is expected to begin in late January with an opening targeted for early Spring 2015.


 
 

Build A Bear Workshop to open October 10th

We first broke news that Build A Bear Workshop was coming to the Miller Hill Mall when CDINDULUTH was taking our very first steps as a development reporting community back in 2008. We continued to talk with corporate representatives on the location in Duluth including with Maxine Clark herself who happens to be the founder of the company. In July of 2012 we reported that plans had become official and in July of this year we reported that the opening would officially happen this October. Well folks, Build A Bear Workshop will officially throw open their doors to a children's paradise on October 10th at 10am

Build A Bear Workshop has been in the works for over six years and throughout that time the company has changed their planned location to various spaces within the mall. The permanent home for the company will be in the space that formerly housed Torrid which closed up shop last month. Torrid's store location closed due to underperforming sales about two years after their opening in 2012.

Above: Recent Build A Bear Workshop opening. Check out "Any Tots" review  here  (with pictures).

Above: Recent Build A Bear Workshop opening. Check out "Any Tots" review here (with pictures).

Work has started on outfitting the space now in order to make it into the iconic, brightly colored and whimsical space that Build A Bear Workshop is known for. We reported on the new prototype store design that the Duluth location will feature back in July (if you missed the article you can read it here). Not only will the Duluth location be top of the line in design but it will also probably be one of the most technologically savvy stores (besides an Apple store of course) that you'll see around. 

If you're interested in working for Build A Bear Workshop they are now officially hiring for the Miller Hill Mall location. For a sixth year in the row it was voted one of the top 100 companies to work for so we're assuming it's a pretty fun job. The Duluth location is currently hiring sales associates, part-time and full time assistant managers, and a store manager. Apply here if you're interested in working with children each and everyday to make an un-BEAR-ably cute friend. 

Let the countdown begin to creating your.. we mean your child's... perfect stuffed animal!