WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- Bass Pro Shops will close its Forest Fair Mall Store by 2015 in favor of a new store in West Chester.
“Our new store will enable us to better serve the region’s many sportsmen and women,” said company founder Johnny Morris. “Our current location has served us very well for the last 14 years, but we now look forward to building a newer, bigger store to better serve the region’s outdoor enthusiasts.”
The new store at I-75 and Union Center Boulevard will be a 150,000-square-foot facility with an Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill, a nautical-themed restaurant and bowling alley that features a menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers.
Bass Pro Shops is known as a retail destination where the average shopper stays two and a half hours and drives an average distance of more than 50 miles. The company has 79 stores, expected to draw 116 million people this year.
The Forest Fair store has been rumored for closure for months as the mall struggles with an owner whose redevelopment plans have stalled. Earlier this week, Forest Park city officials told WCPO they were hoping Bass Pro would renew its lease in the region's largest shopping center.
“My discussions with them were that they would consider staying beyond the lease term if conditions improved," said Forest Park Economic Development Director Paul Brehm. "I think they’re like us. Everybody would like to see the pace pick up."
Forest Fair Mall had a troubled history from the time it opened in 1989 with 200 stores and four retail anchors. It had undergone multiple attempts at revival before an investment affiliate of World Properties Inc. of New York acquired the property in 2009.
Developer Kerry Roell has been trying to build an amateur sports complex in the former Bigg’s store at Forest Fair, but he said the owner has been unable to obtain a clear title to the property because taxes and service payments are still owed on the property.
“That bar they opened up didn’t stay open a month,” he said. “The air conditioner broke and the owner wouldn’t pay his rent.”
Nevertheless, Roell said he remains interested in building a $12 million sports facility at Forest Fair. The facility would include three hockey rinks, 12 volleyball courts and indoor batting cages. Roell said he would proceed with the project even if Bass Pro Shops closes its Forest Fair location.