CINCINNATI - Tri-County Mall is floating a new redevelopment plan for the region’s oldest enclosed shopping center, including the demolition of a vacant Dillard’s store to make way for an upscale dine-in theater.
“They’re trying to be adaptive to the market,” said David Okum, vice chairman of the Springdale Planning Commission, which was briefed on the changes in March.
“They said they had two cinemas that were bidding for the project,” Okum added. “They said it’s a new age cinema with the dining and reclining seats.”
Tri-County has proposed several new uses since 2013, when Singapore-based real estate investors paid $45 million to buy the property out of foreclosure. The 1.3 million square foot mall was more than 30 percent vacant when SingHaiyi Group bought it.
Four tenants filled newly constructed outlot buildings along Princeton Pike last year and the mall signed a family-owned Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos, in December. But initial plans for a new hotel on the north end of the property and a 2016 bid to bring Kohl’ls to the property have failed to materialize.
“I think they’re working at getting it right,” said Okum, president and co-owner of Platinum Restoration in Fairfield. “Mall shopping is not as popular as it used to be.”
Tri-County Mall lost one of its three retail anchors when Dillard’s closed in October 2013. The Limited closed its Tri-County and Liberty Center stores late last year. Another anchor, Macy's Inc., has so far spared Cincinnati locations in a 100-store closure plan announced last August. But it's yet to name 36 of the sites to be shuttered. A third anchor, Sears, was recently named the U.S. retailer most likely to default on its debt by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
At the Springdale Planning Commission in March, Okum said the mall described a new leasing plan that involves the recruitment of “mini-majors,” or smaller retail anchors that will have storefronts facing west along Princeton Pike.
"They’re going in the right direction," Okum said. "People are destination-driven. They want to go to the place they want to go to and get the heck out."
Northgate Mall used a similar strategy to recruit tenants like Ulta Beauty, Marshall’s and Designer Shoe Warehouse to the Colerain Township property.
Tri-County General Manager Renee Bell came from Northgate. So did Melissa Ruther and Mary Bresnahan, retail brokers from CBRE Group Inc., who’ve been working to attract tenants at Tri-County for more than three years.
Bell, Ruther and Bresnahan could not immediately be reached for comment.