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Agent: Applebee’s departure a matter of lease, not location

By JACK WEATHERLY

County Line Road retail corridor lost another stalwart when Applebee’s Grill and Bar decided to leave early in the fall after more than 20 years at the intersection with Ridgewood Road.

But why that decision was made colors the vitality of the corridor, which has lost several major stores in the past few years.

Was it because the difficult ingress and egress at the intersection, as as some believe?

Right or wrong, the intersection has been said to be at least a contributing factor to the closing of several mainstays – Walgreen’s, Copeland’s restaurant and Sam’s Club in the past two years.

Others subscribe to what could be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy: that the County Line retail corridor has seen its best days.

In the case of Applebee’s, it was a “tenant-landlord fight,” said Jeff Speed, leasing agent for the property.

The restaurant’s revenue was equal to that of the Applebee’s on Lake Harbour Drive, a healthy $2.2 million, Speed said.

A call to Jonathan Gould, co-managing partner of New York City-based Stonemar Properties LLC, which owns North Regency Square, where the restaurant was located, was not returned.

A call was placed to DineEquity, the publicly traded owner of the Applebee’s chain, 99 percent of whose Applebee’s and International House of Pancakes restaurants are owned by franchisees.

Sam’s Club, which was located on the Jackson side of the street, closed in August after a replacement was built in Madison.

Best Buy closed its nearby store at the end of October.

The day after Best Buy announced its departure, Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber said he had contacted Costco about the soon-to-be-vacated space.

The city of Ridgeland was recently sued by residents of the neighborhoods near where Costco has said it wants to build a store in the proposed expansion of the Renaissance at Colony Park lifestyle mall.

On a possibly encouraging note for the County Line corridor, Tuesday Morning, which describes itself as an “upscale, deep discount” home furnishings chain, is moving into other quarters in same County Line Plaza.

The move is part of a redevelopment of the center, said Andy Goldblatt of Dallas-based Tuesday Morning.

A call to Brixmor Properties, owner of the center, was not immediately returned.

Northpark Mall, which was built in 1985 and holds down the eastern end of County Line, announced this month that it has added three tenants as it fights to maintain its market share after losing a number of prestige tenants to newer malls in recent years.

Korset, a women’s clothier, is one of the new stores. Its offerings range from evening wear to everyday styles “with a California flair.”

Another is Comfort Zone, which offers bedding accessories, from pillows to desks and lamps.

Hoping to make a splash – or rather a smash – in the 950,000-square-foot mall is SubZero Cream.

The frozen confection is made by using liquid nitrogen to freeze it quickly to produce an exceptionally smooth, or “smashed,” treat, according to the company.

Customers may choose a base – from custard to low-fat and yogurt options to lactose free, vegan and sugar free — and a flavor from 15 of them and can customize the flavor to their exact specifications. The menu also includes smoothies, shakes and pies.

About Jack Weatherly

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