By JACK WEATHERLY
The official plans had not been made public, but leasing agents reached out in advance on Tuesday to say Northpark Mall in Ridgeland will undergo a $50 million upgrade.
Brooks Corr of Retail Specialists LLC of Birmingham told the Mississippi Business Journal that work on the 958,000-square foot mall on County Line Road will begin in the first quarter.
Najla Kayyem of Pacific Retail Partners of El Segundo, Calif. said Tuesday the $50 million figure is not correct but did not say how far off it is, adding that the company is “pretty close” to making an announcement.
It was close.
On Wednesday, Pacific Retail confirmed in a release that the work will indeed begin in the first quarter. The “multimillion-dollar” renovation will encompass a comprehensive redevelopment of the center including; entrances, dining area, children’s play area, restrooms, interior and exterior landscaping, furniture, fixtures, lighting and common areas.
Gensler Architects, based in Los Angeles, will lead architectural and design efforts with Unified Construction serving as the general contractor.
“These renovations provide a new atmosphere, modern design, thoughtful options for families, and a place to create memories through experiences that go beyond shopping,” said Gary Karl, chief operating officer of Pacific Retail.
“The renovation is the first step in repositioning one of Mississippi’s largest commercial destinations.,” The release said. “People will experience architectural upgrades merging the region’s distinct Southern character with timeless, modern design. The stunning new look will combine clean modern glass, steel and natural light with the warmth of woods and subtle floral nuances. The remodeled Northpark will deliver a mix of both traditional and new, with a curated experience for guests and community members”
Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said in a prepared statement: “We’ve been working with Northpark leadership for years to reinvest in the property. We are anxiously awaiting the designs and look forward to working with them on ensuring the expectations of our community are exceeded.”
Karl added: “Investing in Northpark and this strong community benefits everyone. The renovations and added amenities will provide an improved experience, for both our retailers and community. The fresh dining venues, children’s interactive play experience and family lounge create a stylish and warm, family-friendly gathering hub for Ridgeland.”
Karl continued, “This renovation is part of the longer term overall redevelopment of the property as we continue to look at filling a deficit in entertainment options in the tri-county area, as well as new local and national dining experiences and the right curated mix of retailers to fit the needs of this community.”
Northpark will remain open throughout the redevelopment with a scheduled completion of the work for late 2018, prior to holiday season.
Pacific Retail bought the mall built in 1984 from Simon Properties in September 2016.
Kayyem said in June that Pacific Retail would reveal its plans in July.
Northpark, which last underwent a major renovation in 1998, has lost prestigious tenants to newer malls and other centers in the area.
Enclosed malls in general have a bleak future, according to experts, such as Credit Suisse, which predicted earlier this year that within five years 25 percent of them would be closed.
Jan Kniffen, chief executive of J. Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises LLC, an equity research and financial consulting firm for the retail sector, told the Journal in June that of the number of U.S. malls, between 1,000 and 1,200, about 400 would be either closed or restructured by 2030.
Kniffen said that mall foot traffic is dropping by 6 to 8 percent a year.
An alternative to closing will be to reinvent them, he said.
“What everyone wants to do is make their shopping malls more experiential. You want to put things in [them] that can’t be done on the Internet,” ranging from hair salons to restaurants to “sky-diving tubes.”
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