The Christiana Fashion Center is a busy place as retailers and restaurants move into the power/lifestyle center operated by Allied Retail Properties.
The most recent opening will come Thrusday with off-price retailer Marshall’s/Home Goods, which will join Best Buy. Best Buy shut down two stores in the vicinity when it opened the Fashion Center store.
Allied also operates Concord Mall in north Wilmington and the nearby Christiana Town Center, which is anchored by a Boscov’s store.
Now going up is a Raymour & Flanigan furniture store. The East Coast chain has been expanding in an industry where going out of business sales are the norm.
The new prospects are in addition to recent announcements that Ted’s Montana Grill, Zoe’s Kitchen and Zoup! will take space at the center. Zoup! offers a soup and sandwich menu, with Ted’s Montana Grill bringing casual upscale offerings featuring bison raised at the vast ranch holdings of CNN founder Ted Turner. Zoup! is expected to open any day and Ted’s plans to open in November.
Zoup! offers a soup and sandwich menu, with Ted’s Montana Grill bringing casual upscale offerings featuring bison raised at the vast ranch holdings of CNN founder Ted Turner.
The latest announcement came when Shake Shack confirmed it will open its upscale burger joint in early 2017. Shake Shack has been known for having lines out the door when a new location opens.
Zoe’s, which is now open, has another location near the Delaware line in Glen Mills, PA. The restaurant features Mediterranean food, often on pita bread.
A site map of the center shows Chili’s, which closed a location near the mall a few months ago, building a free-standing location at the site. Other retailers were penciled in at the center, but have been removed in the past several months.
Already open are Nordstrom and Saks off-price locations. Work is under way for Talbot’s and Layne Bryant stores. Now open is VisionWorks, a discount optical store. Another retailer already open is Destination XL, a big and tall men’s store
The first initial retailers were REI (an upscale outdoors store), The Container Store, DSW Shoes, Ulta cosmetics and big box jeweler Jared.
Not penciled in is a Whole Foods, Wegmans or another upscale grocer. Wegmans had already ruled out a store in the immediate future after opening a location across the line in Glen Mills, PA.
The Fashion Center, which will have more than a half a million square feet when built out, is now reaching critical mass, a factor that may tempt some mall retailers to move across the street when leases expire. Christiana mall has about 1.3 million square feet.
The General Growth Properties mall has blue chip retailers like the Apple Store, along with one of the highest sales per square foot figures in the nation. Rents are not cheap and retailers that do not make the grade in sales figures get the boot.
The mall did undergo an expansion a few years ago that added restaurants at outside entrances as well as a Cinemark movie theater and the popular Cabela’s sporting goods chain on its boundary. Vacancies remain rare but do pop up with the many retailer bankruptcies that have taken place.
Lifestyle centers have been gaining popularity and no new enclosed malls are expected to be built in this region.
A reflection of the trend was the Brandywine Town Center, in north Wilmington, which hoped to lure big name retailers with an enclosed mall, but ended up with a grab-bag of retailers with outside entrances.
Space that had been targeted for retail has been used for offices.
Meanwhile, enclosed mall anchor giants like Macy’s are struggling with a changing retail climate and closing stores at lower traffic locations.
Macy’s earlier announced plans to close 100 marginally profitable stores. The company plans to focus on its top-performing stores and its online operations.
One question mark for the Christiana Mall area is vehicular traffic, with back-ups starting to show up on the weekends, even during non-holiday periods. There are also plans afoot to develop the neighboring Cavaliers Country Club property. That proposal has been met by a save the course golf campaign.