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New Mall Spurs Retail Buildup
MUSKEGON — The new Lakes Mall is generating a flurry of spin-off developments, as developers and retailers position themselves for a piece of the retail dollar that will no longer stray to other retail centers in West Michigan.
Strip malls and national retail stores are planned or proposed on acreage surrounding the Lakes Mall, producing an emerging retail hub around the Harvey Street and Sternburg Road corridor — an area that’s been dubbed “the hot corner.”
“It’s very hot,” said Patricia Strum, vice president for communications for The Westwood Group, a Muskegon commercial real estate development that’s planning The Lakes Crossing strip mall across the street from the Lakes Mall. “There’s a lot of land out there.”
The mall, which will accompany the Lakeshore Marketplace outlet center and a Menard’s home-improvement store on the corner when it opens Aug. 15, is creating a “major retail and commerce center” along the corridor that will draw shoppers who now travel 30 miles or more to Holland or Grand Rapids. That, in turn, will keep and attract more retail spending locally and spur new development in an area that has long been considered as lacking enough retail offerings, Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Morat-Larsen said.
“There’s room for everybody out there,” Morat-Larsen said. “We’re going to capture those retail dollars and keep them here on the Lakeshore.”
Signs of the retail buildup are visible up and down Sternburg Road and Harvey Street around the Lakes Mall.
Meijer Inc. and McDonald’s are planning new stores to the north of the mall, while a 792-unit condominium project is planned to the south. Across Harvey Street, national electronics retailer Best Buy is building a store next to Menard’s.
The Westwood Group hopes to begin work on The Lakes Crossing strip mall by late summer, CEO Mike Bowen said. The development would consist of 150,000 square feet or retail space, four additional lots on the perimeter of the 22-acre site, and a hotel, Bowen said.
To the west, across U.S. 31, a retail development known as The Pointes is planned for acreage on both sides of Sternburg Road at Old Grand Haven Road. Developer Greg Cooke, of Signature Properties in North Muskegon, hopes to sign tenants for the development within the next month.
Many more retail projects are likely in the general vicinity of the Lakes Mall. Horizon Group Properties Inc., the Muskegon real estate firm that developed the Lakeshore Marketplace in the late 1990s, owns and is selling several parcels near the mall.
Interest in the Horizon Group properties has been strong, said Marlon Stone, director of community center/periphery leasing for Horizon. The decision by the Lakes Mall’s developer, CBL & Associates Properties, to build in Muskegon provided the impetus for many retailers to enter the market, Stone said.
“You can never underestimate the power of a regional mall,” Stone said. “A number of retailers who were on the fence with Muskegon are finally coming in.”
Horizon hopes to attract buyers for the parcels that will develop uses that are “not exactly just retail,” perhaps a string of automotive dealerships or a sports and entertainment center, Stone said.
The spin-off development surrounding the Lakes Mall mirrors what occurred in Holland following the 1988 opening of the Westshore Mall and Horizon Outlet Center at U.S. 31 and James Street. Many national retail chains were soon to follow, triggering a retail buildup that continues today.
The same phenomenon is occurring in Grandville around the RiverTown Crossings Mall that opened in late 1999.
Such peripheral developments are natural, said Paul Lane, chairman of the Marketing Department at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman School of Business. A regional mall such as Lakes, Westshore or RiverTown draws “recreational shoppers” who tend to spend an entire afternoon or evening shopping, Lane said.
Retailers build near a regional mall in order to lure some of the retail traffic to their stores, resulting in a rapid retail buildup in the area, Lane said.
“It’s a logical extension to surround that with other retailers,” he said. “If you’re drawing those people, it makes all sorts of sense for that to be the place for other retailers to go.”
Keeping retail spending in Muskegon and the accompanying retail development is exactly what the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL envisioned when it decided to build the Lakes Mall, said Michael Lebovitz, CBL’s senior vice president of mall development. Rather than viewing the other retail developments as competition, Lebovitz sees them as complementing what the Lakes Mall will offer.
“The more, the merrier,” he said. “That is the key to successful retail and development — clustering.”