Centerpointe Gets New Style

July 22, 2007
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The Centerpointe Mall is gearing up for a major renovation next year that will convert much of the 28th Street property into a shopping center similar in design to the lifestyle centers popular among high-end retailers.

Originally opened as Eastbrook Mall in 1967, Lormax Stern Development Co. acquired the then-ailing property in 2000 and renovated the 575,000-square-foot shopping center into Centerpointe Mall, which today has 750,000 square feet of retail space. It has been managed by General Growth Properties since February 2006.

“Now we have an opportunity with some of the things that are taking place in the market to take advantage of an ideal location and reposition some of the stores,” said Christopher Brochert, a partner with Lormax Stern in Farmington Hills. “There is a demand for lifestyle centers in the marketplace right now. Bottom line, there is a need for it.”

That need has attracted a half-dozen proposed developments in Kent County alone in the past two years, including two others on East Beltline — at Knapp Street and at 3 Mile Road, at the new Metro Health Village, and additional projects in Walker and Cascade Township. While a late arrival, the Centerpointe Mall project is further along than all but Metro Health Village — it received approval from the city of Grand Rapids this summer and will begin construction in March 2008.

The initial phase of the project involves demolition of the 180,000-square-foot, three-floor Klingman’s Furniture store on the southwest corner of the mall to make way for an estimated 80,000 square feet of new retail. The Linens-N-Things store on the southeast corner of the mall will be demolished later to make room for additional parking. These two stores and others will be repositioned to new spaces within the mall.

As part of the lifestyle model concept, all of the stores will be oriented outward, as the anchor stores are currently. In a traditional sense, the mall will cease to exist.

“We’re not going to have an interior mall anymore,” said Brochert. “It will look from the street like a downtown area with enclosed walkways.”

Smaller stores and new tenants will be found in a separate structure on the south side of the building. Plans currently call for 14 spaces in a 60,000-square-foot faux “main street” on what is now part of the parking lot. Final plans could have the structure as large as 100,000 square feet.

“We’re basically turning the whole mall inside out,” said Centerpointe Marketing Manager Danielle Taylor. “It’s going to draw the small shops out into the open.”

While Centerpointe has been successful with midsize retailers such as Nordstrom Rack, Steve & Barry’s and Chuck E. Cheese, smaller tenants have struggled. The new model will provide greater visibility and traffic to these businesses.

“What we’ve found is that in an enclosed mall, such as Woodland Mall (just west of Centerpointe on 28th Street), you’ve got JC Penney, Macy’s and Sears to draw people into the center,” Brochert said. “The small tenants feed off that traffic. You’re not going to generate that kind of traffic with a Dunham’s Sporting Goods or a T.J. Maxx.”

Visser Brothers Inc. is the contractor for the renovation. Visser Brothers was the previous owner of Eastbrook Mall, and the contractor for Centerpointe’s original renovation, which involved the demolition of the former Steketee’s store to make way for Nordstrom Rack. It will have been 10 years since the original renovation when the current project is complete.

According to Taylor, while the facility will retain the Centerpointe name, there is a distinct possibility that it will drop “mall” in favor of a name more suiting its intended brand.  CQ

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