Construction, Lakeshore, and Retail

Westshore Mall to undergo $20M facelift

The ‘de-malling’ process will result in The Shops at Westshore.

May 8, 2015
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Westshore Mall
Westshore Mall will still feature approximately 350,000 square feet of space when the ‘de-malling’ process is completed. Photo by Rachel Weick

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) This summer Holland-based Westshore Mall will undergo a roughly $20 million, extensive “de-malling” process to adapt to the evolving lakeshore shopping market.

Westshore Mall Investors LLC, owner of Westshore Mall at 12331 James St., Holland, will officially break ground at 2 p.m., June 11, on an approximately $20 million de-malling and renovation project to turn the enclosed mall into an exterior-designed shopping center known as The Shops at Westshore.

Greg Erne, principal at Southfield-based VERSA Development, the parent company of Westshore Mall Investors, said the switch to an exterior-designed shopping center is in response to long-term demand drivers of shopping in the Holland market.

“This market has good shopping in it, but recently there has been a lack of good supply for retailers to locate with visibility and access,” said Erne. “Shopping malls are still very popular and they work, but this market is probably better served by more of an outdoor shopping center than an enclosed mall. It won’t be an underutilized shopping center on a big piece of frontage. It will be a really nice, well-maintained, fresh shopping center in the heart of the Holland shopping area on U.S. 31.”

The design premise will convert the mall into a shopping center similar to the redevelopment at Centerpointe Mall in Grand Rapids, according to Erne. The plan includes renovating the main building, constructing four new outbuildings in the parking lot space that will face U.S. 31, and creating pedestrian walkways and outdoor seating areas, according to Holland Planning Township Commission meeting minutes from Nov. 11, 2014.

“We are basically tearing off the west side of the mall and creating new buildings along U.S. 31 for small tenant space, so we are not losing a significant amount of square footage, but we are changing the format,” said Erne. “We are probably losing about 20,000 square feet in the mall, going from 370,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet.”

The entire project is anticipated to last approximately 18 months, with completion occurring in several phases, according to Erne. The first phase of construction will launch roughly the first week of June, with an official groundbreaking June 11.

The initial step includes “de-malling” the main building, building the new façade and completing parking lot improvements. The renovations are anticipated to be completed in November, and then the smaller outbuildings along U.S. 31 will be phased in over the course of the next year.

“Those buildings are brand-new, ground-up construction whereas the renovations are more straightforward,” said Erne. “The new investment will be about $20 million, not including what tenants will put into their space, and that could be another $5 million.”

The team for the project consists of: Exxel Engineering, a planning, engineering and surveying services company based in Grand Rapids; Rogvoy Architects PC, a full-service architectural firm located in Bingham Farms; and Grand Rapids-based C.D. Barnes Construction as the general contractor.

Upon completion, the new shopping center will have roughly 20 to 25 stores ranging from large department retailers to small businesses, according to Erne. Several of the existing key tenants — including Younkers, JC Penney, Dunham’s Sports, GNC and Buckle — will be retained, and the owners are in negotiations with a number of potential new stores.

“A number of tenants have actually left the market that were in the mall, but we are hopeful they will come back when we finish construction. For now we do have tenants, but we are hoping to release names of new tenants to the market over the course of the next 60 to 90 days,” said Erne. “We have some good activity, but we are not at a point where we can say anything without jeopardizing the deal.”

Westshore Mall Investors originally purchased the mall from Coastline Michigan LLC in 2012 for approximately $5.5 million, according to the Ottawa County assessment database. Prior to Westshore Mall Investors buying the property, the mall changed ownership a number of times, including two sheriff’s deed transactions between the Ottawa County Sheriff and LaSalle Bank National Association in 2005 for roughly $19 million, and Ottawa County Sheriff and Coastline Michigan LLC in 2010 for more than $7.8 million.

Westshore Mall was assessed at a taxable value of $6.25 million in 2004, before dropping to its lowest valuation in 2013 at roughly $1.56 million, and was valued at $1.58 million in 2014.

“It was always a very well-received, very well-occupied shopping mall. The market changed over time and it suffered a lot of poor ownership decisions in the past that caused it to not be able to retain the key tenants,” said Erne in reference to what prompted the new concept.

“The market evolved a little bit with the west side of Grand Rapids and the major shopping mall. The way people shop has evolved, as well.”

As the owners of the mall for more than two years, Erne said Westshore Mall Investors initially completed extensive renovations and operated Westshore Mall for about a year before it became apparent tenants in the market wanted something different.

“Thankfully, we are long-term owners of real estate so we bought it knowing we didn’t have to turn it around on day one,” said Erne. “We really took our time to analyze the market.

“What the tenants that were coming into the market wanted and what was lacking in the market really drove us to come up with the ‘de-malling’ plan.”

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