Partridge Creek draws new tenants as malls rebound from pandemic
Posted By: The Detroit News on January 18, 2024. For more information, please click here to read the source article
William Dabish was looking for a location to open a new Powerhouse Gym and settled on a former anchor space at The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township. The draw? The shopping center’s location along busy Hall Road.
“The traffic here is really high and the demographics are more than any gym we have in Michigan,” Dabish said.
When it opens in 2025, the workout facility will cover 120,000 square feet and offer a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool, basketball court, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a spin room and a dry sauna.
The business is among the new additions to the 607,000-square-foot Mall at Partridge Creek. After years of financial instability, it appears the tide is turning for the Macomb County shopping center. In addition to the Powerhouse Gym, the open-air mall announced this past fall that it was expanding its more than 80-store roster with several new businesses, most expected to open in 2024.
Among the new businesses are gift and accessories retailer Box Lunch and athletic shoe and clothing seller JD Sports, which opened last year, and a women’s clothing store, Windsor, which opened last week. Furniture retailer Lovesac is expected to arrive in late February and indoor playground Kids Empire during the summer.
It’s an encouraging sign for the mall to have so many newly signed leases, said Kees Janeway, a retail mall expert and managing partner at Iconic Real Estate in Detroit.
“The landlord’s responsibility is to keep the property relevant,” he said. “How you drive sales for all your tenants is keeping those storefronts filled and creating an atmosphere where shoppers want to go. I think Partridge Creek, in particular, Hall Road is a phenomenal corridor. That high-speed road that goes east to west — it gives those businesses a huge draw in terms of geography. And by mixing up the tenant base, you create more reasons for them to stop there and spend their money.”
The Mall at Partridge Creek has had to contend with two large empty anchor spaces after losing two department stores: Carson’s in 2018 and Nordstrom in 2019.
The mall, owned by Florida-based Starwood Capital Group, went into receivership in 2021 after defaulting in 2019 on its mortgage that includes three other properties in other states. The receivership happened amid a global pandemic and the growth of online shopping.
According to Coresight Research, malls have been rebuilding occupancy rates since the pandemic.
There was moderate retail growth for much of 2023, as some would-be shoppers stayed home, concerned about economic challenges such as inflation, according to Placer.ai, which tracks retail foot traffic. Visits to indoor malls, outlet malls and open-air lifestyle centers grew in early 2023 and then remained relatively steady.
Janeway said it can be a challenge to fill large anchor spaces at malls. A large user, such as a gym, can be the answer.
“I think we’re seeing more and more interesting uses of these things, like more of these pickleball facilities, or gyms … or Urban Air,” he said. “So (taking) these like attraction-based, large-format spaces and repurposing. Without tearing them down, what can you do with them?
“There’s the self-storage example. It’s not very exciting, but that’s one route,” Janeway said. “And with the malls and sort of larger developments, they’ve got lots of potential encumbrances, exclusive agreements that they have to abide by. So it can be really challenging to fill these spaces. And sometimes, gyms just make sense.”
Melissa Morang, general manager for the mall, said that since Spinoso Real Estate Management Group took over management in 2021, it has done a good job marketing the property. Morang did not share mall occupancy figures.
“Occupancy is doing really well at Partridge Creek … with all our new stores opening and certainly with our leasing team talking to multiple opportunities coming in this year as well,” she said. “So we are looking forward to a successful year right now.”
JD Sports, which recently acquired Finish Line, is among the recent stores to arrive at the mall. Greg Grambell, the district manager for JD Sports, said the company had been looking for the past couple of years to move to Partridge Creek from Lakeside Mall, which announced in late 2022 that it would transition to a mixed-use development called Lakeside Town Center.
“When we had the opportunity to kind of get in there and move away from Lakeside, we jumped on it,” Grambell said. “We opened up there in October, about mid-October, and we’ve seen a major lift in business even in our infancy in this location.”
Grambell said that they’ve seen some repeat customers from Lakeside Mall but have also developed a new customer base since opening in the new location. The holiday season went well financially for the company at Partridge Creek, he said.
“It was one of my top five performing locations in the entire state. …” he said. “We were brand new in the middle of October in a mall that we’ve never been in, and it performed as one of my top-performing stores in the entire market. I really do think the future is very bright for us there.”
Grambell said he is excited about the upcoming opening of Powerhouse Gym.
“It’s somewhere where our clientele is going to be frequenting from to come get their workout attire, hopefully,” he said.
Powerhouse Gym will occupy the space formerly housing Carson’s, which was known as Parisian when the mall opened in 2007. Demolition work is underway inside the former department store space.
Dabish said the new location will allow the gym to offer all of the amenities the owners want to incorporate in a space almost twice the size of their largest locations in Novi and Northville. He said after they opened the gym in Novi, it brought 2,000 people to the area daily. He expects a similar draw for Partridge Creek.
“For a lot of people, the gym is their training and their social life,” he said. “So they’ll go, ‘I’ll grab lunch, have dinner, breakfast after or before we train,’ etc. So it brings a lot of traffic to the center.”
At Trollbeads, store manager Melissa Clark said she’s noticed new tenants moving into the mall.
“I’m always happy when we have stores coming in because any shopper who sees empty stores, you start to have a different view of the mall,” she said. “So I’m really glad that we’re filling some of these empty spaces and especially getting one of those anchors filled in is great because people are going to come to the mall. And anything that’s going to increase traffic, various new stores and new draws I think is awesome. And it’s about time, so I’m excited for it.”
Clark said the mall is starting a discount program for employees, and she plans to become better acquainted with the new stores.
“I’m going to be going around to all those new stores and introduce myself,” she said. “So, for the next few weeks, I’m hoping to build some relationships and get some collaborations going.”
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