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Woodland Mall shows off $100M renovation, new Von Maur department store

Shoppers at Woodland Mall have plenty new to see these days.

Two years after workers demolished the former Sears store that once anchored the mall, Woodland officials on Thursday showed off a $100 million renovation project that replaces the space once occupied by the iconic retailer.

The new wing is anchored by a Von Maur department store, and includes other retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Paddle North, Made in Michigan, Black Rock Bar and Grill and a renovated Williams Sonoma store.

Cecily McCabe, the mall’s marketing director, said the improvements are designed to ensure that Woodland remains relevant and does not “end up like other malls that are dying.” At a time when shoppers are increasingly turning to online retailers such as Amazon, she said malls like Woodland must reinvest in themselves to create an environment that cannot be replicated online.

“We can all shop online by ourselves,” she said.

“But the mall is really a place to come and have an experience. A lot of these retailers have learned that their shoppers do want a hands-on experience. They want to come and not only shop but also have classes and demonstrations and learn something new.”

Several of the new retailers are hosting a grand opening celebration on Saturday. The new additions to Woodland come on the heels of an REI outdoor gear and apparel store that opened near the mall earlier this year. And there’s more to come: A Cheesecake Factory restaurant is slated to open on Nov. 5, and McCabe said Woodland will announce two new stores “shortly.”

“Grand Rapids as a whole, in retail, we’re the best kept secret,” McCabe said. “We’ve got fantastic jobs here. Our economy is growing. So there’s a lot of affluent customers that are looking for upscale shopping.”

Sears, Roebuck & Co. was the first department store to sign a lease with Woodland Mall’s developers in 1965. Built for $20 million by mega-developer Alfred Taubman, the mall opened in March 1968. Sears was among the largest stores at the mall, totaling 313,000 square feet.

Woodland, which is now owned by PREIT, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment trust specializing in malls, announced in 2017 it would demolish the department store. The struggling retailer, which also operates Kmart, filed for bankruptcy in October 2018.

In place of Sears, workers built a new wing for the mall that is anchored by the 90,000-square-feet Von Maur department store. The upscale, family-owned department store chain is based in Davenport, Iowa.

“We felt that the Grand Rapids market overall was very underserved from a department store standpoint and really felt that we could bring something different to the community,” said Melody Wright, Von Maur’s chief operating officer.

She said the department store offers “very, very special unique items but at the same time you’re going to be able to find some of the things that are just more staples for someone’s wardrobe.”

Examples of brands carried by Von Maur that shoppers won’t find at many other retailers include Fat Face, Mint Velvet and Masai. Those brands are based in the United Kingdom, Wright said.

In addition to the retailers, one of Woodland’s new offerings is Black Rock Bar and Grill. The Hartland, Michigan-based chain specializes in steaks and seafood that customers cook themselves on a 755-degree volcanic stone tablet.

Brandon Mattucci, the restaurant’s assistant general manager, said it offers a unique, interactive dining experience.

“It’s a completely different experience,” he said. “It’s the steak on the stone, so your first piece is going to be just as hot and just as fresh as your last piece.”

 

Posted By: mlive on October 10, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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