Posted: 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013

CONTINUING COVERAGE: LOCAL BUSINESS

New Towne Mall owners purchase Elder-Beerman property



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New Towne Mall owners purchase Elder-Beerman property photo
RICK McCRABB/STAFF
SA Mary Ohio, LLC, the California-based investment group that purchased the Towne Mall last year, recently bought the Elder-Beerman property for $1,250,000, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office.

By Rick McCrabb

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN —

The owners of the Towne Mall said they recently acquired the “last piece of the puzzle” that will allow them to implement their redevelopment project.

SA Mary Ohio, LLC, the California-based company that bought the mall 11 months ago, purchased the Elder-Beerman property last month for $1.25 million, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office. Elder-Beerman, which is owned by The Bon Ton, is one of the mall’s two anchor stores and will continue to do business there.

George Ragheb, one of the group’s owners, said the purchase of the Elder-Beerman property “completes the symphony, a beautiful piece of music.” He said the owners are negotiating with potential engineers and construction companies that will renovate the 36-year-old, 465,451-square-foot Towne Mall located in the city’s East End just off Interstate 75.

And by the end of the year, just 13 months after the property was purchased, Ragheb said four “major tenants” will be announced that will be located in the former Dillard’s property and the outlots that will be built.

“This will change the dynamics,” said Ragheb, who refused to name the potential businesses. “We are very excited about this project.”

The group has spent $3.3 million so far purchasing the mall and other properties. They spent $850,000 on the mall, $1.2 million on Dillard’s and $1.25 million on Elder-Beerman, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office. The land and building were valued at $9.48 million, the auditor’s office said.

Ragheb said eventually the Towne Mall will be renamed. The two possibilities: Middletown Galleria or Towne Mall Galleria.

Since the Towne Mall, once deemed “a dead mall,” was sold on Oct. 16, 2012, Trisha Hale, the general manager, said 11 tenants have signed leases at the Towne Mall, and only one business, Dunham Sports, has left.

“We made promises and we have kept our promises,” Ragheb said Tuesday afternoon.

Towne Mall is the city’s “front door” and Middletown Economic Development Director Denise Hamet said after the renovations are made, “it’s going to look sharp.”

“We have a new owner that’s very vested in this project,” she has said. “They’re ready to do what it takes to make this mall a very vital part of the city.”

Hale called the new stores, which include retail and restaurants, “wonderful additions” and said the mall eventually will become the “focal point of the community and a destination for the entire area.”

A re-imagined Towne Mall will have to compete for shoppers with several newer retail establishments along the I-75 corridor, including Steiner + Associates’ $300 million mega shopping center in Liberty Twp., the Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe and the Austin Landing open-air shopping center in Miami Twp. And area mainstays such as the Dayton Mall, Tri-County Mall and Bridgewater Falls will also be part of the retail fray.

Tonya Smith, 58, of Monroe, who has shopped at the Towne Mall for years, hopes the mall can “return to its glory.”

“This used to be ‘the place to come,’” she said while walking in the parking lot. “Then it became a ghost town. It seems to be making a slow come back.”

Ragheb also said a short-term contract has been signed with Halloween City, which will open for a few months in the former Dillard’s property. He said the company will generate “lots of activity” during the Halloween season in September, October and early November.

While Ragheb admitted the Halloween store would only be a “short-term” tenant, it’s “a step in the right direction.”

Tim Kellis, store manager of A.L.M. Team Sports, which opened in April, said he was “very excited” about the progress he has witnessed at the mall. He said business has been “pretty good” and is picking up as football season approaches.

Kellis said he was surprised that anchor stores aren’t scheduled to open before the Christmas shopping rush.


NEW STORES AT TOWNE MALL

Since SA Mary Ohio, LLC purchased the Towne Mall nearly 11 months ago, 11 stores have signed leases and only one, Dunham Sports, has left the property.

Here is an alphabetical list of the new stores:

All About You Catering

ALM Team Sports

C’est Chic Paris

Gameland

Home Connection

Ice Ice Smoothie

Miss Selby’s Soap & Such

My Gadget Solutions

Splattered Platter

Wigs For A Change

Yanni’s Greek Gyros

SOURCE: Towne Mall

 
 

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