Mall at Robinson polishing itself up, adding tenants

| Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

The Mall at Robinson said Wednesday it will add stores and remodel common areas while 25 of its tenants freshen up with a whole new look, or at least new paint and carpet.

The mall owned by Forest City Enterprises Inc. marked its 10-year anniversary in October. Mall officials asked tenants to upgrade after a decade at their own expense, said Beth Edwards, general manager, and, "Most of them do want to provide their latest look."

As to new stores, The Limited will open at the mall by Nov. 1, Smart Toys will open in April and a Green Spa massage center, by the end of March.

The most dramatic change may be Express' move to a larger space, with the addition of men's clothing, Edwards said. Buckle and American Eagle Outfitters will remodel to their newest store concepts, and work will be staggered through the year so that not too many stores will be under construction at once. Some retailers may move temporarily.

The Mall at Robinson also will replace carpet and otherwise upgrade common areas. Installation of Wi-Fi access to the Internet was completed in the last three weeks, she said.

Established malls need to switch it up occasionally. "For a mall that has been around about a decade or so, you want to keep it exciting or shoppers will go somewhere else" such as newer centers, said Audrey Guskey, marketing professor at Duquesne University.

"It pays for stores to be constantly upgrading. The atmosphere is very important." The growing Settlers Ridge retail complex that opened three years ago is about a mile from the mall.

Edwards said she doesn't know much Forest City is investing in upgrades to The Mall at Robinson. The center's tax assessment was reduced last year from $104.7 million to $93.5 million.

And Cleveland-based Forest City said this month that while it has no immediate plans to divest properties in Pittsburgh, it plans to focus on rental properties in seven cities that don't include Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

Paige Beal, marketing professor at Point Park University, said it's standard for malls to stipulate that stores be upgraded every 10 to 15 years. "It's not in the mall's best interests to have a store become obsolete or old-looking," she said.

Edwards said the mall, 96 percent occupied, also is looking to diversify its store mix with options for professionals and other, more mature shoppers -- in addition to keeping stores that appeal to teens and young families.


Additional Information:

The Mall at Robinson

Tenants: Dick's Sporting Goods, J.C. Penney, Macy's and Sears are anchors; more than 120 other stores.

Moving in: Green Spa massage center, The Limited, Smart Toys.

Renovating: Aeropostale, American Commodore, American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, Belongings (added Pandora jewelry), Buckle, Cache, Charlotte Russe, Claire's, Dairy Queen/Orange Julius, Express (adding men's clothing), Freedom Wireless, Gap, Hat World (changing to Lids), Hot Topic, Justice, Kay Jewelers (expanding), Mastercuts, Morini, Motherhood Maternity, Pacific Sunwear, Pro Image, Starbucks Coffee, Wet Seal, Yankee Candle.

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