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North Hills Village returning to form

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005

Nearly 20 years after J.J. Gumberg Co. purchased and enclosed North Hills Village Mall, work is under way to return it to a strip mall.

The mall was built in 1956 as a strip shopping center. Gumberg took it over in 1986.

"Overall, as a mall it's tough to compete with Ross Park right across the street," Gumberg assistant marketing director Jill Moreman said. "As far as business-wise, it will do better as a strip center."

The mall's center court, where Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny once captivated children, will become part of a larger Burlington Coat Factory store, Moreman said.

With interior and facade work costing about $225,000, the new 88,000-square-foot store will be about 18,000 square feet larger than Burlington's existing space at the mall, according to a building permit application filed with Ross.

The size of the mall, which has 616,460 square feet of gross leasable area, will not change, Moreman said. She declined to note details on other changes planned for the mall.

Moreman could not say when the new Burlington store would be finished. All mall stores are expected to remain open during the work.

Besides Burlington and Kohl's, the mall's anchor stores are Shop 'n Save, Best Buy and Staples.

Out-parcels include Taco Bell, Applebee's, Duro Cleaners and Millennium Oriental Buffet. The mall includes 10 other smaller stores.

Patricia Duker, a spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York City, said there has been a trend in the industry for enclosed malls to be redeveloped into open-air centers. Most malls are strip malls, she said.

The anchor tenants at North Hills Village, such as Kohl's, are more commonly found in open-air centers, Duker said. She warns that such a change must be made carefully.

"Every owner and developer has their own strategies for what will be the best format for an area," Duker said. "Ultimately, it's the consumers who are going to be the ones who decide if the format works or doesn't work."

Moreman could not say when the new Burlington store would be finished. All mall stores will remain open during the work.

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