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Changes coming to Concord Mall

Delaware Public Media

Concord Mall, struggling to attract shoppers and marquee retailers, is getting a complete makeover.

“We’re reimagining the mall’s format, tenant mix, and overall look and energy,” said Jim Oeste, vice president of Real Estate for Allied Retail Properties. “We’re very excited about what the future has in store.”

Concord is following a trend of reinventing retail, including the successful transformation of Christiana Mall, which was reimagined into a regional lifestyle center that combines retail, restaurants and entertainment.

While he declined to reveal detailed plans, Oeste said Allied has embraced changing formats and consumer patterns and looks forward to unveiling a new visions for Concord Mall over the next few years.

“The planning and execution process of such a venture can be a timely one, and while we can’t speak to specifics in relation to the timeline or release plans yet, we want the community to know we are dedicated to, and very passionate about infusing a modern look and feel into this property that will excite our shoppers,” he said. “We are honored to be a part of this community and are truly grateful for all of the support we’ve received these past 20 years.”

Transformations at other malls recently have included such options as luxury apartments, a designated row of restaurants, boutique shops, entertainment options, and non-traditional tenants, such as spas and gourmet grocers.

Some Concord Mall shoppers Delaware Public Media spoke to have their own ideas of what a new version of the mall should include.

Roi Barnard of Wilmington would like to see a pragmatic addition to the lineup at Concord.

“I always appreciate a hardware store, like ACE,” he said.

Jeanette Price Zipf of North Wilmington shops for clothes at Concord and has been sad to see several clothing shops move.

“I am a tactile shopper,” she says. “I need to see and feel and try on everything before I buy.”

Her wish list includes new-to-the-market clothing stores.

“I think if the owners of Concord could bring in those unique stores shoppers would be less inclined to go to Christiana Mall, which I think is a nightmare to navigate.”

Concord Mall opened its first phase on Route 202 in North Wilmington in 1965, when the mall was the dominant retail model in the United States. The last enclosed shopping mall in America was built in 2006 as consumer sentiment shifted to open-air lifestyle centers. Howard Davidowitz, a New York-based retail consultant, recently forecast that half of America’s remaining traditional malls will go dark in the next 12 to 15 years.

In recent years, malls have been struggling as anchors close underperforming stores. Two of Concord’s anchors, Macy’s and Sears, have announced wide-scale store closings.

Concord has lost a number of tenants in the past year, including Pac-Sun, Express, Aeropostale, Wet Seal and Noodles, a quick casual restaurant concept. Del Haven Jewelers moved to consolidate operations at its Kirkwood Highway location. At 960,000 square feet, Concord currently has 36,937 square feet of empty space, according to a brochure on the company website.

Founded by developer Frank Acierno, Allied Retail Properties is a privately held, family-owned company that has owned and operated the Concord Mall since 1998. Based in Wilmington, Allied also own the booming Christina Fashion Center, a 562,497-square-foot lifestyle complex that is home to such first-to-the-market A-listers as The Container Store and REI.

Although the company is much smaller than Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Simon Properties, two shopping center behemoths, Burlington Coast Factory and HomeGoods. It’s location on Route 202 makes Concord readily accessible to Pennsylvania shoppers in search of tax-free goods,

Allied’s 6 million-square-foot portfolio includes Christina Town Center and Merchant Square in Wilmington, as well as other malls and shopping centers in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Eileen Smith Dallabrida has written for Delaware Public Media since 2010. She's also written for USA Today, National Geographic Traveler, the Christian Science Monitor and many other news outlets.
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