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July 21 , 2006

Lowe’s tipped for Richardson Square Mall

July 21st, 2006 - Sandra Zaragoza Staff Writer A weakened inner-city mall in Richardson may soon be getting some big-box muscle. Lowe's Home Improvement is hammering out a deal with Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group to be part of the Richardson Square Mall redevelopment, according to a source who confirmed it with a party involved in the deal. A portion of the mall will be demolished to make room for the Lowe's, according to the source, who declined to be identified because they were not involved in the deal. It's not known whether Lowe's will purchase or lease its space. Les Morris, a Simon spokesman, said the mall owner would not confirm or deny the Lowe's deal. "We never comment on negotiations until lease documents are signed, and we can make an announcement," Morris said. Simon has worked with the city to come up with a redevelopment plan for Richardson Square Mall at Belt Line and Plano roads. Monica Heid, director of development services for the city of Richardson, would not comment on the mall, but said the city anticipates that Simon will make an announcement about its redevelopment plans by the end of the summer. In the last year, the mall lost Barnes & Noble and Dillard's to Simon's Firewheel Town Center at the northeast corner of George Bush Turnpike and State Highway 78 in Garland. The open-air mall, which opened last fall, expects to attract 10 million to 12 million shoppers this year. Nice fit Adding a Lowe's to Richardson Square Mall's roster of retailers, which includes a Target, doesn't come as a surprise to real estate experts. "They are looking for what will work in an environment that has low growth but high density," said Terry Syler, vice president of The Retail Connection, a retail real estate brokerage, investment and development firm. With Richardson's older established neighborhoods, "a do-it-yourself store like Lowe's would fit nicely in the market," Syler said. Conn's Appliances and PetSmart, located in nearby shopping centers, have already proven they can do well in the trade area, Syler added. Richardson Square's move toward power center retailers isn't unique. Many malls have sought to reinvent themselves during a time of increasing competition from shopping centers that have lured mall anchors and entertainment-oriented developments. "In order to compete, many malls have incorporated (big box) power elements" said Ian Pierce of The Weitzman Group, a real estate brokerage that specializes in retail. For example, Irving Mall now has a Circuit City and a Barnes & Noble with outdoor entrances, Pierce said. "In the case of traditional malls it has given them an outside identity," Pierce said. "The mall is redesigned so that the retailer has outside visibility."
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