Variety is key to mall comeback

An eclectic taste for tenants is helping the DCG Development Co. to fill its recently redeveloped Cl

An eclectic taste for tenants is helping the DCG Development Co. to fill its recently redeveloped Clifton Park Center at a time when a growing number of mall retailing staples have lost their appetite for new stores.

Vacant spaces left over from its transformation last year into an open-air mall still remain at Clifton Park Center. Attempting to boost the mall’s 86 percent occupancy rate, DCG is leaning heavily on independent and non-traditional tenants.

Clifton Park Center officials last week announced seven new tenants for the 650,000-square-foot mall, including a 2,000-square-foot space that Time Warner will share with Capital News 9. A FunWorks FunZone with Velcro walls and inflatable play stations will open next weekend in a 10,000-square-foot space.

“It’s tough because it’s a real fine, fine line for you to balance. We want to have local and regional stores. … Yet we like to have national stores because they give us far-reaching power,” said DCG Vice President of Commercial Management Rick Eaglestone.

The mall’s first newcomer, Bella Rogue Cosmetics and Skincare, opened last weekend in a 13,000-square-foot space. Other new tenants include custom dress maker Sandriena Kim Couturiere, clothing manufacturer and retailer The Cotton Market plus a Salad Creations restaurant.

The seven stores add to the 23 others DCG has brought to the mall since early last year. But the Clifton Park developer’s big tenant recruitment push came just as national retailing chains started purging stores in response to weaker U.S. consumers spending.

National retailers’ contractions are posing challenges for mall owners, who are seeing their leasing options shrink. Among Clifton Park Center’s newcomers, the only large national chain is a Justice Just for Girls, a tween girls fashion store owned by the New Albany, Ohio-based Tween Brands.

Justice has more than 230 stores nationwide. The Margate, Fla.-based Salad Creations chain has more than 30 restaurants nationwide, and the Long Island-based Cotton Market has five other New York stores.

“Could we use a couple of more nationals to get that reaching power? Sure we can,” Eaglestone said.

National chains such as Victoria’s Secret parent Limited Brands in Columbus, Ohio, Home Depot in Atlanta and Starbucks in Seattle have scaled back store expansion plans. Meanwhile, many other staple retailers are shrinking their shopping center footprints or stepping out of malls completely.

Wilson Leather’s Minnesota parent is rebranding 100 of its flagship mall shops and closing 160 others, including one at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland. After acquiring the Fort Worth, Texas-based Bombay and its 384 stores, two investment firms kept the furniture retailer’s Canadian arm but shuttered its U.S. operations, including a store at Colonie Center.

Attempting to climb out of bankruptcy, the Clifton, N.J., parent of Linens ’n Things is closing 120 home furnishings stores. Stores targeted for closure include one at Northway Mall in Colonie and another at The Crossing in Clifton Park.

Clifton Park Center took a small hit earlier this year when the Irving, Texas-based Zales Corp. closed the Piercing Pagoda there. After the holiday season, the Texas retailer closed more than 60 stores nationwide, including a Zales Jewelers at the Rotterdam Square mall. Another hit for the Clifton Park mall came when the Anaheim, Calif., parent of Pacific Sunwear closed its Clifton Park Center store.

“We’re doing a good job in a challenging market,” said Eaglestone.

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