It was a busy week last week for Greendale's Southridge Mall. The Gap will be closing its doors at the mall, but H&M will be opening a 17,000 sq ft store in the space that formerly housed Lane Bryant on the lower level, across from Old Navy. Then the owner of Southridge, Simon Property Group (Simon Malls), scheduled a press conference on May 23rd to make a pending "big announcement".
For many months, sources both in the media and locally have been stating that Simon has been working behind the scenes with Macy's to bring the upscale department store to Southridge. Macy's would locate in the vacant Younkers location. It is a good time for this, since previous mall ownership attempted to rehab the Younkers site with several mid-box tenants a few years ago. Those tenants included Linens n Things, Steve & Barry's, and World Market. Thanks to the economic recession, only World Market remains at the site, and that store should be able to relocate to another site in the mall or in an outlot if Macy's takes control.
This is where Greendale's TIF District approval becomes so significant. Simon will likely utilize that TIF, in part, to convince World Market to relocate elsewhere on the Southridge property and also provide incentives to Macy's competitor, Boston Store, to allow them to OK Macy's arrival. Boston Store in the metro area has been frequently noted by retail analysts as essentially holding off hope of other high-end department stores from entering the Milwaukee market. This is due to Boston Store being unique in comparison to other department store brands by having a store in every mall in the metro area. Therefore, without Boston Store's approval, other competitors have problems opening up in new territory. Recently, it has been noted that this could have been a reason why Von Maur decided to open its first Wisconsin location in a Marcus-controlled project in the Town of Brookfield rather than at Brookfield Square.
May 23rd should be have an interesting press conference, and we should look at the exit of Gap and entrance of H&M as an indication as to where Simon wants to take Southridge in the future. The Gap is normally associated with lower-to-mid incomes, and H&M is generally trended with mid-to-upper incomes. H&M currently operates stores at Brookfield Square and Bayshore Town Center, making Southridge the third in the metro area.