Miller Hill Mall: An outlook for 2015

It's been a while since we've really reported on any of the happenings at the Miller Hill Mall. Why? Well, there just isn't that much happening regarding new store openings. While most would see that as a negative, it's actually a real positive as it means the Miller Hill Mall is doing very well.

In past years we saw a major reshuffling of tenants that brought in more national tenants compared to local tenants. Since then the Miller Hill Mall has been able to attract and retain national tenants so well that there basically isn't room for anymore at the moment. Over the past few years we have seen the renovation of stores like Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Hot Topic and American Eagle Outfitters along with the introduction of national retailers and restaurants such as Coach, Express, PINK, Men's Warehouse, Noodles and Company and Chipotle.

The mall has continued to see reinvestment by it's anchor tenants who are looking to attract designer names into their stores. JCPenney saw the renovation of multiple areas within their store introducing concepts from Martha Stewart, Michael Graves, DISNEY, and even the addition of a large Sephora location on their first floor. Younker's has also continued their efforts to bring designer luxury brands into their store such as the addition of Coach hangbags and more recently their introduction of Michael Kors women's apparel (could a retail soon be to follow?).

This spring rue21 will open a new location within the mall near Sears (you can read our post here about rue21). That opening is likely to be the first of a few changes for the mall within 2015. In November we saw the opening of Men's Warehouse in part of the former Coldwater Creek space which also left an additonal retail space next door (something perfectly suited for an ALDO location *cough). And in late summer we saw the glorious opening of our beloved Chipotle location. Mmmmm burritos. 

As with every mall there have been some closings. But let's clear the air first.

Coldwater Creek closed  due to the company going bankrupt and therefore closing all their retail locations. Wetseal closed their Miller Hill Mall location this week due to their company consolidating their store locations across the US (the company closed over 300 store locations across this week alone)  . Build A Bear Workshop most likely will be closing up shop within the next couple weeks as they close their holiday pop-store within the mall.

Did you notice a common trend with these closures? None are due to a lack of sales.

So what's next?

First off, let's talk about the outcome of these closings and what it means for the mall?

Wetseal is leaving a PRIME space next to the Food Court. We are sure that that one won't sit vacant for long. It's also a pretty large and perfectly formatted space that could house many different retailers. Men, it's time to cross your fingers that maybe we could see a J.Crew men's store pop up? Ladies, maybe Ann Taylor (or their sister store LOFT) will finally take a stab at Duluth? Or, for the children, maybe we will see Build A Bear establish a permanent home within the mall as they have planning to do for years now.

With so few spaces remaining it means that the competition for space within the mall heats up. What the translates to is newer stores, more aggressive renovations, and ultimately more national retailers. What it also shows is a demand for more retail space.

While no formal plans for an expansion have been announced it wouldn't surprise us if you see one within the next few years. It's evident that a mall renovation is greatly needed and that it's bound to happen soon. It's also known that mall officials are working on a renovation plan but ladies and gentlemen, that type of stuff doesn't happen over night.

But what that does do is pose a question within our development crazed minds. If Simon Properties (the owners of the Miller Hill Mall) do decide to sink millions of dollars into a renovation, wouldn't it make sense to expand at the same time? Also, do remember that the mall did have a planned expansion for the Sears wing in the late 90's that never occurred. Maybe 2016 is the year? Plus, we know that there are quite a few people who would love to see some sort of entertainment added to the mall. AMC Theater anymore? Maybe a Dave and Buster's?

What we do know is there are are definitely more retailers looking to get into the mall. We know one very large one ourselves (we'll tell you as soon as soon as the plans solidify). So now it's just a question of where the space comes from.

Bottom line is that things at the Miller Hill Mall are bound to start changing within the next few years and we have a feeling that 2015 could be the year of a big announcement. If not that, we'll for sure see a few new stores introduced.