The Bangor Mall’s tailspin during the past year appears to be leveling off, with its new manager saying he wants to improve the mall and keep it going.
“We believe the Bangor Mall’s current condition can be materially improved as the mall represents solid, well-located real estate within a good demographic trade area,” Frederick Meno, president and CEO of asset services at The Woodmont Company, said. He said he is not aware of any plans to foreclose on, sell or auction the mall.
A Penobscot County Superior Court judge in July appointed the Fort Worth, Texas, company to act as a receiver for the mall, meaning it will manage all mall operations on behalf of its current owner, MSCI 2007-IQ16 Stillwater Avenue LLC.
Meno is in charge of Woodmont’s efforts to operate, manage, protect and conserve the mall property. That includes getting tenants and leases for the mall with the approval of MSCI.
“Presently, we believe the highest and best use for the Bangor Mall is to continue as a regional enclosed shopping center venue and as such, the continued leasing focus will be to bring full and off price retailers to the mall and the adjacent out parcels that are part of the mall.” he said. Meno made his comments in an email interview with the Bangor Daily News.
Meno said his approach to improving the operating performance of the mall includes improving its physical condition, the manner in which the property and its tenants are advertised and marketed to the public, the level of communication with the mall’s tenants and leasing the property in a manner that maximizes occupancy.
Meno said that often, the biggest challenge in turning around a property whose operating performance has been in decline, is to change the image and perception that the retailer community and the general public have for the property.
“This type of perception-shift can only occur through achieving tangible and observable results, starting with improving the occupancy of the property,” he said.
“In today’s mall environment, it is critical that malls have an ‘experiential’ merchandising component, incorporating entertainment concepts such as theatres, trampoline parks, bowling, rock climbing, ice rink and the like along with a strong on-premises food offering,” he said.
While the mall already has a theatre adjacent to it, he said it is an attractive venue for the other concepts.
As the receiver company, Woodmont is responsible for the day-to-day leasing, management and operations of the property. Woodmont also has retained the entire Bangor Mall on-site management team and hired back the former specialty leasing manager, he said.
Available space in the mall, including pad sites and out parcels are for lease, he said, with the exception of the separately owned former Macy’s parcel now occupied by Furniture Mattress & More. It is not part of the receivership.
Meno said Woodmont’s leasing plan includes a focus on getting one or more tenants for the former Sears space, leasing the in-line vacancies between the anchor stores, leasing the out-parcel vacancies and pursuing the renewal of tenants whose leases are set to expire. Woodmont is looking for both local and national tenants.
“A special leasing emphasis is being given to bringing in entertainment-oriented retailers as well as expanding the on-premises food offering,” he said.
He said he expects both Dick’s and JC Penney, two of the four anchor stores whose leases are up within the next couple years, to remain as tenants in the mall.
Woodmont and Meno also operate the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle for a separate client and are looking to increase its income through leasing and managing the operating expenses.
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