Published: 02/15/2022 18:25:15
Modified: 02/15/2022 18:23:22
Carrie Foote isn’t worried about losing the space she rents at Steeplegate Mall for her salon, Blue Sky Hair Studio. Its five-year lease for a storefront next to the mall’s last anchor tenant, JCPenney, is still two and a half years old.
“I don’t worry about anything, I just go with it,” Foote said. “I think it will be okay.”
Blue Sky Studio is one of the mall’s newest tenants, which has seen retail stores leave while new activity-based businesses, such as a gym, theater and trampoline park, move in.
This week, the Hatbox Theater received a letter from the mysterious and hard-to-reach mall owner, New York-based Namdar Realty Group, telling them they have 30 days to vacate their space. A day later, the mall rescinded its letter and allowed the theater to remain. Namdar did not respond to interview requests.
Businesses that remain inside the main mall include retail chains like JCPenney, Talbot’s, Chico’s and Verizon Wireless as well as The Zoo Health Club, Altitude Trampoline Park, Arch Threading Spa, The Jeweler’s Workbench and Blue Sky Hair Studio. Mountain Goods also maintains a seasonal storefront.
Foote said Blue Sky has many appointments and the lounge is not reliant on customers walking around.
Gregg Mezzapelle, owner of the jeweler’s workbench, does not have a lease for his kiosk in the mall.
“I’m just a little worried,” Mezzapelle said. “It’s my house.”
Her jewelry repair business has been located inside Steeplegate for 15 years. Before that, he worked for a family jewelry business, also in the mall. 30 days’ notice, the amount originally given to the Hatbox Theater, would not give it enough time to find a new location, he said.
Mezzapelle said the city’s focus on encouraging downtown development to the exclusion of the mall and Monitor coverage of the mall’s struggles did not help his business.
Like Foote, Mezzapelle said he relied on the solid reputation he had built with his clientele, not foot traffic. “I am a destination,” he says.
Its previous lease expired a few years ago, but Mezzapelle was unable to reach the mall’s owners to set up a new deal. Instead, he simply pays his rent each month. He declined to say how much he paid in rent, but called the amount “very fair”.
“They’re a mystery,” he said of the mall’s owners. “They are ghosts.”
Last week, Concord City Council put the mall’s future on its list of priorities for the next two years. Deputy city manager Carlos Baía said the owners had been unwilling to engage with city proposals to redevelop the property, which has lost more than 50 of its original 60 stores.
Namdar, which owns 59 malls across the country, bought Steeplegate Mall in 2016 for $10.4 million.
Steeplegate Mall opened in 1990 during a construction boom in new retail space across the country. Like many malls, it has struggled more and more in recent years. Of its four anchor spaces, only JCPenney remains.