3 tenants moving to mall's front
By William F. West
Sunday, October 22, 2017
The "demalling" of Southgate Mall by the shopping center's new owners is about to take another step forward.
City Manager Rich Olson said Friday city inspections staff have issued permits to A.R. Chesson Construction to begin remodeling work so that three mall tenants — Saslow's Jewelers, Hibbett Sports and GNC — can move from the rear of the mall to its front.
It’s not clear when the work will start but once the project is completed, all three tenants will have their own exterior storefronts accessible from the shopping center's parking lot off Ehringhaus Street.
Olson said Saslow’s, Hibbett Sports and GNC will continue to occupy the same amount of floor space as they have now.
Clay Boardman III, a managing member of the mall’s ownership group, the Vireo Group, said in an email Friday the Shoe Dept. store will also make the move from the rear of the mall to the front. And like the other stores, the Shoe Dept.’s floor space won’t change.
In another change, Vireo’s website refers to Southgate as “Elizabeth City Centre.”
Boardman said Friday the name change probably won’t happen until late this year.
John Saslow, president of the Greensboro-based Saslow's chain, said in an email that after the remodeling work, his store will be “located straight ahead as you drive in the main entrance, with a brand new GNC located just to the left of us and Belk's to the left of them."
Saslow said he was pleased with the mall’s new layout.
"This will give Elizabeth City a great new shopping destination and will be convenient to those living in Elizabeth City, Camden and the Coast Guard base area," he said. “It will be nice for area residents to have a great new shopping option without having to take all the time and aggravation of driving all the way to the Wal-Mart."
Other stores that will be part of the new “demalled” shopping center include Belk and Burkes Outlet. A representative of the Florida-based Burkes Outlet chain said his company recently signed a multi-year extension for Burkes to remain a Southgate tenant on the front side of the shopping center. An official with Charlotte-based Belk had said the same thing in July.
Southgate Mall opened in 1969 and has remained the Albemarle's only enclosed shopping center. After losing a number of tenants over the past five years, however, the mall’s former owner defaulted on a promissory note to its lender in 2015, forcing the mall to be sold at an auction.
The Vireo Group, which is based in Augusta, Ga., acquired Southgate in February at an online auction for an estimated $2.3 million.
Thus far, Vireo has demolished the former Kangaroo convenience store on the mall property to create more space for the new shopping center. Boardman has also confirmed plans to level the former J.C. Penney store and Merchant’s Tire and Auto service center, both located on the mall’s west side.