Ousted Westdale Mall merchants deciding future course of business

Demolition of the former Montgomery Ward building will begin on or after Jan. 16

George Ford
Published: January 2 2014 | 1:05 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:33 am in
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On Thursday, when many Westdale Mall tenants received certified letters informing them they need to move out by March 31, many were determining what future course of action to take regarding their business.

"We are staying open and very hopeful of finding a new location on the west side of Cedar Rapids," said Paula Pino, manager of The Drop Inn Resale Shop, which has been operating for about 18 months.

"This just speeds up the process. We weren't thinking it would be so soon and it just will happen sooner than we thought it would."

The Drop Inn Resale Shop is a non-profit organization looking to develop a youth center on the west side of Cedar Rapids. The shop also supports international missions.

Justin Heitz, general manager of Chick-Fil-A at Westdale, said the future of the restaurant will be determined by the chain's corporate office in Atlanta, Ga. Heitz declined further comment, including whether the restaurant will remain open until March 31.

Frew Development Group, which is managing a $90 million redevelopment of Westdale, has indicated that Chick-Fil-A was expected to build a stand-alone store on the Edgewood Road perimeter of the mall.

The fast-food chain, one of the original tenants of Westdale, opened a stand-alone store on the Collins Road perimeter of Lindale Mall in October 2012. The stores require about four months to construct and equip, which would mean that a Westdale location may not be possible by the time the existing store is required to close.

There are about 23 "specialty tenants" at Westdale, including corporate-owned stores like Bath & Body Works, Eddie Bauer, General Nutrition Center, Rogers Jewelers and LensCrafters Eyewear. Store managers are referring all inquiries to their respective corporate parents, where messages have been left seeking comment.

While the interior of the mall will be demolished to prepare for redevelopment of the property, John Frew, president of Denver, Colo.-based Frew Development Group, said J.C. Penney and Younkers will remain open for business and will not be affected by the demolition.

All four anchor buildings at Westdale were constructed as independent structures. Frew Development Group has been working to secure a single tenant for the vacant former Von Maur department store building.

Frew plans to begin demolition of the former Montgomery Ward building on or after Jan. 16. A new lease agreement with J.C. Penney delays any demolition work until after Jan. 15.

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