Sycamore Mall considers changes to Von Maur space

By Pat Shaver

IOWA CITY—Sycamore Mall is undergoing major changes with its anchor tenant moving out this month.

Von Maur will officially close its doors in Sycamore Mall on July 21, said John Arlotti, vice president of commercial properties with CRH Management Inc. July 21 was a date that Von Maur and Sycamore Mall decided on late last week.

“Now that we know that, we can start setting some timelines. Our main objective will be to keep that corridor open through the mall. That’s going to be closed temporarily while they’re moving their fixtures out,” Mr. Arlotti said.

The mall is partnering with local architectural design firm Shive-Hattery to develop plans that will guide the transformation of the center. The owners of the mall and Shive-Hattery will work to evaluate national trends, with a focus on the local community.

“What we’re doing is, we’re going to do a couple different conceptual ideas. We’re doing things that will change that particular space and positively affect the whole mall,” Mr. Arlotti said.

What happens next depends on the concepts they come up with and the agreements with new tenants, he said.

“We’re talking to different tenants, some of which would look at the entire space, and some that would want smaller spaces,” he said.

The repositioning of the mix for the center includes active negotiations with prospective tenants that will compliment the center; while still maintaining a solid core of destination-driven retailers; including Petland, Panera, Dollar Store, Pizza Ranch, Ben Franklin and Sycamore 12 Theaters.

“We want to make some changes that will make it more upbeat,” he said.

This follows the announcement in February of a new financial agreement reached with Great Western Bank. Working with a local financial institution continues the center’s strategy of local partnerships and building its position within the community and allows the mall to competitively position itself, he said.

“It takes a bit of time because it’s a larger space. We’d like to do something that will enhance the shopping of the entire mall. We’ve been studying concepts from throughout the U.S. of malls going through similar situations we’re going through and we plan to incorporate several of those in our plans,” Mr. Arlotti said.

Sycamore Mall also has a new general manager, Kerry Sanders, who started two months ago. Kirk White, the former general manager, left to take an opportunity at another mall, Mr. Arlotti said. Mr. Sanders was previously the general manager at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

Von Maur is moving to its new location in Iowa River Landing and will hold a grand opening July 27. The 80,000-square-foot Coralville store is about 25,000 square feet larger than the Iowa City location. The increase in space allows for additional products and features.

When it opens, the new Coralville Von Maur store will include expanded departments, such as the juniors and shoe departments. There will be an interactive tree and play area for children, and an open atrium and seating area surrounding a piano.

Iowa River Landing restaurants, including Backpocket Brewing, Vesta, Konomi, Charlotte’s Deli and Edgewater Grille will distribute free samples from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Von Maur’s opening on July 27.

Prior to the opening, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting at 9:45 a.m., featuring local business representatives, city officials, and executives from Von Maur. The retailer has several in-store activities planned for their first day of business including live music, children’s activities and a $1,000 shopping spree give away.