Grand Island developer Ray O'Connor has purchased the Grand Island Mall for $1.8 million and has plans for major redevelopment there.
The purchase affects 154,000 square feet of building between Shopko and Dollar Tree, plus a parking lot.
“The mall has been an eyesore for many years, and I felt a civic responsibility to acquire and transform the mall into something the community can be proud of again,” O'Connor said on Tuesday.
But he said he knew his limitations in bringing in the big-name stores, shops and dining experiences he believes the community wants and needs. So he sought redevelopment help from the St. Louis-based Staenberg Group Properties.
Michael Staenberg has developed, leased and managed more than 100 properties covering more than 20 million square feet of retail space across the United States. The firm provides site selection, design, build, acquisition, investment and partnership opportunities for shopping centers.
O'Connor said he plans to redevelop the Grand Island Mall building and create three outlots — two facing Webb Road and one along Highway 281.
“Preliminary plans include modification to the existing building to take advantage of the Highway 281 visibility and accommodate more vibrant 'lifestyle-like' tenants,” a written release from the Staenberg Group states.
“Prospective tenants will include junior anchors, inline shops space and fast casual restaurant groups typically found in open-air retail developments,” the written release states. “The existing site provides clear highway visibility and extends the existing retail corridor along Highway 281.”
O'Connor said three existing tenants will be relocating. They are Merle Norman, Coin Corner and Iglesia de Dios Ebenezer, which is building its own church on land it bought along Capital Avenue. The roof in the church's leased space collapsed, and the previous building owners, Grand Island Mall LTD and DLP Corp., did little to no maintenance and repairs on the structure, O'Connor said.
“Foxy Nails and Hastings (bookstore) will remain,” O'Connor said.
The development is expected to have a look and feel different from any other in the area.
“This will be the first lifestyle center in Central Nebraska,” O'Connor said.
Lifestyle centers are mixed-use commercial developments that combine the traditional retail functions of a shopping mall with leisure amenities oriented toward upscale consumers.
Shops and restaurants typically have their own outdoor access for customers and higher-end finishes and furnishings. Lifestyle centers also generally include park-like landscaping, lighting and outdoor features.
While O'Connor has been working a lot lately on single-family home construction at the Residences at Copper Creek, he also has numerous retail spaces, including MainStreet Station to the east of the Grand Island Mall, Gateway to the north of the Grand Island Mall, Southeast Crossings on South Locust Street and Silverwood on Stolley Park. He also owns numerous offices, apartment complexes and rental housing.
The Grand Island Mall will be renamed, O'Connor said. Details on the redevelopment and new tenants there will be released as the project progresses.
“I want to make something exceptional for the community,” O'Connor said.