Mall at Johnson City owner: ‘Exciting’ redevelopment efforts set to kick off in 2020

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – One day after Sears announced it will be shutting its doors in early 2020, Mall at Johnson City officials said they have redevelopment efforts already in the works.

A news release from Washington Prime Group, the owner of the Mall at Johnson City, details exciting redevelopment efforts that are expected to kick off next year.

Friday, officials with the mall would not give us details about those plans, but said they are expected to begin in 2020.

The news release said an announcement will be coming in the near future and that, “The Company is committed to reinvesting in The Mall at Johnson City and maintaining its longstanding presence as the gathering place to shop, play, eat and drink in the Tri-Cities.”

“From what I can tell just from my stand point in leasing, they do an excellent job in leasing and managing the center,” said John Ruzic of Retail Strategies about Washington Prime Group. “That’s a very impressive fact, given the fact that many malls in similar markets like Johnson City across the country have failed.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Johnson City Sears closing in early 2020

Retail Strategies is in a consulting partnership with Johnson City. Ruzic said his company has reached out to other retailers about the space.

He also said the Sears closing should not be a surprise to retailers and developers who have become more familiar with how frequent stores like Sears close.

“There might be a situation where you demise the space, or cut up the space into smaller spaces for other retailers,” said Ruzic, “or you might look at alternatives to retail for use of that space.”

Ruzic said Sears provides approximately 70 jobs and provides around $10 million in sales volume per year, according to the national averages.

The store’s closing will result in a loss in sales tax to the city.

The Mall of Johnson City customers we spoke with on Friday were saddened, but not caught off-guard be the news.

“I’m just really going to miss it because I have been a very faithful shopper here at Sears for many years,” said Wanda Simpson, a long-time customer.

“Everything is on Amazon anymore,” said another customer. “Sears has been a dying business any way, they’ve been closing all across America, so it’s sad, but at the same time, pave a way for the future.”

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