It’s business as usual at the Marshfield Mall, which despite rumors to the contrary, isn’t planning on shutting its doors anytime soon.
Ned Brickman, President of Midland Management and owner of Marshfield Mall, confirmed that there were no major changes planned this year and his company is actively thinking about the mall’s future – which doesn’t include closure.
Last July, Brickman presented a plan to Common Council to redevelop the mall by razing the current building except for the Younkers, Kohl’s, and Ashley Furniture HomeStore spaces, then constructing five medium box stores, two spaces for fast casual dining restaurants, and a spot for current mall tenants.
However, any such development – if it ever did happen – would be years down the road and happen in stages as determined by interest from potential tenants, who are unlikely to show up all at once.
“Retail is changing, and malls like this are becoming less viable,” said Brickman. “Eventually when you look to the future, that’s probably the future – but it doesn’t mean the future is anytime soon.”
His first priority is to fill the Younkers space, potentially by next spring. The location would be split in half and occupied by two national retailers who have shown an interest.
“It’s probably better to have two stores in there because it brings more traffic,” he said. “The world of retail today, these stores are getting smaller.”
Leasing a space to a large company is a slow process which can take several years. Brickman is confident he’ll be able to bring in tenants to fill the Younkers space, but notes that demand isn’t what it used to be. Retail expansion has ground to a relative halt as national retailers reduce the number of new stores they open each year.
“Ten years ago there would have been 30-40 retailers that would have been viable for this type of property. Now there might be half a dozen,” he said. “It’s a different world.”
Though retail expansion might have slowed considerably, Marshfield is near the top of the list when it comes to companies who want to get into smaller markets.
“Marshfield is a great market for its size,” said Brickman. He noted that the mall’s current tenants are doing well, and so are other chains in the city. “The problem is there aren’t many that are opening new stores…There’s a market for it, no question. It just takes time.”
With high demand for fast-casual restaurants, there is still a potential that other buildings could be constructed on the property, but several years down the road. In the meantime, the mall will continue to run normally, which includes hosting its yearly vendor shows and events.
“Until there’s a change that would necessitate making changes to the mall itself, we’re going to continue to operate it best we can,” said Brickman.