With GNC gone and Justice leaving, the number of tenants in Mount Berry Mall is dwindling.
Justice, a children’s clothing store, is displaying huge closing signs in its showcase windows, with everything inside on sale.
It’s part of the Ascena Retail Group, a New Jersey-based retailer with a number of national brands in its portfolio including Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant. The group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and industry sources have reported that its Justice brand will bear a significant share of the retail closures as part of the bankruptcy action.
Those two recent closings compound the losses at the already largely vacant mall. The mall has also lost Victoria’s Secret in the last month and JC Penney is in the midst of a large inventory close-out sale.
In an effort to fill some retail space the mall is conducting a contest to identify The Next Great Pop-Up Shop, which will receive free space for six weeks and financial assistance to develop space in the mall for the upcoming Christmas holiday season.
Hull Property Group — the Augusta-based owners of the mall — recently spent close to $1.9 on a major interior upgrade. It features new carpeting throughout the mall, new lighting, a new paint job and improvements to the electrical, heating and air conditioning systems.
Auto parts store moving
Another development this week has Carquest Auto Parts planning a move from its location on North Fifth Avenue to a spec building constructed behind the CVS Pharmacy at the intersection of Martha Berry Boulevard and Redmond Road.
Carquest has agreed to a long-term lease for the speculative commercial building constructed by Jeff Brooks and Brian Dulaney in the shopping center behind CVS and Wells Fargo Bank.
Jimmy Byars, a broker at Hardy Realty, said he expects the company to make the move to the brand new building sometime around Oct. 1.
A final build-out of the space will dictate the timing of the move.
The Berry Crossing shopping center was acquired by Brooks and Dulaney a year ago.
It has two more pads that are ready for new construction. Back in November, Brooks said he hoped to recruit a new restaurant to the area.