The new owners of Myrtle Beach Mall said architects have already developed a couple of new concepts for the mall and changes are planned to get more shoppers in its 521,000 square feet.
“We’ve already been there at least 20 times,” said Gil Priel, president of Peak Financial Partners.
First off the blocks will be a redesigned food court, then a conversion of the center of the mall, the theater area and the mall’s front. Eventually, the mall will get the interior and exterior makeover that Erika Gillard, manager of Icing by Claire’s, said earlier this week she thinks is needed.
“There are a lot of pieces that are already in motion,” Priel said.
Allan Davidov, partner at Misuma Holdings, which is Peak’s partner in the venture, said Misuma and Peak have the same goal as Gillard and other merchants - more traffic in the mall.
“Anything they can do to improve the mall is good,” Steve Harm, owner of Countertops & More, said when he heard what Davidov and Priel have planned. “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”
Priel and Davidov said that investing in the mall will be no problem as their companies have the wherewithal to make needed changes.
Should a tenant need a particular change to lure it into signing a lease, that can be done, said the partners.
Davidov said that while the new owners are not seeking to replace any of the current tenants, Misuma and Peak have already gotten a lot of interest in their project from major national retailers, including some who do not yet have stores along the Grand Strand. They declined to name them.
Mall merchants will be expected to maintain a high level of visual presentation and customer service.
While another new owner is part of the mall’s future, the current new owners aren’t looking for a quick-fix-and-out type of flip.
“We will not leave a property until it is fully turned around,” Davidov said.
“We don’t see this as a one-year turnaround,” Priel added.
Misuma and Peak bought the mall’s $45 million mortgage for less than $45 million, Davidov said, but added that the bank doesn’t want them to specify the final price.
He said the 28-year-old mall has a strong structure of anchor tenants that include Belk, J.C. Penney, Books-A-Million and South Carolina’s only Bass Pro Shops (though the retailer is planning locations in North Charleston and Spartanburg).
The mall, off U.S. 17 near S.C. 22, had a makeover in 2004, but Davidov said this one will be different.
“You have ownership now that cares about the mall and wants everyone to succeed,” he said.
Misuma and Peak specialize in revitalizing underperforming properties and have partnered on projects for more than 25 years, they said, primarily in California and Texas.
The partners see their customers as being locals, snowbirds and tourists, and they plan to have features that will attract all of them.
They said the Myrtle Beach market is interesting because of its mix of audiences, and the mall’s location in the center of the Grand Strand’s north end is a good one for investment.
Harm isn’t the only mall merchant who was glad to hear that changes are ahead.
‘It’s good they’re going to do something good for the mall,” said Ali Abdi of Oxford Perfumes & Jewelry.
Harm said the updates and improvements will be positive as long as the new owners keep the rent in line.
“Our job as developers is to increase traffic in our centers,” Davidov said. “It’s up to the tenants to service them.”
The partners said they have heard about Inlet Square Mall, another of the Grand Strand’s underperforming assets.
They were non-commital about their interest in buying and refurbishing it, but ...
“Typically,” Davidov said, “when we go into a market we would definitely look at more opportunities.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765 or on Twitter @TSN_sjones.