Ever since a new ownership group took control of The Shops of Grand Avenue back in December 2015, speculation has been high as to what, exactly, that ownership group will do with the long-struggling downtown mall. Now, ahead of an official announcement (including a new name) planned for April 25, some details have emerged. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, a “substantial portion” of the cavernous mall will be converted into office space, and “efforts are underway to attract a grocer to the building.” Huh.
The Business Journal notes that the mall currently has about 300,000 square feet of space, and that between 40,000 and 120,000 could become office space. It continues:
“While offices could bring new life to the Grand Avenue’s vacant spaces, the property will continue to have retail space. T.J.Maxx, which is in the Grand Avenue’s Plankinton Arcade, gets sales revenue comparable to the retailer’s suburban location, and draws in shoppers from outside the immediate area, [Tony] Janowiec said. Shoppers at T.J. Maxx account for 97 percent of the parking vouchers used by Grand Avenue’s visitors, he said.
“Similar destination retailer can succeed there, Janowiec said. The mall’s owners have been in talks with Ross Dress for Less to potentially move into the mall, but those talks are going slowly, he said.
“However, the No. 1 request the Grand Avenue’s owners have received is for a grocery store, Janowiec said. He said grocers are in discussions over opening a store in the mall, and are attracted to the available, free parking for grocery shoppers in the mall’s parking structure, he said.
“‘There are several grocers interested,’ Janowiec said.”
No word yet on how much square footage will be converted into a makeshift playground for stir-crazy toddlers.