Century Sale Means More Retail Action
Publication date: 02/10/2001 – Source: Post-Tribune
Article Title:  Century Sale Means More Retail Action
Kristi O’Brien, Staff Writer

The Century Mall sale and development of surround land could turn the U.S. 30 and Broadway corridor into one of the hottest retail spots around.

With the possible addition of a frontage road and traffic signal to connect the mall to the Kmart Plaza on the west, Michael Lunn, a broker with Merrillville-based Commercial In-Sites, has high hopes.

“I think it has the potential to change some people’s driving patterns,” he said, “Right now, people go across on 93rd Avenue to get to Southlake Mall.  But you might see more people drive down Broadway.”

Lunn is a listing agent for a nine-acre piece of land, attached to Kmart, on the west side of Broadway across from Century Mall.

Currently, to get to Kmart from northbound Broadway, drivers must get onto U.S. 30, then turn south, across traffic – something town officials say has caused several accidents.

Lunn said he has talked with the Indiana Department of Transportation and was told the area qualifies for a traffic signal.  Adding the light could make it easier for shoppers to get in and out of the mall as well, which shopper Tama McGuire of Chesterton thinks is a much-needed improvement.

“Getting out has always been confusing, she said in an e-mail response to a Post-Tribune survey asking shoppers what they’d like to see at the mall site.  “You have to read at every corner just to figure out how to get out.”

Lunn said he’s gotten “a lot of good inquiries” on the land, but he said developers might have been waiting for the sale of the mall to be completed.

Tri-Land Properties of Westchester, ILL., bought Century Mall last week and plans to demolish it within two weeks.  The Burlington Coat Factory and Montgomery Wards stores will remain.

“I think the demolition is a very strong positive,” Lunn said.  “When the mall concepts were developed in the ‘70”s, people wanted one big enclosed mall.  They didn’t mind walking to get to the front entrance.  Now that the population is older and the younger people are always in a hurry, people want to park close, get in, get it and go.”

With the right mix of stores in a strip mall setting, Lunn said, one tenant’s traffic benefits another.

Lunn said some possibilities for the area are businesses that already advertise here because of the Chicago market but don’t have a location in Northwest Indiana.

An example, he said, is Charles Schwab, which has coffeehouse-type trading centers in Chicago where people can go to trade in a casual setting during the day.

Lunn said with the strip mall a growing preference for many shoppers, stores might pull out of the mall setting and open a larger free-standing store to gain a higher profile.

Restaurants are another likely addition to the development, he said, since there are numerous office settings on Broadway near U.S. 30. 

“I think the Broadway-U.S. 30 intersection is going to have more energy and more things going on,” Lunn said.

“We’ve already seen that with Buffalo Wild Wings and House of Kobe doing well there.”

Reporter Kristi O’Brien can be reached at 648-3076 or by e-mail at kobrien@post-trib.com.

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