by Gwen Moritz
Posted 3/17/2014 12:00 am
Updated 8 months ago
Lakewood Village is bouncing back nicely from the one-two blow of losing two of its major tenants.
In place of USA Drug, which closed in the fall of 2012 after the chain was sold to Walgreen Co., two retailers new to North Little Rock are set to open in the next few weeks: Ulta Beauty and Dress Barn.
Also razed was the Lakewood 8 theater, which closed a year ago. Its former footprint will become the parking lot for more new construction, an LA Fitness health club.
Ulta and Dress Barn are part of publicly traded retail chains that are well established in Arkansas, and it seems they weren’t too hard to lure across the Arkansas River.
“We just made contact with their real estate departments and said we think this would be a good market for them,” Gregg Mueller, leasing agent for Lakewood Village, said last week.
Lakewood Village is owned by The Ashley Group.
The buildout looks nearly complete on both stores, which are each occupying about 10,000 SF.
The venerable Lakewood 8, which opened in 1986 and received considerable updating in 2011, couldn’t survive the arrival of the state-of-the-art Regal Stadium 12 nearly next door at McCain Mall in the fall of 2012. It was closed by its final owner, Starplex Cinemas of Dallas, in March 2013.
“When the Regal theater came into the mall next door, they were not able to get the product they needed to remain in business,” Mueller said. There was no point trying to preserve the old building as a movie house, he said.
LA Fitness is a 30-year-old, privately held chain of health clubs based in Irvine, Calif. It has made an aggressive move into central Arkansas. Two of the clubs opened in Little Rock in late 2013 — 47,700 SF at 304 S. University Ave. and 43,000 SF at 11700 Chenal Parkway.
The Lakewood Village location should be in-between in size, about 45,000 SF. The site work is being done by Ashley, but no contractor for LA Fitness had been chosen as of last week, Mueller said. LA Fitness pulled a $4 million building permit in January.
Three decades ago, when enclosed malls ruled the retail landscape, Lakewood Village was strangely out of step and struggled for viability. Today it seems to have been prescient in its anticipation of open-air “power center” shopping destinations, and it has a strong mix of national (Books-A-Million), regional (Stein Mart) and local (Bedford Camera) retailers.
“It’s intentional,” Mueller said. “We have a good mix because we want a good mix. That’s a good shopping center.”
Replacing USA Drug and the Lakewood 8 has filled up all the major vacancies in the center, but “a few small spaces” are still in search of tenants, he said.