Posted: 6:22 am Thursday, April 25th, 2013
By Emily Roach
Update: JCPenney closed after business Sunday. Demolition is expected to start on that last remaining section of the contiguous Palm Beach Mall in about a month. The Firestone will also be torn down.
There’s no doubt now that the Palm Beach Outlets project is a firm committment.
Palm Beach Mall, except for the JCPenney store that closes this week, is gone. Demolition is nearly complete.
Developer’s representative Tom Carabine said recently that the retailer is scheduled to close May 1. But it appears it will be before that.
A handful of racks still hold clothes, and they’re clustered around the main entrance. A salesperson said the store would probably close this week, depending on sales.
Once the company vacates the building, due by June 1, it will be torn down too. Firestone will also be torn down soon.
Ranger Construction Industries started on the ground prep in March, Carabine said. The first phase of the project — 80 to 100 outlets planned in an open rectacular area in the center of the 80-acre property — should be done by next February.
New England Development, a Massachusetts-based real estate firm, partnered with Eastern Real Estate and Lubert-Adler to buy the 80-acre mall in October 2011 for $35.5 million; the rebuild will probably add $150 million to the price tag.
Palm Beach Outlets will be built in phases. First the outlets, then a strip of big-box retailers along the Interstate 95 boundary.
So far, only Whole Foods has announced its intention to locate on the property. And it is planned for a standalone structure on the northeast side.
But Carabine said more than 80 percent of the space is committed. Hopefully more stores will make their announcements soon.
JCPenney had long been the lone holdout at the property. You remember the sign that said: “Here to stay.”
The company is in upheaval after tossing a CEO who was supposed to turn things around and instead sent store sales into the basement. A company spokesman did not address the history of the store, but sent an email last week saying JCPenney had no immediate plans to open in the new mall.
“As you know, the Palm Beach Mall is currently undergoing redevelopment, and jcpenney is the only store operating in the shopping center,” Joseph Thomas stated. “As a result, we feel this is the best time to exit the location.”