CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Charleston Town Center recorded a strong year in 2011 and is off to a fast start in 2012, said Lisa McCracken, the mall's marketing director.
"We were able to bring about 52,000 square feet of new or remodeled space to the center in 2011," McCracken said. "That was strong growth for Charleston Town Center in terms of leasing and the property."
General Manager Tom Bird said 2011 was "our best leasing year in a long time," and "sales are at the highest level they've been since the shopping center opened."
The new stores in 2011: Panera Bread, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Bare Escentuals, Off Broadway Shoes, Alumni Hall and Books-A-Million.
J.C. Penney led the remodeling movement, completing a more than $3 million, top-to-bottom renovation of its 122,000-square-foot store in July. The work included construction of a "Sephora Inside JCPenney" store, which opened in June.
The Children's Place store on Level Two also underwent an extensive remodel.
Two stores relocated and remodeled:
Earlier this month the mall announced it would create a "women's neighborhood" shopping experience with the addition of Sephora, Coach, Francesca's Collections and White House Black Market.
McCracken said Sephora, a retailer of beauty care and fragrances, decided to open an in-line, freestanding store after witnessing the success of its "Sephora Inside JCPenney" outlet.
"What we find is that in centers where there can be a stand-alone Sephora and a 'Sephora Inside JCPenney,' both do extremely well," she said. "I think you'll find it is the same with Coach," a leather goods company.
"Macy's has a very successful Coach Department," McCracken said. "The new Coach store will be just under 3,500 square feet of space, and they do extremely well where their markets are similarly sold in a department store."
Francesca's Collections offers women's fashion apparel and accessories. The store is going into the space currently occupied by Kid Country Toys. For that reason, Kid Country Toys is relocating to the former Inspired store in Macy's Court.
"That's a very small space," McCracken said. "We anticipate they will ultimately move into the former AT&T space at Macy's Court, which is currently leased on a temporary basis to Lou Wendell Marine. We would like to see Kid Country take the AT&T and Inspire locations. We're currently negotiating with them to consider both locations."
White House Black Market is described as a fashion store targeting women 25 years of age and older.
With the addition of the "women's neighborhood" and a Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurant, which is scheduled to open next to Five Guys this spring, the mall will already have 12,000 square feet of new or remodeled space in 2012.
McCracken said Forest City Enterprises, the mall's manager, is currently negotiating with several national retailers, "so we're anticipating further announcements later in the year."