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Har Mar Mall to be sold [Jan. 2nd, 2007|04:51 pm]
Como Park and St Anthony Park

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According to the Star Tribune today, it looks like Har Mar Mall is in the process of being sold by an Australian company to a New York company. I've often wondered since I moved to Saint Paul if (or really when) Har Mar will become a dead mall. It's already got a few dead mall hallmarks like a recruiting station and the fact that it's mostly crappy discount stores, but they're our crappy discount stores, so hopefully another owner will see it that way and keep Har Mar open.

Here is the Labelscar.com entry mentioned in the article.

Har Mar could thrive in spite of shakeups

Though the Roseville landmark recently lost its 11-screen movie theater to Rosedale, the mall still has a lot going for it with its location and its quirky charm, some observers say.

By Eric Hanson, Star Tribune

Last update: January 02, 2007 – 3:38 PM
A few weeks after the closing of one of its major tenants, an 11-screen AMC theater, Har Mar Mall in Roseville appears to be in the process of being sold as part of a mega-deal between two large real estate firms.

Centro Properties Group, the Australian firm that owns Har Mar Mall, announced it was selling 36 malls, most of them in the Midwestern United States, to a New York firm called Emmes & Company.

Representatives from the two companies would not discuss Har Mar Mall specifically because the deal will not close until late January, but store managers within the mall confirmed the sale.

It's unclear what the effect of losing the theater has been on the mall because shopping there spiked during the holidays, according to store managers who were contacted for this story.

Those managers would not go on record, but one restaurant manager said the loss of the theater has hurt his nighttime business, and he expressed hope that a new tenant will be an entertainment-type complement to the restaurants there.

Two others said the theater's absence has had no apparent effect, though one did say their business has in the past had more customers on weekend nights because of the crowds going to the theater.

Mike Sims, vice president of retail for the Bloomington real estate firm United Properties, said the future of Har Mar -- even without the theater -- is bright because of its proximity to Rosedale and its prominence on Snelling Avenue, a major north/south route.

"I view it as an opportunity," he said. "Har Mar is still a very viable, well-positioned property in that Rosedale trade area. ... That's still a very desirable property, and if they can configure it right, it could be an opportunity."

With its hodgepodge add-ons over the years, Har Mar -- named for its original owners Harold and Marie Slawik -- exudes a quirky charm for fans and has become a local pop culture reference point, from the singer Har Mar Superstar to lyrics by the band the Hold Steady.

"It's essentially a strip mall cobbled together into an indoor mall," writes Ross Schendel on his retail history blog Labelscar.com -- named for the mark left behind after a store's sign is removed from a mall's exterior.

"It failed to compete with the glitzier, bigger Rosedale Center just up the street and reinvented itself by replacing the anchors with big-box stores and off-price, nontraditional anchors and stores," Schendel writes.

Melanie Bell, a spokeswoman for AMC, said the old theater typically captured about 5 percent of the Twin Cities moviegoing audience. AMC's new theater, which opened in December at Rosedale's new Plaza addition, has been getting about 7 to 10 percent of the metro audience.

Vacancies are rare in the area, Sims said, so Har Mar's managers should look for something that would complement and not "cannibalize" existing businesses such as Cub Foods, Marshall's and Barnes & Noble.

I was just at Har Mar today getting my half-price calendar at Barnes & Noble. Someone once told me that Har Mar's B&N is the largest B&N in the state. Anyone have any truth to that rumor or any other nuggets of Har Mar wisdom to share?
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