Construction is underway on Dick’s Sporting Goods in what is perhaps the most visible sign of Lakeshore Mall’s $20 million-plus redevelopment efforts.
Workers spent Wednesday afternoon pouring footings at what will be the 50,000-square-foot store, filling an empty space between Sears and J.C. Penney Co. and the rest of the mall.
“We’re thinking the soft opening for the store will be in early October,” said Kirsten Boettcher, the mall’s marketing manager.
“That’s the main thing right now. Our leasing is working tirelessly to find retailers that will be the right fit for the mall.”
Boettcher said the mall is looking at a couple of restaurants to fill space at the mall “and one of them is working on a lease.” She added that she couldn’t name names, just yet.
Several stores, including GNC, LensCrafters and Body Central Corp., were relocated late last year as part of the renovation.
Earlier this year, Great American Cookies celebrated its grand reopening, Kay Jewelers moved into its new location at the mall and national retailer Shoe Show opened its Shoe Dept. Encore store.
Also, the Gainesville City Council has approved making the 50-acre property a tax allocation district, which means tax money could be raised for public infrastructure financing.
As far as other major changes at the mall, J.C. Penney has until September “to decide what course of action they will take — whether they will renovate their existing building or build a brand new one,” Boettcher said.
No changes to Sears are scheduled at this time, she added.
The Firestone Complete Auto Care store, which sat as an outparcel at the mall facing Pearl Nix Parkway, was demolished as part of the Dick’s project, “to open up the area in front of their main entrance,” Boettcher said.
She wasn’t sure of Firestone’s status, but “I do know that (it) is looking for a new spot around here (locally),” she said.
The mall’s makeover also will involve work compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act “to the exterior of the mall, as well as landscaping improvements.”
Lakeshore Mall, owned by New York-based Garrison Investment Group since September 2010, has said the renovation work could be finished by 2015, but “it kind of depends on what’s happening with J.C. Penney,” Boettcher said.
Plans for the mall’s carousel — once a popular attraction near the food court — are still unsettled.
“We hope to bring it back soon,” Boettcher said. “It would be outside on the mall perimeter.”