The Ottumwa Courier

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July 30, 2013

Mall regains footing with new management, fewer vacancies

OTTUMWA — Malls across America are standing vacant or shutting down, but Ottumwa's mall is on the upswing, said its manager.

According to Green Street Advisors, a leader in real estate research, 10 percent of the nation's indoor malls will die within the decade.

But since Lexington Realty International began managing and leasing store space at Quincy Place Mall last summer, the mall will not suffer a similar fate, said mall manager Staci Shettler.

Lexington Realty International, a New Jersey-based company, owns and has revived several malls in the Midwest.

Ottumwa's 23-year-old, 243,399-square-foot mall has two anchor tenants: Herberger's and J.C. Penney's. According to LRI, since it took over last year, expenses have already been lowered 40 percent and the mall has four new tenants: rue21 opened in October, Bubba-Q's opened in April, MC Sports will open Aug. 26 and Glik's will open in early October.

"It's amazing what's happening here," Shettler said. "I've been here as mall manager for a little over five years, and this is the most leasing activity I've seen in five years by far, and probably more so than in the past 10 years. Of course there are other things in the works ... that we just can't speak about yet, but obviously we're concentrating on leasing out any of the vacancies we have."

When the mall was purchased last summer, it was 63 percent occupied. Today, that's grown to 81 percent. And, she said, 100 percent occupancy is possible.

She has worked at the mall in some capacity for the last 17 years and has "seen it at its best and at its worst."

"When I took this job five years ago, I took it knowing what the mall could be and knowing there was potential here, and with the right management and right owners, it could be revitalized," she said.

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