Von Maur opens and West Towne Mall gets a much-needed boost
The Boston store that once occupied the West Towne Mall had two floors of merchandise covering 140,000 square feet, making it one of Madison‘s largest retailers.
But when it closed in 2018, it left a void here at the same time as the now closed Sears store was downsizing and the nearby Toy’s R Us was closing its doors. The Apple store had moved to Hilldale a year prior and in January 2019 Shopko, located across the West Towne parking lot, would announce that it was closing its stores, leaving another glaring retail hole in the market.
And although there are at least 11 empty storefronts and a few others operating with reduced hours in West Towne, the mall received a major boost this week when Von Maur opened the doors to its 85-storey store. 000 square feet filled with high end clothing. , shoes, handbags and cosmetics.
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The store, with 60 employees but looking for 19 more, opened quietly on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, the one-story business that sits on the same site as the old Boston store teeming with customers and giving hope at the mall which opened in 1970 and, like every other mall in the country, is trying to reimagine its future.
“Over the years, Von Maur has been one of the most requested names by our customers, and we are delighted to announce their addition to West Towne Mall,” said Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of CBL Properties, owner of West Towne, in a statement. in 2019 when Von Maur announced its construction. “This new store will drive significant traffic to the property and illustrates our continued commitment to improving the tenant mix.”
Von Maur was founded in 1872 in downtown Davenport and now has 36 stores in 15 states. The company has more than 4,500 employees and an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion.
In 2017, Von Maur first entered Wisconsin when he opened a 150,000 square foot store in The Corners of Brookfield, located at Highway 18 and Interstate 94. The Madison store was slated to open in the fall of 2021, but the pandemic forced the project to close until the end of 2020, which delayed the opening by a year.
The Madison store, with a newly paved parking lot dotted with trees, also features an entrance inside the mall where customers are greeted by an extensive shoe department on the right and women’s clothing on the left of the main aisle. There are shelves filled with Coach handbags, display cases with Gucci and Tory Burch sunglasses, an extensive jewelry department filled with gold, silver and Skagen and Michael Kors watches. The men’s department is complete with a wooden canoe suspended from the ceiling and a diverse clothing line including suits and ties, flannel shirts and Tommy Bahama bathrobes. Need a shirt made in Italy for Bugatchi? It will cost you $179.
“We have top quality merchandise,” said Samantha Mackling, general store manager who has been with the company for 11 years. “Service is our number one priority and I don’t think you can find this level of service anywhere else.”
The opening of the Von Maur, which will compete directly with Macy’s and other high-end stores in Hilldale, is the latest addition to the mix of new entities in and around West Towne which includes a Dave & Busters, Total Wine and Hobby Lobby in the former Sears space. Urban Air Adventure Park is in the former Toys R Us building and construction of a Portillo’s restaurant was completed in 2021 on the site of the former Sears Automotive Center. Meanwhile, there have been high-end additions at outbuildings like Gruno’s Diamonds, Lane Bryant and Nordstrom Rack while work is underway to convert the former Shopko space into Crunch Fitness.
And as Hilldale expands south and Madison Yards recruits retailers for its new development on former Department of Transportation property at University Avenue and Segoe Road, the City of Madison in 2021 released a vision for a land of nearly 172 acres. strip of land, a big part of West Towne. The plan, part of the Odana Area Plan that covers 1,000 acres of land, envisions a mix of housing, office buildings, bike lanes, sidewalks and parks, all adjacent to a line of rapid transit by bus.
Acres of surface parking would largely disappear, and Odana Road could be extended west and dissect the mall to help improve access and create more of a city feel to the property. A phase envisages the removal of the center of the mall and its replacement by a park.
Retail would continue to be part of the mall and Von Maur doubled down on this concept with the opening of its new store in West Towne.
“This mall is in a great location and accessible to everyone. It’s easily accessible from the freeway and other streets,” Mackling said. “It brings the mall back to life.”
Photos: Take a look inside the new Von Maur store at the West Towne Mall