For Immediate Release

Melinda Medlin, Thompson & Baker
Andy Groveman, Belz Enterprises


Aggressive Redesign by Belz Enterprises
Reverses Fortunes of Park Place Centre

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, January 25, 1999 -- By turning the Park Place Mall inside out, Belz Enterprises has been able to turn vacancies there upside-down.

In fact, when the Zany Brainy toy shop and the Hallmark Cards store opened recently, the Park Place Centre, as it is now called, hit a milestone: it became 95 percent occupied. That certainly is a far cry from the way things once were only a few years ago.

Belz Enterprises purchased the 250,000 square feet of retail space at the corner of Park Avenue and Ridgeway in the spring of 1996 from the American National Insurance Company. At that time, the once-busy mall had deteriorated into an almost vacant shell. Some of the shops on the exterior of the mall were still in business, but most of the ones inside had closed.

The location, however, certainly had potential. Situated in East Memphis, less than two miles from Germantown, the property’s demographics reflected customers with an average income of $80,000.

"The building, as it was, had lived a useful life, but that life was now over," said Morris Thomas, vice president of brokerage and leasing, at Belz Enterprises. "We decided it had to be converted from a mall into a shopping center. We wanted to virtually empty it out and turn it inside-out."

Thomas said the property was too small to be a mall.

"These days you need about four times that amount of space to operate a successful mall," said Thomas. "You have to create enough synergy for a customer to want to spend at least a half-day there. Park Place just wasn’t big enough."

It was hard to persuade some of the remaining tenants to close their doors for the year that was needed for the transformation to take place. Indeed, Thomas had special praise for Loehmann’s Inc., Miller Protective Service Inc., and Oshman’s Sporting Goods for staying open during the entire construction period.

Miller Protective Service occupies a good portion of the second-floor office space.

"At one point, Miller literally had the floor torn out from under them," Thomas said. "But they stayed with us."

Not only did Belz turn the building inside out; the company improved the signage as well as the exterior’s overall appearance. The mix of retailers also was improved to a better blend of locally-owned businesses, such as Little Lambs and Ivy, Mailboxes Etc and Alpha Graphics, with companies with nationally-recognized names.

Some of the national companies that have joined the mix are Amerigo restaurant, Zany Brainy and Hallmark. In fact, the Hallmark shop is a Crown Store – one that is operated by Hallmark itself.

It took about 10 months to redesign the facility, but all agree it was worth the effort. Not only is Park Place Centre 95 percent occupied, but retailers there report outstanding sales during the recent holiday season.

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