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Branson Landing occupancy rebounds

New and soon-to-arrive stores have the retail center at 97% capacity

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After a slew of tenant shuffling last year that brought occupancy levels below 90 percent, Branson Landing is bouncing back.

Tenant occupancy, including signed leases for businesses opening later this year, has boosted the Landing to 97 percent capacity, said Rick Huffman, CEO of HCW Development Co. LLC, which built and owns the $420 million outdoor retail center along Lake Taneycomo.

“That’s pretty good for a retail center – very good, in fact,” he said.

It also places the Branson center above the national average for U.S. shopping center industry rates, according to statistics from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. In a report released in March from the International Council of Shopping Centers, national occupancy levels have hovered at 93 percent the past three years.

Branson Landing’s occupancy rate dipped as a number of 10-year leases expired last year. It opened in 2007. Factoring in several additional store closures, due to struggling sales, the level dropped to as low as 86 percent, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting at the time.

Huffman and team have been on a mission to turn that tide.

“We’ve been hustling on the streets looking for tenants as leases expire,” he said.

Some aggressive recruiting netted international clothing retailer H&M to the Landing. It opened at the end of last month.

HCW began speaking with the retailer’s parent company, H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, in May 2017 and was able to accommodate its desire to occupy a large building in the retail center.

The store fills a 21,000-square-foot space at the town square area. Chico’s, a women’s clothing chain, was relocated to a storefront nearby to make room for H&M, Huffman said.

“They wanted to be in the market area,” he said. “We’re very happy to have H&M at the Brandon Landing. They will do very well there.”

Two more big projects will debut at the retail center by year’s end. Andy B’s Entertainment & Bowling Center is opening a 19,000-square-foot entertainment venue in the fall, while LandShark Bar & Grill, a sister property to Margaritaville, is coming this winter. The 7,100-square-foot restaurant will replace the shuttered Texas Land & Cattle.

Huffman said LandShark is in the midst of an extensive remodel of the building, and it will feature a large patio overlooking the high-profile water fountain show.

Another new addition to the 95-acre complex will be ready for occupancy in 2019, said Jennifer Dellinger, director of marketing with HCW. Approximately 20,000 square feet will be constructed on the north side of the property, with a planned 15,000 dedicated to a restaurant and 4,800 in retail, she said.

The restaurant space has been leased, Huffman said, but a nondisclosure clause prevents him from revealing the identity at this time. He said it’s probably the last of available construction space for the retail center.

Of existing space, Dellinger said only 5,177 square feet remains available for lease. She said turnover in the past year or so has been a lot more than typical at the Landing, but she foresees stability as new tenants sign multiyear leases.

With a roster of 88 tenants under lease and little space to fill, Huffman and Dellinger said reaching 100 percent occupancy is definitely possible. Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar and Pendleton are the only current spaces vacant, Dellinger said.

“We’re very, very busy with very high demand,” Huffman said. “Right now, the Landing is doing very well, and they want to be in the market and in Branson.”

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