by Karen E. Culp
EyeMasters is under construction in the Battlefield Mall, which has seen a lot of new tenants and redesign during the past year, said mall General Manager Karen Geary.
"It seems as though there have been more changes this year than ever before. We've seen a lot of activity," Geary said.
EyeMasters will open an "optical superstore" in 3,150 square feet of space in the Battlefield Mall. The space is now under construction, said Becky Lykins, field marketing manager for Eye Care Centers of America, the parent company of EyeMasters.
The store will open Sept. 25, Lykins said.
The store is similar to other mall optical stores, with an independent eye doctor in an adjacent site and most eyeglasses provided within an hour. Eye Care Centers of America owns 260 eye-care stores under four different names, depending on the region the centers are in.
The company has eight EyeMasters stores in the Kansas City area, Lykins said. Springfield was a good location for the company because the Kansas City stores have been so successful, she added.
The EyeMasters store will employ seven to 10 people, and the doctor's office will also have its own staff.
Another change in the mall is in the Shadow Adventure arcade, which will become the Millennium Family Fun Center following Millennium's purchase of the Shadow Adventure company, said Marty Brickey, who owns Sector Entertainment, a company that is a partner with Millennium.
The Shadow Adventure arcade is now closed, but it will reopen in about 45 days under the new name. Shadow Adventure was a Minnesota-based company; Millennium is based out of Las Vegas.
Sears is also expanding in the mall, adding about 40,000 square feet to its existing retail center, Geary said. The store will be expanding into part of the mall's parking space, and the mall is getting close to capacity in terms of its parking space-to-retail space ratio.
"We still have a little wiggle room, but we're getting awfully close to being at capacity," Geary said.
Earlier this year, the mall saw the opening of Old Navy, a moderately priced clothing store. That store opened in May, and Ethan Allen, a longstanding Springfield furniture store, announced plans to move into the mall from its South Campbell location.
Ethan Allen is in a temporary space now, but will move into the former Century 21 movie theater in November.
Other stores that have opened in the mall during 1998 include Journeys, a shoe store; Pacific Sunwear; Northern Reflections, a clothing store; and Whitehall Jewelers.
The Battlefield Mall opened in Springfield in 1973 and is now owned by the Simon DeBartolo Group, Geary said.
Though the mall has a heavy emphasis on national retail chains, about 20 percent of its stores are locally or regionally owned.
"We try to keep an 80-20 percent ratio of national-to-local stores. A lot of people don't realize that we have as many local and regional retailers as we do," Geary said.
Keeping the local flavor is important to any retail center, Geary said.
"You've got to have some opportunities for local folks. And even when our retailers are national, they're hiring from right here in Springfield. The people who benefit from their business are right here," Geary said.
Though it is "as full as we can be" right now, more changes are inherent in the mall, Geary said.
"Shopping centers are constantly changing and updating. We are close to reaching our capacity for expanding, but we will undoubtedly continue to have change and growth," Geary said.
The mall will probably not add any significant square footage, since it is "landlocked" in terms maintaining the city-mandated ratio of store space to parking space.
"And I don't think putting an extra floor on this thing was ever part of the plan," Geary said.
The mall is considered a super-regional center and is 1.1 million square feet. About 74 percent of its market is within a 45-minute drive, Geary said.
"There's a large slice of our market right here. That means we're always busy and full," Geary said.
Battlefield Mall General Manager Karen Geary said the addition of new stores and new construction is bringing the mall to full capacity.[[In-content Ad]]
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