By Joe Bell
Director of Corporate Communications, Cafaro Company
NILES, Ohio – Given the stranglehold the pandemic put on business expansion in 2021, it is all the more remarkable that there continued to be new additions to the Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles and other properties owned and managed by The Cafaro Company.
At the Eastwood Complex, it was easy to see big projects come to fruition. The long-awaited Boscov’s department store finally opened its doors in October. At 182,000 square feet, it is the largest retail store in the Mahoning Valley. More important, it was the only all-new department store to open in the entire nation last year. The grand opening, which turned into a month-long schedule of events, brought out thousands of people, a mix of inveterate shoppers, bargain-hunters and the merely curious.
Boscov’s may have been the biggest addition to the mall but it wasn’t the only source of growth.
The iconic shoe emporium known as Reyers moved from Sharon, Pa., to a new location inside Eastwood. It was a huge leap of faith for a family-owned business that was a fixture in one city for 135 years. But it turned out to be a great move, with long-time customers following their favorite shoe store to its new address.
At the same time, other new retailers were quickly following suit. Infinite Gaming Consortium, another store that originated in Sharon, launched its second location at the mall. Ladies apparel boutiques Lavish by Coral Rose and Truth Fashion opened their doors. So did the Shutterbox Selfie Studio and Fits of Fury.
There were plenty of early indications of continuing growth on the Eastwood Complex. Interior renovation began on a former buffet restaurant that will transform it into King Cajun Seafood, which will open in 2022.
Oh, and what happened to that huge building that used to be a Super Kmart? By December, it was demolished to make way for what will become the Valley’s second Meijer Superstore. A gas station and convenience store will complement the nearly 160,000-square-foot retail facility.
To the northwest, in Sandusky, big changes were happening to another Cafaro shopping center. Sandusky Mall has undergone radical redevelopment. A portion of the facility was “deconstructed” to provide better visibility and access to new and existing stores. The Shoe Dept. Encore store relocated to a larger space. A former department store was renovated to create room for four new stores: Five Below, Ross Dress for Less, TJMaxx and Dewey Furniture. An all-new Hobby Lobby opened in a stand-alone building and a popular new restaurant, Another Broken Egg Café, was introduced to the community. Plans are underway to develop an additional 32-acre portion of the property.
Something new for the Cafaro Co. is diversification into residential property, which it is doing at a location just south of Washington, D.C. At Spotsylvania Towne Centre in Fredericksburg, Va., work has begun to create a 271-unit luxury apartment complex known as Aura at Towne Centre.
The decision to venture into the realm of housing is largely driven by the changing nature of the shopping center industry. What used to be simply places to buy merchandise has evolved to include more of what consumers need to go about their day-to-day lives. What were once traditional shopping malls now include a greater variety of restaurants, theaters, professional services, gaming venues, fitness centers and, yes, places that people call home.
Expect to see more of that in the years to come.
The Cafaro Company, founded in 1949, employs 750 nationwide.