Economic Development

Cafaro to Name Tenant for Sears Space in January

NILES, Ohio – A new tenant is expected to occupy the former Sears department store space at the Eastwood Mall by fall 2020, says Cafaro Co. co-president Anthony Cafaro Jr. Friday. 

The Cafaro Co. will announce who the tenant is in January, Cafaro told members of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber Friday at the chamber’s Good Morning, Niles! breakfast at the mall. 

“The entire Mahoning Valley is going to be excited about it when we’re able to make the announcement here in January,” Cafaro said. Discussions with the prospective tenant began about five years ago, he said.  

Details for the lease are still being worked out, Cafaro Co. spokesman Joe Bell confirmed.

Should the deal be finalized, the mall store would be the company’s first in the Mahoning Valley and perhaps only its second Ohio location, Cafaro said. 

The company would occupy the entire 120,000-square-foot space vacated when Sears closed, according to Bell. “Assuming all goes well, the new tenant would take all of it and maybe more,” he said. 

“It’s definitely in the traditional retail category, and it’s somebody that has kind of bucked the trend, so to speak, in recent years. When other retailers have been struggling, their trajectory has been positive,” Cafaro said, noting a grand opening is expected by October 2020. 

Cafaro joined a slate of speakers at the event: Niles Mayor Steven Mientkiewicz, Niles City Schools superintendent Anne Marie Thigpen and Renee Malutic, owner of MiMe Global, the winner of the mall’s Small Shop Showdown, among others. 

Cafaro acknowledged that the mall isn’t immune to the challenges facing brick-and-mortar retailers, as evidenced by the bankruptcy filings of national chains Forever 21 and Kitchen Collection, both of which have stores in the Eastwood Mall.   

“We’re going to have to evolve, reinvest and redevelop at a more rapid pace than ever before, and here at Eastwood we’re meeting the challenge head on,” he said. “Over the next 18 months, tens of millions of dollars will be reinvested in the Eastwood complex, including what we anticipate to be the groundbreaking of Enterprise Park.” 

January also will bring the start of construction on the new Eastwood Event Center, with the first event taking place in October, he noted.  

Cafaro praised the pro-business support of the city administration in Niles. “Instead of creating obstacles, the city of Niles supports the efforts of businesses like us by minimizing bureaucracy and red tape,” he said. 

“We are working every day to make Niles a great place and provide some vision and some structure for years to come,” Mientkiewicz said. 

Niles Mayor Steven Mientkiewicz

The city has a proposal before City Council to offer reduced electric rates to new businesses opening in the downtown. Qualifying businesses would see a 25% reduction in rates for the first year of the agreement, with rates gradually rising until they reach the full level in the sixth year of the agreement. 

“We really want to focus on revitalizing the downtown area, driving new business into the downtown area and filling some of those empty storefronts,” Mientkiewicz said.

The city also is working on restarting the community improvement corporation, partnering with Youngstown State University’s Department of Urban and Regional Studies for mapping, grant writing and research services, and creating corridor plans for U.S. Route 422 and downtown. 

The mayor also touted the progress made with the city’s finances. Having exited fiscal emergency in March, the city’s general fund is on track to end 2019 with a $9 million general fund balance.

Also during the breakfast meeting, the Niles Business Pride Award was presented to the J.A. McMahon Co. and the Avenue and Main Community Spirit Award was presented to Stoneyard Grill & Tavern. 

Pictured: Anthony Cafaro Jr., co-president of Cafaro Co., says the new tenant for the former Sears space in the Eastwood Mall will be announced in early 2020.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.