Incoming tenants at the Mall in Columbia will have revitalized spaces at their new locations as construction starts to phase in about a dozen new retailers and restaurants within the next year.
The mall, owned by General Growth Properties, announced a new wave of tenants in April and again in June, welcoming Sub Zero Ice Cream on June 15 and Z Gallerie home decor on June 30.
Over the next year and a half, new stores and eateries will include Main Event Entertainment, Barnes & Noble and Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe on what was the second floor of Sears; The Walrus Oyster & Ale House at the former Uno's Pizzeria & Grill; and Shake Shack in part of the space left behind by Champps Americana.
Senior general manager Barb Nicklas this week also confirmed two more tenants coming to the mall: Bibibop Asian Grill in mid-July and Soft Surroundings women's apparel in May 2018. The Korean restaurant will open at the former ShopHouse location along the plaza, Nicklas said, with Soft Surroundings located in the Nordstrom wing of the mall. Chipotle's ShopHouse closed in March.
Nicklas said the second level of Sears, including its facade, is currently being demolished to make way for the three future tenants. The escalator inside the store will be removed and crews will increase the load capacity to create stability for the new tenants.
The three tenants will each have their own space on the second floor, Nicklas said.
"With any space in a mall, when you see it being built out, it's like one big space," Nicklas said. "Then, you put up the walls between tenants based upon the size of that particular store."
GGP is expected to go before the Howard County Planning Board July 6 to review and approve the second-floor site. According to the planning board's technical staff report, Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe will use the majority of space at 51,905 square feet, while 16,580 square feet will go to Main Event Entertainment and 10,785 square feet for Barnes & Noble.
The facade will be upgraded with an outdoor plaza and seating area built at the former Sears entrance to look similar to the current plaza and walkway.
After board approval, Nicklas said GGP will hand the space over to the tenants for construction. Century Engineering will oversee the project, according to the technical staff report.
"Any lease typically lays out the amount of time that the tenants have, like a maximum amount of time that they have to do the build-out," she said. "That will roughly dictate when [each tenant] is supposed to open."
On the mall outskirts, The Walrus Oyster & Ale House is already under construction at the former Uno's location, with plans to open this November. Desmond Reilly, a managing principal for the restaurant, said they will submit for building permits later this month.
"Demolition is underway [and] we expect to build this thing out quickly," Reilly said. "When we go in to an existing restaurant, we completely gut it. We keep all the mechanics intact and we completely redo the outside and inside."
The Mall in Columbia is "a fantastic location with great traffic" for the restaurant, he added.
Shake Shack is also scheduled to open this fall, and Nicklas said the mall is in active negotiations with potential tenants to move into the remaining Champps Americana space.
"We are continually in discussions [for new tenants]," Nicklas said. "Every vacancy we see — we only have a handful — we either have a deal in place or we have active prospects."