To-day the course of my affairs required me to visit the Mall at Cortana. Cortana has certainly declined from its halycon days, but insofar business has held constant at a lower but steady level. But lo, what a shock I was in for to-day.
Part of the journey intent was to document the husk of the failed Steve and Barry's, the most recent of two anchor vacancies at this ostensibly six anchor mall:
The closing was recent, so the signage is still installed. But no longer are cheep sweatshirts sold here.
Now inside the mall, I was tempted to stay put for a spell and grab a bite to eat. But what a shock I was in for:
Cortana has in recent years fallen prone to inline vacancies, symptomatic of a declined enclosed center, but their level was low enough to be tolerable. But the number of empty storefronts had clearly grown since my last visit, to the point where the number was alarming and certainly not indicative of a commercially stable shopping center.
Looks like the past holiday season had not been kind to Cortana, for the stores had evaporated quite rapidly. I clearly remember many of the now empty spaces being occupied not too long ago.
I would guess that the vacancy rate is now around 40 percent. This is the sign of retail free fall.
The mall foot traffic was still quite constant, though of course nowhere near the level of a Mall of Louisiana or some such.
And of those stores remaining, about half were clearly "local" brands, with the other half comprised of the usual national retailers. A fair proportion of surviving stores were shoe and athletic apparel stores - always popular in the 'hood.
As is clear, even the kiosks are having trouble leasing.
Some tenants are clearly marked for extinction. Stores that rely on discretionary purchases such as Bath and Body Works and Limited appeared treacherously empty and are certainly hanging by a thread.
It would appear that the depression has finally made its mark in BR retail, with the weakest players feeling the pinch of collapsing incomes and economic dislocation. I can safely predict that there is no possible way that the Mall of Cortana will be open in five years.
Better get started on another greyfield redevelopment plan...