Westdale tenants get 90-day notices to vacate

Decision to close specialty tenant areas 'should not come as a surprise to anyone,' developer says

Demolition will begin at Westdale Mall in January as part of a $90 million renovation project. (Adam Wesley/Gazette-KCRG
Demolition will begin at Westdale Mall in January as part of a $90 million renovation project. (Adam Wesley/Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Westdale Mall tenants on Tuesday began receiving registered letters informing them that they have until March 31 to move out of the 34-year-old retail complex.

John Frew, on behalf of Westdale CR Ventures LLC, the owner of the mall, issued a statement saying the specialty tenant portion of the mall connecting the four larger anchor tenants will be closed the final day of March.

"We intend to demolish this portion of the mall along with the building most recently leased by Linn County," said Frew, president of Frew Development Group of Denver, Colo. "J.C. Penney and Younkers will remain open for business and will be unaffected."

Frew said the "difficult decision to close the specialty tenant area should not come as a surprise to anyone."

"We have tried to find new space for tenants who want to stay, but that is not immediately possible," Frew said. "We recognize the difficult days ahead as these tenants move into new locations and have provided them additional time to allow for a smooth transition."

Frew Development is overseeing a $90 million redevelopment of Westdale, which has lost many of its tenants over the years. The specialty tenant portion of the mall has sustained significant structural damage due to deferred maintenance by previous ownership, including a roof that leaks in many areas and foundation that has settled as much as six inches.

The vacant former Von Maur anchor building initially was proposed as a "holding" space for displaced specialty tenants, but Frew indicated that his company was negotiating with a potential single tenant for the two-story building.

An agreement with J.C. Penney will enable Frew Development to begin demolishing portions of Westdale on Jan. 16. Penney, an original tenant of the mall, held up the demolition and redevelopment work earlier this year while it negotiated an investment agreement with Frew Development.

The Cedar Rapids City Council last month agreed to  provide $5 million in upfront money for use by the Westdale project, as called for in the existing development agreement between the city and the developer. The city will recoup this money from tax-incentive revenue that comes with the added value of the redevelopment.The City Council also agreed to extend the TIF arrangement for two additional years.

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