After years of inactivity, Claymont’s Tri-State Mall received its first sign of new life on Wednesday when a demolition claw ripped open the awning of the property’s most decrepit building.
The Levitz Furniture Outlet building, east of what remains of the Tri-State Mall on Naamans Road, already had holes in its roof after years of neglect, having closed a quarter of a century ago. Over the next month, it will be reduced to rubble, marking the start of what the mall’s new owners promise to be a new era.
What their redesign will entail has not been finalized, said Larry Tarabicos, a land use attorney representing new owner KPR Centers based in New York. Tarabicos said KPR intends to level all buildings on the approximately 40-acre property, a process that could take several years.
Stan Glantz, vice president of development and construction for KPR, said his company will revitalize the property to “the highest and best” standards. KPR’s portfolio consists primarily of small and medium-sized shopping centers in the Northeast and Florida.
Built in the late 1960s at the start of the mall building boom, the Tri-State Mall today is a shell of itself. Located north of the major Christiana and Concord malls, its fall coincided with the downturn in brick and mortar retailing in the 2000s. At various points, Kmart, Value City and Burlington Coat Factory anchored the mall .
Now the only active section is the center of the strip descending from the old main entrance to the mall. It includes Save A Lot, Dollar General, a check cashing service, pawnshop, liquor store, laundromat, nail salon, and several clothing stores.
In recent years, many have argued for the redevelopment of the Tri-State Mall property given its location along the I-95 corridor and near the Delaware-Pennsylvania border, and its proximity to other developments, including a $ 71 million train station. project at the old Evraz steelworks.
After the property’s former operator, The Rosen Group of New York, hasn’t taken action in recent years, many in the community are excited to see any kind of change taking place.
“At the moment, we have not had any discussion regarding [KPR’s] intention with the site, but we are encouraged by their actions to demolish the long abandoned building so soon after acquiring the property, ”wrote Brett Saddler, executive director of Claymont Renaissance Development Corp., a non-profit organization. lucrative that receives public funding and aims to encourage the redevelopment of the region.
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“Many in Claymont have expressed a desire for quality retail businesses and restaurants. Creating well-paying jobs is also important to our organization and most in the region.”
Growing up in Chester, PA, Joy Bevans often came to the Levitz Furniture Outlet with her family. She parked in front of the decades-old building on Wednesday as the label began to shred the entrance, delighted to hear of the redevelopment efforts.
A Delaware resident for 10 years, she still comes to the strip center to cash checks, get her nails done and shop at Dollar General.
“At the time, it wasn’t like that,” she said. “The parking lot was full, let me say it.”
Much of the parking lot and interior of the mall, which closed to the public in 2015, has been overrun with wooden pallets, steel beams and other building materials. An architectural firm called New Hudson Facades has rented much of the old mall for use as a warehouse in recent years.
The NHF material covers almost the entire parking lot in front of the old entrance to the shopping center. Shrink-wrapped pallets fill the stores and interior aisles of the mall – from tiled floors to low ceilings – and end anchors.
KPR bought the Tri-State Mall in June for $ 12.5 million, according to county records. The Rosen Group leased the property to another real estate group called Lefrak. The Delaware Business Times reported that the Rosen Group’s lease was due to expire this summer.
The property is currently regional commercial zoned, a designation that allows for retail, restaurants, hotels and offices. With retail vacancy rates at their highest level in a decade, according to Colliers International, KPR could pursue other uses such as warehouses or residential development through rezoning.
“We hope this will lift the whole place up and be something good,” said Richard Haliburton, 18-year-old owner of Tristate Got It, a clothing store in the center of the Strip.