It kind of all comes full circle again.” The shopping center, which has changed ownership over the years and currently is managed by Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, has filled some of its vacancies with nontraditional tenants such as the University of Phoenix, which opened an 18,000-square-foot student learning center in the mall’s Outdoor Village this past fall. The International Council of Shopping Centers expects some malls will continue to fill some spaces with nontraditional tenants such as karate schools, gyms or doctor’s offices, said Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the council. “Bringing people into the center for other purposes could have crossover or spillover effect in terms of shopping or retail sales.” Genesee Valley features a branch of the Genesee District Library, which has been in the mall since 2002, and has other tenants offering teeth-whitening, massage and eyebrow-shaping in the center aisles. Earlier this month, a new Merle Norman Salon & Spa opened, offering services such as massages, facials, makeup application, nail and pedicures.
The salon and spa relocated from the Courtland Center mall in Burton. Malls nationally will continue to add more dining and entertainment options in the future, as well as open-air shopping components, Tron said. Genesee Valley, which features an Outdoor Village open air shopping section, also has added American Fun Center Arcade, Portrait Innovations and Brow Art this year, and a Cinnabon is expected to open this fall near center court. Cassabon said the mall’s vacancy rate is “well below the national average” — 8.9 percent in the first quarter and the highest percentage since 2000 — and that mall retailers in the first quarter are seeing some sales growth over the same quarter in 2009. “We’ve got great tenants and a great shopper base,” she said. Shopper Brittany Coulman, 19, of Lapeer County’s Hadley Township, makes the drive to Genesee Valley over other malls because she likes to check out new fashions about once a week at one particular retailer. “I just come for The Buckle,” she said, while eating in the mall’s food court with her mom, Jackie Coulman, 48. “It’s my favorite store.” Ron and Judy Humitz, a retired couple from Argentine Township, said they come to the mall maybe three to four times a year.
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