Downtown Palm Beach Gardens reinvents itself with latest makeover of stores, grounds – Palm Beach Post

Posted: June 2, 2021 at 1:57 am

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The retail and restaurant complex is trying to position itself for success amid the coronavirus pandemic and the rise of online shopping.

Bill DiPaolo | Special to The Palm Beach Post

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PALM BEACH GARDENS DowntownPalm Beach Gardens,the outdoor shopping mall known for its spinning carousel and weekend entertainment, expects to complete its latest renovation this summer.

As we navigate through this pandemic, we continue to look for ways to make the property more inviting, relaxing and safe for ourshoppers, Nina Rogers, vice president of leasing and specialty centers for ShopCore Properties, its parent company.

Improvements include:

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With the economy rebounding and northern Palm Beach County growing,Downtownis a valuable asset to continued expansion, said Noel Martinez, president and chief executiveof the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

"We need more dining options. We need more jobs.Downtownwill be a partner is all this,Martinez said.

But challenges remain for the mall, which was built in 2006 with about 50 stores on 49 acres off Kyoto Gardens Drive.

Shopping malls, with the pandemic and customers opting out of in-person shopping, have seen their sales consistently drop since their heyday in the 1980s. Back then, more than half of retail sales took place in shopping malls.

Retail experts figure about one-fourth of shopping malls open today will close in the next five years. To survive, todays malls must reinvent themselves.

Downtownalso faces competition.

The Gardens Mall, Legacy Place, PGA Commons and the Outlet Mall in West Palm Beach are just a short ride away.

The renovations should helpDowntownsurvive the completion, said Erin Devlin, regional marketing manager forShopCore Properties. The Chicago-based company leases and manages more than 50 shopping centers with a total of more than 21 million square feet in 15 states.

Now more than ever, customers are preferring to shop, dine and socialize in outdoor shopping centers and tenants are prioritizing open-air locations when looking to expand or launch a brand, he said via email.

For the 450,000-square-footDowntown, this is the second major renovation. By comparison, The Gardens Mall is 1.4 million square feet.

When Berman Enterprises boughtDowntownthrough foreclosurein 2009, company leaders told The Palm Beach Post their mission was to turn the slumbering shopper into a lifestyle center. About a third of the stores were vacant.

The new owners spent about $1.8 million in improvements.

Outdoor teak tables with red and yellow umbrellas, twin outdoor escalators, lush landscaping, bubbling fountains and music lilting from outdoor speakers were installed.

The exclamation point for the new mall was a $600,000 carousel featuring 27 handmade wooden animals such as horses, manatees, seahorses, panthers and flamingos that visitors could ride on the 32-foot-wide attraction.

The carousel is considered the public art that the city requires for all major commercial projects.

The carousel was taken apart in August for refurbishing. The animal menagerie is scheduled to return this summer at a new location on the lake on the east side of property.

Downtowns CMX movie theater, restaurants such as Yardhouse and stores such as West Elm Furniture remain open during the construction. This years summer Friday night concert series is planned to start June 4 and run through August.

Several visitors toDowntownon a recent rainy afternoon said they missed the outdoor weekend activities on the site's outdoor plaza.

Others want changes.

We used to come all the time for the concerts. If you got here early enough, you could snag a table and enjoy the show. We made lots of new friends, said Jupiter resident Karen Morrison, 27, seated with a dish of coconut storm in one of the green plastic chairs at Sloans Ice Cream.

The new parking garage is a smart idea, said Royal Palm Beach resident Jack Lombardi.

We had to park far away. That was no fun in this rain, said Lombardi, 56, as he stood in line at CMX with his two young sons to see "Godzilla vs. King Kong."

Others want more signs to tell them where and what stores are open.

Those concerns are being addressed, said Devlin.

Our tenant visibility is a primary focus to ensure the community can easily navigate the center, he said.

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Downtown Palm Beach Gardens reinvents itself with latest makeover of stores, grounds - Palm Beach Post

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