Friday, July 25, 2003

'Lifestyle mall' proposals proliferate

'Lifestyle malls" - those trendy outdoor shopping centers featuring hip retailers and the hottest restaurants - are all the rage among consumers and developers. That explains why at least five lifestyle mall proposals, some firmer than others, are being floated in Northern Kentucky.

The latest pitch comes out of Crescent Springs along Anderson Road and includes property now housing a mobile home park and a few small businesses, including the SpeakEasy tavern and restaurant.

Land owners report being contacted by an unidentified development group interested in snatching up property to develop a retail center that would be similar but smaller than the region's prototype for lifestyle malls, Rookwood Commons in Norwood.

There seems to be almost a race to see which community will land the first lifestyle mall. Other proposed projects are in:

Florence: City officials are lobbying owners of Florence Mall to add some lifestyle component to Northern Kentucky's signature retail center.

Erlanger: City officials are trying to entice a developer to build a multi-use project that would include restaurants, shops, green space corridors, upscale housing and office space on a 200-acre site off Donaldson Road near Showcase Cinemas.

Newport: Though plans have stalled for now, the city would still like to see a mall developed in the Cote Brilliante neighborhood adjacent to Interstate 471.

Crestview Hills. The Kenton suburb kicked-off the lifestyle mall craze late last year when it began formulating plans to transform the mostly vacant Crestview Hills Mall into a Rookwood Commons-type retail center. The city and the mall - which would retain the popular Dillard's Department Store - are even working with the developer of Rookwood Commons, Jeffrey Anderson.

But some backers of the Crestview Hills plan are starting to express concerns that the plan to revitalize the mall is moving too slowly. Those with knowledge of the negotiations between Anderson and the mall's owner say all sides are working to get a deal done so the transformation can begin.

There is one major development at the mall. Ground has been broken for the Carrabba's Italian Grill set to open this fall.

But the city is still waiting on a commitment from Trio, the east-side Cincinnati restaurant that had originally pledged to build in the mall's parking lot but has yet to sign a deal.

Buried, not dead

The Beechwood Tigers football team, winners of eight Class A state titles, have been known to bury opponents at their field in Fort Mitchell.

But rumors that graves were unearthed during the excavation for Beechwood's new artificial playing surface are untrue, according to Superintendent Fred Bassett.

Some broken headstones were uncovered during the work, but not because the football field was built over a cemetery.

"Apparently at one time a monument company used what became one end of the field to dump discarded, broken headstones," Bassett said.


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