By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CRESTVIEW HILLS - Dillard's will consider building a new department store here if a deal can be reached to redevelop the nearly vacant Crestview Hills Mall into Northern Kentucky's first outdoor lifestyle center.
Cincinnati developer Jeff Anderson, best known for building and now expanding the trendy Rookwood Commons lifestyle center mall in Norwood, told Crestview Hills city officials Tuesday that Dillard's will either remodel its present store or rebuild if the old mall is razed and redeveloped into a lifestyle center.
Anderson, who appeared before council's Economic and Development Committee to update officials on his plans, said Dillard's owners were in town last week to go over plans for the new lifestyle center.
Working with Dillard's and the mall's Kansas City ownership group, Anderson is trying to reach a development deal by the end of the year, begin construction by April and open the 500,000-square-foot lifestyle center by the summer of 2005.
"Dillard's said they may want to build a new (200,000-square-foot) store to make it up to speed with what we want to do," Anderson said. "They want to see something happen here."
Anderson hasn't yet signed tenants, but he ticked off the types of upscale retailers he wants to attract to the mall: Galyans sporting goods, Lord & Taylor, Talbots, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor and others.
Developers in other parts of Northern Kentucky - Florence, Crescent Springs and Erlanger - are also pursuing plans for lifestyle centers.
But Anderson is convinced Crestview Hills is the best location for Northern Kentucky's first outdoor lifestyle mall, a retail concept featuring upscale tenants, walking paths, green space, fountains, ponds and trendy restaurants.
The 20-year-old Crestview Hills Mall has never been close to capacity. It now has only six permanent tenants. But it has a prime location, situated among Kenton County's affluent Dixie Highway suburbs and adjacent to Interstate 275, Northern Kentucky's main east-west corridor.
"This is the best and greatest location for this kind of mall," Anderson said. "Northern Kentucky can only support one lifestyle center. These centers are driven by tenants, and the tenants aren't going to locate in more than one mall in this area."
Anderson said five years ago he viewed the heavily wooded site off of Anderson Road in Crescent Springs where Bear Creek Capital of Cincinnati is pursing a similar style retail center.
"I looked at the property ... and I don't see how that can possibly work" as a retail location, Anderson said.
Independence lawyer Eric Deters, whose family has developed retail property in Northern Kentucky, said if the projects are first-rate, more than one might be able to make it.
"But the market would become awful saturated and it would be difficult for more than one project to survive," Deters said.
Tuesday afternoon, Anne Horlander of Crescent Springs was seated outside at Panera Bread, a restaurant and coffee shop that recently opened in the parking lot at Crestview Hills Mall.
"I would love a lifestyle center here in at the mall," she said. "When I shop now, I got to Kenwood Towne Centre or Rookwood because of the type of stores they have. Northern Kentucky needs something like that, and this location would be absolutely perfect."
But Edwina Scheben disagreed. The Erlanger resident was one of the few shoppers actually in Crestview Hills Mall Tuesday afternoon.
"An outdoor mall would be nice on a day like this," Scheben said after shopping at Dillard's. "But what about Christmas shopping and in the winter? I don't want to go outside then. I'll go to one store, but I won't walk from store to store when it's raining or snowing.
"I don't want to get my feet wet."
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