New: Sycamore Mall to be rebranded Iowa City Marketplace

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[Source: “New: Sycamore Mall to be rebranded Iowa City Marketplace,” Daily Iowan, 24 September 2013, Quentin Misiag]

After recent month-over-month announcements of store closings and the loss of its most prominent anchor store, officials with an Iowa City shopping center appear to be developing a clearer vision regarding its future.

Officials with the owners of Sycamore Mall, the more than 40-year-old mall on the city’s East Side, and a local architectural design firm have released preliminary designs for its redevelopment.

In a Tuesday press release, mall management company Core Realty Holdings and Shive-Hattery announced the rebranding of the center and its new name: Iowa City Marketplace.

“This is a great opportunity to incorporate new national trends in the commercial market into Iowa City and Sycamore Mall is proving to be a great place to start,” Mark Seabold, Shive-Hattery Architect, said in the release. “The mall has seen its share of vacancies in recent months, but this rebranding will open the area up to greater possibilities, while synergizing with its established tenants.”

Large-scale enhancements to the mall will occur in phases will result in the new concept serving an array of uses, officials say.

A new exterior plaza at the former main entrance will come about with the removal of leased space and will be one example of providing interior and exterior areas for social gathering.

But the new concept — an open flow, multi-use design — is not exclusive to the Iowa City market. Mirroring national trends found in states such as Arizona, California, Texas, and Illinois, several Iowa communities have followed the often lofty and pricey commercial idea recently.

Des Moines’ once long-struggling Southridge Mall continues to see redevelopment and reconstruction and now includes several new retail stores, a synthetic ice skating center, and a branch for Des Moines Area Community College.

Many centers transform the current structure into a social space by converging dining, entertainment and mixed-use areas together.

The hope, development officials say, is to create a free flowing environment that engages the visitors in a meaningful way. Negotiations are currently underway with potential tenants that share in these same ideals, the release said.

“By researching many different tenant concepts from schools to grocery to fabrication studios, the thought is to create a variety of reasons to visit the Iowa City Marketplace and provide something very different from the other retail experiences in the local area,” Seabold said.

Tuesday’s news comes in light of a July 11 announcement by Core and Sycamore Mall officials of a Von Maur departure agreement and the partnering with Shive-Hattery.

Follow The Daily Iowan as this story develops.

—By Quentin Misiag

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