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Archive for Thursday, December 3, 1998

S EVOLUTION CONTINUES

December 3, 1998

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The Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlets soon will be losing a longtime tenant but may be near a deal to lease a big chunk of office space.

The moves continue the Plaza's evolution from strictly shopping mall to a mixed-use center.

Carter's Childrenswear is leaving at the end of the year, said David Longhurst, mall manager.

"They were trying a different kind of store, and this was a clearance center," Longhurst said Wednesday. "I would have to conclude that it didn't meet their expectations, so they decided not to continue."

Like the Tanger Factory Outlet Center in North Lawrence, the Riverfront Plaza has struggled to attract shoppers and retain stores as the popularity of outlet shopping has dwindled and retail competition has increased.

Last week, Tanger officials said the center's occupancy would fall to about 50 percent by the end of the month.

Carter's was among the Riverfront Plaza's first tenants, opening in 1992. It closed that store in 1997, and reopened with the clearance store this August.

The store occupied about 4,000 square feet of space in the 150,000-square-foot center.

Carter's is the mall's first departure since Mikasa closed its outlet in June. The departure will leave the Riverfront Plaza with an occupancy of about 73 percent.

Meanwhile, Longhurst said he expected an announcement soon on a new tenant or tenants for the Riverfront Plaza's lower level, which is being dedicated to office use while retail is consolidated on the center's two upper levels.

He declined to identify prospective tenants, but said it was possible a single company could take over the lower level's remaining 13,000 square feet.

"We've got several irons in the fire," he said. "I expect an announcement by the first quarter."

Now, Sprint Telecenters occupies 20,000 square feet of office space at the Riverfront Plaza. Sprint began operations there in May 1997, and expanded in September.

-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is rbrack@ljworld.com.

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