The new owners say their plans for a mixed-use building -- with both retail and office space -- are forging ahead.
The Lawrence group buying the riverfront mall said Tuesday it was in talks with a dozen potential new tenants, and that the mall sale is on track to close later this month.
"We're looking at a good solid floor, and possibly a floor and a half, of retail space," said Dan Simons of Riverfront LLC, the local group buying the three-level mall.
Simons also is director of new ventures for The World Co., which owns the Journal-World.
When Riverfront LLC confirmed it was buying the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlets late last year, it said the plan was to operate it as a retail and office building while The World Co., which also owns Sunflower Cablevision, evaluated its space needs. That is still happening, Simons said, but it's looking like the building will continue with a strong retail component.
The sale is scheduled to close March 22.
"There have been some very amusing rumors about our demise," Simons said. "No, we are not closing. No, we are not becoming condos or a hotel. It will be a great retail experience with office and other mixed-use space available. I believe the local ownership and involvement will benefit the retailers as well as the customers, and we are going to give these stores the kind of marketing and support they deserve."
He declined to identify potential new retailers, but said they included both traditional and alternative stores. Riverfront also is in discussions with Kansas University about putting in exhibition space. Sunflower Cablevision is using about 7,000 square feet of space, and the city of Lawrence has set up a temporary meeting room during renovation at city hall.
The mall, which opened in 1990, has had mixed uses for some time. Much of the first level has been converted to office space for Sprint Telecenters, and retail and other uses have been concentrated on the upper two levels.
Simons said that arrangement would continue, and invited Lawrence shoppers to consider the mall just another block of downtown retail stores.
"This is downtown Lawrence, too," he said. "It's just enclosed on the river and you can look at eagles."
-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is email@example.com.