MISSOULA — Quashing a persistent rumor, Southgate Mall on Tuesday denied reports that Trader Joe’s had signed a lease for the vacant Lucky’s Market retail store on Brooks Street.
However, Southgate manager Tim Winger said talks were underway with potential tenants who could replace the popular grocer later this year. The property’s placement on a busy Midtown corridor makes it a prime location.
“There’s a number of tenants and prospects we have out there,” Winger said Tuesday. “Because of its location, it has a lot of interest. There’s a lot of different directions we can take it. It’s on Brooks Street and it’s Position A, so we’re excited about that.”
Two of Missoula’s most persistent rumors have repeated themselves in recent years, and they both revolve around Trader Joe’s and the Red Lobster. Neither have a presence in Missoula, though any time a retail location changes hands or undergoes construction, the rumors resurface.
Lucky’s closed this month after Kroger divested its stake in the company after reviewing its asset portfolio. The two companies announced a strategic partnership in 2016.
“I can’t confirm Trader Joe’s,” Winger said. “Any retailer of any stature that we do over there will include a big, collaborated announcement with whoever we’re talking to.”
That was the case earlier this month when Washington Prime Group, which owns the mall and its surrounding properties, partnered with SCHEELS in announcing the retailer’s plans to occupy the former JCPenney property.
That announcement included a statement from SHEELS CEO Steve Scheel and Washington Prime CEO Lou Conforti. Winger on Tuesday said construction will begin soon on the retailer, which plans to open its 110,000 square foot location in the second quarter of 2021.
“You’ll see a lot of activity this summer and construction will be rolling along,” said Winger. “We’re excited about that, and it has opened the doors for us to have discussions with new and exciting uses and operators that will continue us down the road of making this place a town center.”
Also on Tuesday, crews continued building a small addition to the mall that will house NowCare. That will be located behind the AMC Theater. Work on the new Cinnabon store is also underway inside the mall.