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While several stores have closed their doors, Galleria shoppers can expect new businesses to fill the vacant slots in the coming months. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.
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Riverchase Galleria Marketing Manager Angela Jacks stands on the balcony of the second story. The facade behind her hides construction on the Vans store, one of several new retailers coming to the Galleria. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.
Between the Galleria and all its neighboring shopping centers, the Riverchase area is the center of Hoover’s retail industry. Shoppers should expect some brand-new options in the coming months as new retailers begin to put up their signs and open their doors.
The Galleria’s new openings actually begin with its closings. Wet Seal and Body Central closed in early January due to national bankruptcies. The Delia’s and Radio Shack locations have announced future closings for the same reason, and Banana Republic, White House Black Market and Sbarro Pizza have shut their doors as well.
Galleria Marketing Manager Angela Jacks, however, said these shops won’t be empty for long.
“You hate seeing stores close, but there’s high demand for our retail space,” Jacks said. “With the closing comes the opportunity to bring in new retailers.”
Some of the new retailers have already been announced. Molly Green, a boutique already within the mall, will be relocating to the White House Black Market space. A Villa Pizza will replace the Sbarro location, and the former Bakers Shoes is being renovated for Jolie Grace Boutique. Both stores began construction in February. A Vans shoe and clothing store is under construction in the former site of the Aeropostale, and a Rue 21 and K’s Formal round out the other new additions to the Galleria.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” Jacks said. “We’re really excited about what’s coming.”
However, the new occupants of the other empty spots are being kept under wraps. Jacks said that she can’t wait to release their names, but the brands will not let anything out until they have moved into their locations.
Until the mystery is resolved, many Hoover residents are hoping to see more high-end retailers filling the space. Julie Bland lives less than a mile from the Galleria and said the Banana Republic and White House Black Market were some of her staple clothing stores. Bland felt that the Galleria was starting to cater to a younger crowd and said she has no reason to visit the Galleria anymore except Von Maur. The introduction of stores such as West Elm, Ann Taylor or Pottery Barn would make her more likely to visit the mall more frequently.
Tree Crossings Parkway resident Brittany Ortiz likes to go to the Galleria because of the options for her children, but prefers to shop at The Summit when alone. She said she prefers the ability to drive directly up to stores and feels like the Galleria stores aren’t as high-quality.
“You can tell that some of the stores are cheaper merchandise,” Ortiz said.
On the other hand, Richelieu Lane resident Carol Lowe said she preferred the Galleria to The Summit because inclement weather won’t get in the way of shopping, but she too would like to see more name-brand stores like Michael Kors. She also wants the Galleria to add a craft store and more restaurants to the interior of the mall so she has options besides the food court.
Right across the street from the Galleria, a strip mall called the Promenade is bringing in a new store of its own. Between the Kirkland’s and Pier One Imports, a Five Below location is under construction.
Five Below is a national chain targeted toward teens and pre-teens. It sells clothing, accessories, games, tech accessories and craft supplies, all for $5 or less.
DDR Corp., the owners of the Promenade, filed their building permit for the 8,100-square-foot space in September 2014. DDR Director of Communications Matt Schuler said Five Below is a “top retailer” in their malls across the country in terms of sales.
The DDR online site plan for Riverchase Promenade shows three additional empty leasing spaces, so more tenants could be coming soon.
Rounding out the roster of new retail is Whole Foods, which is under construction in Riverchase Village on Lorna Road. The store will be taking the place of the former Belle Foods.
Whole Foods will be leasing just over 50,000 square feet, though customers will have around 45,000 square feet of shopping space. David Ashford of Southpace Properties, which represents the Village’s owner, said the Whole Foods is planned to open in the first quarter of 2016.
“They’re just a good quality retailer,” Ashford said. “It helps solidify their place in the market.”
Loch Ridge Trail resident Cory Hamblen is looking forward to having a Whole Foods near his house and plans to be a regular shopper. He enjoys their products, but always felt that the Whole Foods on U.S. 280 was too far to drive. Tree Crossings Parkway resident Brittany Ortiz is not a frequent organic food shopper, but she agrees that the convenience will make her visit the new location more frequently.
“I don’t think people really want to drive that far,” Ortiz said. “It’s nice when it’s right there.”
Hamblen and Ortiz both said that Whole Foods has a better selection than Earth Fare, the organic supermarket at Riverchase Galleria. However, Richelieu Lane resident Carol Lowe pointed to the Earth Fare, Fresh Market and other similar stores as signs that a Whole Foods is not needed.
“It’s just a redundant grocery store,” Lowe said. “I’m disappointed to see that it’s a Whole Foods going in there because they don’t have what I need.”
Lowe bakes as a hobby and said many baking and dessert items aren’t sold at Whole Foods. She wants to see a Publix come to the area as an alternative to the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Lorna Road. Currently, the nearest Publix is in the Hoover Place Shopping Center on Montgomery Highway.
The Whole Foods is part of a larger redevelopment project for the entire Village shopping center. Ashford said the “fresh, new look” will include new sidewalks, landscaping and lighting. Renovations will also be made to the common area and front facade, which will get new awnings, paint and improved parapets.
Riverchase Village also has six empty spaces waiting for new businesses. Ashford said the property owner is looking to add food and clothing retail to the shopping center.
“We are actively seeking new tenants, but we do not have any signed yet,” Ashford said.
Ortiz said the wait won’t be long.
“A building doesn’t sit vacant for long in Hoover. If it’s empty, someone will fill it,” Ortiz said.