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- 2012 - September - 6th -

Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, IKEA, Bass Pro Shops remain retailers to watch

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

A day after fashion leader Nordstrom Inc. announced it planned to open a store in fall 2014 in St. Johns Town Center, questions continued about other retailers on the wish list of area shoppers.

When will Macy’s finally open in Jacksonville?

What about Neiman Marcus?

Bass Pro Shops?

IKEA?

Those are a few of the retailers Jacksonville shoppers have long requested and Nordstrom’s announcement Tuesday renewed those hopes.

If Nordstrom, the Seattle-based upscale fashion retailer known for its customer service, can open in Jacksonville, why not the others?

No one says they won’t, although none of them Wednesday confirmed any plans or potential. IKEA did not respond to two telephone calls seeking comment.

Neiman Marcus Inc.: “We have not announced any plans for Jacksonville,” said Ginger Reeder, vice president of corporate communications at Dallas headquarters. Has it looked at or considered Jacksonville? “We are continually evaluating new opportunities. I cannot comment on anything specific.”

Macy’s Inc.: “Our long-standing policy is that we never comment on where we may (or may not) be looking for new store locations. When we have new stores to announce, we do so. But we do not comment otherwise,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs in Cincinnati headquarters. Macy’s also has headquarters in New York.

Bass Pro Shops: “Still nothing new to announce at this time for Jacksonville,” said Larry Whiteley, manager of communications at Springfield, Mo., headquarters.

That’s all similar to what

Nordstrom has said for at least eight years.

Sal Saldana, St. Johns Town Center general manager with Simon Property Group, said Wednesday that the 240-acre South Jacksonville shopping area has 6 to 61/2 acres available for development.

Will we see Macy’s or Neiman Marcus or other major retailers?

Maybe, Saldana said. Other options are more residential development or even park space.

“Once the time is right,” Saldana said, the decision will be made.

Asked specifically about Macy’s, which has been rumored for decades, Saldana said only: “When the timing is right,

Macy’s may come. It may be someone else.”

It’s interesting to note that as of June 30, Macy’s was the most prevalent anchor at Simon’s malls. There are 157 Macy’s stores anchoring the 221 Simon malls.

What Saldana will say is that St. Johns Town Center, which opened in 2005 and expanded in 2007, is full.

He also said the shopping options range from the Target discount chain to, soon, Nordstrom, and dining choices range from Subway to The Capital Grille.

“St. Johns Town Center is so diversified, it becomes a destination,” he said.

The center was developed along Butler Boulevard and the Interstate 295 East Beltway. It is co-owned by Ben Carter Properties and Simon Property Group, which also has ownership interests in The Avenues and Orange Park malls.

The 1.2 million-square-foot center is anchored by Dillard’s as its main department store.

Saldana said the center attracts 10 million people a year and is second only to the Beaches as an area destination. He said it draws customers from Savannah to Daytona to the Florida Panhandle.

Nordstrom might extend that reach.

Nordstrom also might help persuade other retailers to locate their one-and-only regional store at the town center.

Saldana did a quick count and found that at least 69 of the center’s 150 stores and restaurants are exclusive in the market at St. Johns Town Center.

Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Omega, Juicy Couture, Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, J. Alexander’s, Coldwater Creek and White House Black Market are a few of those.

“North Florida has been demanding a new retailer in North Florida,” Saldana said.

Nordstrom has its closest stores in Orlando and Atlanta.

So do Neiman Marcus and IKEA.

Bass Pro Shops has stores in Orlando and Savannah.

Then there’s Macy’s. A search at www.macys.com for the closest Macy’s stores to Downtown ZIP code 32202 finds locations in Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Oviedo and Savannah.

For now, St. Johns Town Center prepares to welcome new tenants Sake House, Bose, Carter’s children’s clothes and Steve Madden, which will open in the Betsey Johnson spot. Those openings are planned this month, said Simon Director of Public Relations Les Morris.

Meanwhile, another area Simon property will open another major retailer today.

H&M, Hennes & Mauritz, will open its first Jacksonville store, and the seventh in the state, at noon at The Avenues. H&M says it offers the latest trends at low prices.

The company was founded in Sweden and operates about 2,600 stores worldwide.

Saldana recognizes the interest in more retailers at St. Johns Town Center and acknowledges the time it took for Nordstrom to make its decision. Nordstrom first confirmed its interest in the town center in December 2004.

“We feel like it should have happened before,” said Saldana.

“But it’s timing.”

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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