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Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 15, 201412:00 PM EST

It's official: Belk closing Regency Square Mall store in February

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Belk Inc. confirmed Monday what has long been expected — it will close its Regency Square Mall store in anticipation of moving to a new store under construction several miles east at the Atlantic North shopping center.

Spokeswoman Jessica Graham said by email Monday that Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk will not renew the lease at Regency Square and has announced the relocation to its associates.

A going-out-of-business sale is scheduled to start in mid-December, the store should close in mid-February and the new store will open in March.

Belk’s new store is under construction at11901 Atlantic Blvd. at northwest Kernan and Atlantic boulevards. LA Fitness, Academy Sports + Outdoors and Earth Fare already anchor that center.

Belk’s expected departure raises questions about what happens to its space. It anchors the center of mall, with JCPenney at the other end of the East Mall and Sears at the other end of the West Mall.

Mall General Manager Jim Kramer said Monday the two-story, 144,000-square-foot Belk space could be part of a bid for the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. consolidated office center, which seeks a 226,400-square-foot operations hub.

Kramer said a company, which would hold the master lease, submitted the bid last week to Tallahassee-based Citizens, proposing 300,000 square feet of Regency Square space that might include the Belk store.

The company would lease the space from Regency and re-lease to Citizens. Six organizations submitted site bids to Citizens, which is expected to make a decision Nov. 3.

Kramer said the 300,000-square-foot proposal to Citizens would include the south side of the West Mall from Belk to Sears, he said.

On the north side of the West Mall, Kramer said a church has leased 15,000 square feet of space and he is talking with a charter school to take 35,000 square feet.

Belk is one of three anchors at Regency Square, a struggling 47-year-old mall bought in February by New York-based owners who redevelop aging properties. Dillard’s operates a clearance center at the end of a wing in the West Mall as well.

Belk holds a central role as a pass-through between the busier East Mall and largely vacant West Mall.

Owners have been consolidating retail tenants in the East Mall and are seeking nontraditional tenants for the West Mall.

Regency Mall Realty LLC, which is the lead company that bought Regency, is a joint venture of Namdar Realty Group LLC and Mason Asset Management, both of Great Neck, N.Y. It bought the mall for $13 million on Feb. 14.

The regional mall was built in 1967, later expanded and then battered by the loss of tenants to newer shopping centers in growing parts of town.

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