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After Mendenhall Mall sale, new plans still under study

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007

The new owners of the Mendenhall Mall want Juneau residents to see the building as a community center, said Larry Bauer, a Realtor who is also now mall manager.

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"They want to put on a lot of community activities. Arts and crafts. (Display) engineers' designs. They want to be doing things like that for the community," he said of Salmon Creek LLC, which two months ago purchased the building from Reinhold and Cheryl Fluck.

A deed of sale filed with the state lists the new owners as Tomlinson Hoff LLC, Pamar Hoff LLC, Comick Hoff LLC, Joseph Comick and Robert Cavanagh. The deed states their base is Seattle.

Tenants said the transition has been smooth so far, and they have seen few changes.

"We are just waiting for the weather to settle. We are kind of in that slide zone," said Ralph Burkhardt, manager of Grandma's Kitchen.

"It seems to us a seamless transition," said Barbara Berg, director of the Juneau Public Library. A newly renovated branch is located in the mall.

"We have heard nothing (about any changes). We just signed a five-year lease last June, so we will be there," she said.

What would the tenants like to see?

"Anything that will draw people. I've only been here for a month and a half. I don't think I have a right to say (what that should be)," said Lisabeth Moore, owner of Lisabeth's Boutique, a women's clothing store specializing in plus sizes.

Two new tenants beside Moore have moved into the building, leaving three vacancies in the main mall area and two office spaces, Bauer said. The other new tenants are the Juneau Shriners and the Church for All Nations, making a total of 37 tenants, Bauer said.

Besides creating a community atmosphere, the new owners plan to continue evaluating ways to attract more customers, he said.

"One of the things they want to work on is the tenants and marketing the mall, helping the tenants do their merchandising. The whole thing about the mall is the tenants. They are really concentrating on what they can do to help (them)," he said.

Investing in a shopping center is not new for the Salmon Creek owners, who hail from all over the country, Bauer said.

"They own a lot of properties, but again, they are so new to this project, they are still evaluating it. The owners want to look at all of their options and all of their expenses. They do want to do some improvements," he said.

Architects are working on ideas for renovations, but nothing has been decided.

The mall purchase does not include Super Bear or the shops located in the annex adjacent to the grocery store, nor does it include the land on which the mall sits.

Juneau's malls were born during the boom years of the 1970s, when a flood of people moved to Alaska to take advantage of a plenitude of well paying pipeline jobs.

The first here was the Nugget Mall near the Juneau International Airport. Since it was built in 1974, it has had stable ownership: Loveless/Tollefsson Properties, based in Belleview, Wash.

The Flucks designed and oversaw construction of the Mendenhall Mall, which took place in three phases from 1986 to 1991, Reinhold Fluck said in an interview just before the mall sold in December 2006.

"We built it from scratch," he said. Cheryl Fluck said that she will miss her tenants the most. Her husband said he plans to return to his first love - masonry.

He said he trusts the new owners will be good stewards to their creation.

"They will really do a good job. They have to have more resources to fill this mall up completely," he said.

Still, he regretted not being able to find a Juneau buyer, despite trying for two years.

"There is no market to sell something like this around here," Fluck said.

Some owners of Salmon Creek have formed another limited liability corporation, Sherwood, and have purchased the Sherwood Lane building that houses several state and federal offices.

They include the Department of Motor Vehicles and the U.S. Coast Guard. The two investments are otherwise unrelated, Bauer said.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.



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