SALINA – The Salina Central Mall is making a change in management duties, which includes the elimination of a local manager.
According to a media release, The mall’s California based owner, Central Mall Realty Holding, LLC, has made the decision to eliminate the local manager, Lisa McDowell, and will move management duties to their California office. The decision was made due to financial restraints.
Since May 2005, Lisa McDowell has sat in the chair that spearheaded events, marketing, and specialty leasing at Central Mall. In 2007, after former owner Ed Okun purchased the mall and it was later discovered that he had embezzled the money from a 1031 Tax Group. McDowell was then promoted to General Manager to spearhead the acquisition of working directly with Wells Fargo and their asset department in turning the distressed financial mall around. Okun was sentenced to 100 years in federal prison.
In 2010, the mall was sold to a Hedge Fund group out of New York, Garrison Investment Group, and had been managed by multiple third party management groups over the past decade. The Central Mall remained stable with being 92% occupied and financially stable until the halt of brick and mortar shopping started plummeting over the past three years.
The majority of junior apparel retailers began to close mall locations with Vanity Shops closing 140 stores nationwide. Rue 21 went into bankruptcy and closed 400 stores, including the Salina location. Each one of these closures were not isolated to Central Kansas, but normally in small market shops, the smallest stores hit the list in the departure.
Salina was fortunate to have Sears three years longer than any other market in the region. In 2017, Sears Holdings chose to close 150 of their Sears and Kmart stores, including Salina’s Sears store. Later in 2017, Dillard’s made the decision to close the Salina store as profitability also plummeted and stocks were taking a dip. Salina was also fortunate to keep Dillard’s three years longer than Hutchinson and Manhattan.
Following these closures, McDowell put together a group of owners, architects, agents, brokers and city officials for a plan of how to turn the Central Mall around with a plan to renovate the large 96,315 square foot facility into a large user that may drive entertainment to Salina. That plan included the split of the vacant 73,063 square foot Dillard’s parcel into multiple parcels.
McDowell played a big part in sending out letters of intent to many possible national and regional tenants that shared interest in the market.
McDowell could possibly remain on as contracted staff for consulting on leasing and marketing at the mall.