Significant vacancies at Governor’s Square

Earlier this year, FAMU students might have noticed a significant amount of vacancies in Governor’s Square Mall.

Out of about 100 storefronts, as many as 10 are currently not doing business.

According to Marketing Director Eileen Walsh, many of these spaces are in an expected state of limbo.

It takes a long time to settle a contract and almost a year to settle a lease, she said. “It’s a process.”

Walsh said two years ago, Governor’s Square went under new management, General Growth Properties.

According to General Growth’s Web site, it is “the largest third-party manager for owners of regional malls” after merging with The Rouse Company, which previously owned Governor’s Square.

The question that should be asked is whether the mall is in a rebuilding period or suffering a casualty of a downward economic trend.

“It takes some time,” Walsh said. “Last year, we were nearly at 100 percent capacity,” she said, referring to established storefronts and moveable carts, like Piercing Pagoda, in the mall’s walkway.

Walsh said she hopes the mall will be at capacity again this Christmas season.

But for now, 10 vacant stores lie waiting.

The store on the mall’s far west side where there used to be a Sam Goody, which was vacated due to troubles with its corporate owner Musicland, is still empty.

Its movie-selling sister store, Suncoast, was vacated as well. Playsmart, a children’s toy store, now resides in the former Suncoast storefront.

Similar problems happened with Piccadilly’s, a cafeteria restaurant with close to 8,000 square feet.

It is currently being used for storage space, and Walsh said that leasing the space is not in the mall’s game plan.

Spencer’s Gifts, a novelty store, is closing imminently, and no plans have been revealed for its replacement.

Barnie’s, a coffee shop and equipment retail store, was one of 39 locations bought by Starbucks in May.

The new coffee shop should be established by November, Walsh said.

A small space in the mall’s food court was a Subway some years ago and has remained vacant ever since.

“It takes some time to fill a cold prep restaurant space,” she said, referring to fast food places like Wendy’s and its grill table or Sbarro and its ovens.

“We have to find a restaurant that fits those parameters. Stores depend on size.”

Retail stores like Coach Leather, Anchor Blue and Buckle, are filling some of these empty spaces come November.

Some empty stores, like two adjacent ones next to the Hour Glass in the mall’s lower level Dillard’s wing, are mostly used for holiday and seasonal retail.

With this in mind, there are some stores shoppers would like to see put down roots.

“There are a lot of shoe fanatics around (FAMU),” said Byron Murray, 20, a junior graphic design student from Clermont. “I’d like to see a store that does nothing but shoes.”

He also said more Adidas brands, BAPE and Phat Farm shoes should be available in the mall.

Murray said there is a pressing need for a music store after Sam Goody, the mall’s only music store, closed.

When asked what stores she would like to see in the mall, salesperson Lindsay Bozeman said she did not know where to begin.

“There’s no place to get moderately-priced shoes in the mall,” she said, referencing stores such as Charles David and Aldo.

“There’s no swimsuit stores either or a place where you can get fancy lingerie other than Victoria’s Secret.”

Raven Roberts, 21, a fourth-year business student from Long Beach, Calif., goes to the mall once or twice a week.

“I’d like to see more small boutiques,” she said, citing Steve Madden or Baker’s. “They need more women’s shoes and accessories.”