The new owners of the Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs said Monday that a Planet Fitness will open in the space formerly occupied by a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Namdar Realty Group purchased the Mall of the Bluffs last winter for $8.5 million and hopes to return the struggling mall, which opened in 1986, to its former glory, said Namdar leasing director Evan Rafinia.
“We’re working very diligently to revamp this mall,” Rafinia said. “We’re in line to make major improvements.”
Bob Mundt, president and chief executive of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is cheered by the arrival of Planet Fitness and willing to do whatever it can to help repopulate the mall with stores.
“We’re still waiting for those big anchor stores to come in, but Planet Fitness is a good one. We’re glad to have it,” Mundt said.
When Namdar purchased the mall in February, the vacancy rate was 25 percent. The current occupancy rate was not available.
Planet Fitness, which offers exercise equipment and personal instruction, is expected to open before year’s end with interior and exterior renovations to the 25,000-square-foot space vacated by the bookstore in 2011.
Planet Fitness has Omaha locations near 132nd Street and West Center Road and 60th Street and Ames Avenue.
The Mall of the Bluffs, which offers 730,000 square feet of retail space, is just off Madison Avenue near the Interstate 80 junction. The shopping center lost two of its anchors to newer developments: J.C. Penney moved to the Marketplace in 2008 and Target moved to Metro Crossing in 2009.
The Namdar group, based in Great Neck, N.Y., owns 5 million square feet of commercial real estate, including malls in Tulsa, Okla., New York City, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.