Recent property buys along Cleghorn Avenue by the Mall at Green Hills’ owner have renewed speculation that a Nordstrom department store is on its way.
And in the last week, The City Paper has heard from several sources — who requested not to be named — that talks between mall management and Nordstrom Inc. are indeed under way.
For their part, officials at Davis Street Land Co., the Chicago-based firm that has owned the mall since 2001, declined to confirm or deny the rumors.
“We’ve stated all along that it is our intention to add a third department store,” said Bob Perlmutter, director of acquisitions for Davis Street. “But we do not have anything to announce at this point in time.”
Tom Jurkovich, director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, also declined to confirm any knowledge of talks between Davis Street and Nordstrom. But, he said in an email Friday, “success seems assured.”
“Talk is rampant about such a possibility,” Jurkovich said. “We have the households, the income demographic, and the absence in our current retail mix.”
Talk in commercial real estate circles has long been growing about a possible Nordstrom store in Green Hills.
Though upscale shopping options in Green Hills have increased exponentially since 2000, there is as yet no Nordstrom store in the state — and fashion enthusiasts and economic development boosters alike have long placed the store at the top of their wish lists. The large department stores sell lines of designer goods and other products appealing to an upscale clientele.
In 2000, Nordstrom announced plans to build a store in Brentwood. A two-story, 165,000-square-foot Nordstrom was set to be included with a new upscale shopping center at the northern terminus of Mallory Lane, but the deal was called off less than one year later. At the time, Nordstrom officials said the company decided to focus on its existing stores. There was also, however, considerable objection to construction of the shopping center, which was located near residential neighborhoods.
Since then, the Green Hills market has burgeoned, and the high sales performance of increasingly upscale shops at the Mall at Green Hills have created a very positive picture of the local shopping demographic.
One possible barrier to establishment of a Nordstrom store in Green Hills has been space. Most Nordstrom stores are 150,000 square feet in size or larger, according to the company. To put the size into perspective, the still-under-construction Hill Center on Hillsboro Road consists of 220,000 square feet.
But mall owner Davis Street Land Co. has, since January, purchased several properties on Cleghorn Avenue, including La Paz Restaurante & Cantina and two office buildings. The company also controls the land formerly occupied by The Club at Green Hills, which shut its doors in October and has recently been demolished.
Hank Woerner, general manager of the mall, confirmed Monday that Davis Street has had talks with two luxury retailers. The company has been interested in securing a third anchor store since it bought the Mall at Green Hills, he said — when the mall parking garage was constructed, provisions were made to allow for construction of additional parking decks in the event that another anchor would be secured.
As to whether Nordstrom is involved, Woerner said he knows of “nothing imminent.”
“I don’t think there’s anything close to even being done,” Woerner said. “As soon as anything is imminent or about to happen, between Davis Street Land Co. and whoever the department store is, we’d put together a press conference.”
According to Woerner, the Cleghorn properties could have been acquired for future development — or to keep others from buying them.
“It prevents, I guess, somebody else from buying and doing something with it,” Woerner said. “There was this opportunity and the timing was right, even though we don’t have any specific plans at this point.”