By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Another new tenant has been announced for the rejuvenated Times Square Mall and two more businesses are likely to occupy space in the strip mall east of Wendy’s.
Sansone Group and Pine Tree Commercial Realty, LLC — the mall’s owners — announced this week Rue 21 will be occupying 4,738 square feet in the mall, next to Hibbett Sports.
“Rue 21 is on a very fast track. It’s under construction and set to open on May 3,” said Karen Shaw, senior associate in retail for the Sansone Group.
Hobby Lobby and Big Lots — the two largest occupants of the renovated mall — anticipate opening the first week in June, Shaw said. Ross Dress for Less was previously announced as one of the retail outlets inside the mall.
“We’re very pleased with the results of our efforts. The leasing is going along week and construction is progressing quicker than planned,” said Jim Sansone, one of the partners of the Sansone Group. “Retailers are excited to open and we’ve been very pleased with the support we’ve received from the mayor, the EDC (Economic Development Corporation), the City of Mt. Vernon and its council.”
Hobby Lobby, a privately held national retail chain of craft and home decor stores, is set to open at the beginning of June, according to a company news release. Construction and renovations have begun on this 53,000 square feet building formerly occupied by Sears. The Mt. Vernon store will be Hobby Lobby’s 35th location in Illinois. The location will bring about 35 to 50 jobs to the community paying $14 per hour for full time and $9.50 per hour for part time associates.
Big Lots will be located in approximately 32,000 square feet space.
“Anytime there is new retail, new businesses it helps to spurt growth. We have a vote of confidence in your community and we hope this project spurs additional growth within the community,” Sansone said.
“Now that the the weather has improved, we have all noticed rapid progress in the renovation of Times Square Mall and the construction of the outlot space (east of Wendy’s). It’s impressive what they have done in the last 30 days,” said Mayor Mary Jane Chesley.
Chesley said the mall owners are to be commended for their commitment to the community.
“It has shown that Sansone has faith in the city of Mt. Vernon in retail development and faith in the workforce that can help with this development,” she said.
Moe’s Southwest Grill will occupy one of the spaces in the building being constructed at the north entrance to the mall. Shaw said two other tenants for that building should be announced within the next 30 days, leaving just one other space to fill. She added the proposed tenants are new to Mt. Vernon retail.