Albertville Premium Outlet’s Promenade mall, on the east side of CSAH 19, has been dogged by flagging tenant numbers for several years. The Promenade currently sits about 50 percent vacant, with more uncertainty looming as current leases come up for renewal.
The Albertville City Council gave the outlet mall a modicum of flexibility earlier this month, when it voted to approve a Planned Unit Development (PUD) amendment that would allow a limited amount of space in the Promenade to be used for hospitality businesses, which includes churches. The decision came about after The Crossing Church, currently renting space at St. Michael Cinema, sought to relocate to two tenant bays of the Promenade. The church will be located in the area that used to house Flying Circus Toys.
Albertville city administrator, Adam Nafstad, said the PUD change only applies to the Promenade side of the mall. The measure was approved on a three-year interim basis with a limited number of spaces that can be used for hospitality. No more than two hospitality businesses will be allowed, and the maximum size of the assembly is capped 200 people at one time. Nafstad said The Crossing Church currently has a congregation of 75-100 people.
“I think everyone’s in agreement that it’s a good way to try it out,” Nafstad said. “The mall is actively looking at how they can either rent that space or revitalize that area.”
Some council members were wary of allowing the Promenade to contain multiple, non-consistent uses across the mall when it was intended as a retail space, but most agreed that a limited, interim approval would allow them to test the waters without making any permanent changes. Public testimony at the January planning commission meeting also brought out local concerns about parking, traffic and changes in occupancy.
Albertville Premium Outlet manager, Laurie Summerland, was in attendance at the council meeting, and she said the corporate office wants to re-invest in the property and make capital improvements, with the goal of re-leasing all of the tenant bays. She said it’s not Simon’s standard to have properties with “hodgepodge” uses, but they are attempting to diversify to fill the space. Typical leases run 10 years in length, but she said they’d be willing to allow a shorter-term lease for this unique situation.
The motion passed with council member John Vetsch dissenting, saying he’d like to see the bays remain retail businesses. Council member Rebecca Halling said she felt using the space for assembly was “less than ideal,” but ultimately agreed to the interim use permit.