Janesville Mall's Buyer Gives Dose of Optimism, Realism on Mall's Future


By Neil Johnson, Janesville Gazette


The leader of an investment group that plans to buy Janesville Mall offered local business leaders an equal dose of optimism and realism about the retail center’s future Wednesday.


Anthony Weiner, president of RockStep Capital Real Estate Investments, the Texas firm that will buy the Janesville Mall in coming weeks, said RockStep considers the 600,000-square-foot mall as the “number one” property out of 45 malls the company has eyed over the last year and a half.


But Weiner made it clear that the 100,000 square feet that will be left vacant when Boston Store closes later this summer likely will take “two or three years at the best” for RockStep to fill.


Unlike the former JCPenney space, which was partially filled in 2015 with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty, the Boston Store space may draw a tenant or tenants that are not retailers, Weiner said.


During an hour-long talk Wednesday in a vacant storefront in the mall’s concourse, Weiner told local leaders it remains to be seen if his firm will land retailers to replace Boston Store.


“The answer is maybe. (Current mall owner) CBL (Properties) has been talking to a few. We’ve been talking to a few,” Weiner said. “But there’s also a possibility it could be a corporate office for a corporation that’s expanding or coming into the market. It could be a major fitness facility. It could be something with the local school district or a technical college” if those entities sought to add satellite campuses.


Weiner predicted that within a few years, malls such as Janesville’s will have a blend of “60 to 70 percent” retail space and “30 to 40 percent” alternative, nonretail companies.


“In the old world, a tenant left and another retailer came right back in. Today’s world is a little different,” he said. “There are retailers that will come back in, but not as many. So you’ve got to become superb at alternative uses.”


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