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Bringing Back Eastgate Mall

Hull Property Group is seeking new development plans for the struggling mall.

by Sarah M. Mullins

Eastgate Mall is back in the spotlight after years of facing challenges in maintaining tenants. Georgia-based developer Hull Property Group recently acquired the indoor mall with the intention of transforming it into a mixed-use development that could include restaurants, apartments, and office space along with the current tenants. Unoccupied spaces have had several owners, but the mall is currently home to major retailers such as Kohl’s, JCPenney, and Dillard’s along with smaller stores that include American Eagle and Hot Topic.

Like many retailers in the wake of online shopping, the mall has struggled with declining foot traffic over the years. “The Eastgate Mall did not fail overnight, and it’s not going to miraculously come back overnight,” says John Mulherin, vice president of government relations at Hull Property Group. “These are long, very difficult tasks to turn around these struggling properties.”

Current tenants include more than just shopping options. Dart Ops is one of the newest arrivals, an 8,000-square-foot Nerf battle arena located near the old Sears building, and Glowgolf is a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course.

Ahead of the purchase, Union Township hired McGill Smith Punshon (MSP), a master development firm, to craft a comprehensive master plan and launch an economic feasibility study, which is nearing completion. Once this critical step is finalized, township officials will further engage and survey the public to get an idea of what the community is hoping for. The feedback will help shape the future redevelopment plan.

“We are excited to join the Greater Cincinnati and Union Township community,” Jim Hull, owner of Hull Property Group, says in a statement. “We love the area, and Eastgate Mall can and should continue to be a viable shopping and dining destination. We aim to reposition Eastgate Mall by working with community leaders and adjacent property owners,” says Jim Hull.

Mulherin says a thriving mixed-use property has the potential to benefit the entire Eastgate area, but the initial focus is on stabilizing and assisting existing businesses before moving any further. “Our number one goal is to help the existing tenants,” he says. “If we want to save this property, we can’t have the continual exodus of tenants—if it fails completely, there is no development opportunity. [We’re doing the] hard work of figuring out the property and figuring out ways to help increase sales, and anything else to that is secondary.”