Despite Eastdale's presence, the new strip at this point is still quite small holding only 350,000 square feet. Aside from Dillard's, the center only has one other significant inline junior anchor in Kinnucan's (not pictured), a regional sports-themed specialty store that is found in college towns in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Kinnucan's started out in Auburn, AL as a shoe store in 1987. It is obviously one of the rarest examples of a successful regional chain found in the South today. The development otherwise has a few upscale chain restaurants and an adjacent power center featuring anchors such as Target and Kohl's. Eastchase originally opened in 2004 and is located east/northeast of the city just off of I-85 on Taylor Road.
A couple images of the very car-friendly development, which was rather difficult to photograph especially when people were actually shopping here.
The funniest thing about lifestyle centers is that they really did not truly catch on until recently. Versions of them have existed dating all the way to the 1920's with Country Club Plaza in Kansas City being the first. Despite that, I realized while visiting this place how crazy lifestyle centers really are. Keep in mind that Montgomery is HOT in the summer, so the presence of an outdoor mall in any form is hardly going to be anything more than a strip as shoppers race from their cars through the boiling sun to the air conditioned comfort inside each store. Even being there in March, I saw how true this was as the whole concept reminded me of musical chairs with cars just circling and circling trying to get a parking place in front of their store of choice. Outside, there was little reason to be there with no covered walkways, meeting areas or shade to be found. Perhaps this is a factor in why more anchors haven't joined in at the mall. I wonder if Belk plans to join there long term once they can get out of their leases at Eastdale. I had surmised on my last post that the series of mergers and acquisitions that led to Belk being there in the first place is why they didn't park at Eastdale to start with. JCPenney, however, surprised me in how they chose Eastdale over Eastchase.
Dillard's positions itself as the last thing you see as you drive into the center. It is also the only department store there.
It is funny that as I was covering this town that I was unaware that Eastchase was not the only lifestyle center to open in the region, and was not the only factor in the failure of Montgomery Mall. Apparently, Prattville has also built a lifestyle center called High Point Town Center featuring Belk and JCPenney. From what I understand, that is about all that is there since for some reason that development has bombed other than its anchors, which also include Bass Pro Shops and Publix. The details from the previous posts, however, still hold true in regards to the shift of retail and demographics in the city despite the unsteady progress underway in Prattville.
Here is a view along the side part of the center extending off of the main part that includes Dillard's. The majority of the center is the background. Belk will likely one day join this part photographed.
My opinion on Eastchase is that it needs to be more appealing and possibly incorporate at least some enclosed mall into the development. If Belk comes one day, build on a small enclosed mall off of the existing outdoor mall. Also, create some more elegant features such as an elegant fountain area in the center like they did at Ashley Park in Newnan, GA. That is one advantage that lifestyle centers have is that they can do fountains and landscaping lushly and far cheaper than they could in an enclosed mall environment. I figure that regardless of what happens, that the obvious patterns of growth and development will lead to Eastchase becoming the dominant, if not only shopping center for the region..