With Bon-Ton closing, what's next for The Point at Carlisle Plaza?
The future of The Point at Carlisle Plaza remains unclear following Wednesday's announcement by The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. that it will close its store at the Carlisle mall as part of a nationwide plan to shrink its retail footprint.
Cumberland County-based supermarket chain Giant Food Stores LLC bought the 1960s-era shopping mall on East High Street in fall 2012. It is saying little about the mall's loss of an anchor store.
Giant spokesman Chris Brand said the company has nothing to announce at this time regarding plans to replace Bon-Ton after the store'smerchandise is liquidated.
In fact, Giant has been tight-lipped over the last five years about the future of the mall, which sits on about 15 acres and is also anchored by a Lowe's. At the time of the $7.4 million purchase, Brand said the company viewed the deal as an investment in its hometown.
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation that Giant may tear down the mall and build a large store to replace its existing store in Carlisle. The company hasn't commented on those rumors and seems content to hold onto the property.
Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., has heard the chatter about the mall and said redevelopment of the property makes sense given its location near Interstate 81 and surrounding homes and development in the Carlisle area.
"It is at a great location right on the edge of town and approximately one mile off I-81," he said. "There is a lot of development happening around The Point so it could be a great mixed-use site of commercial uses."
The Carlisle Commons shopping center on Noble Boulevard, which is anchored by Walmart and off a different exit of I-81, has been able to attract new franchise brands as tenants.
With the growth of online shopping, many mall owners have been carving up large anchor spaces to house clusters of smaller tenants or other uses.
Bowser said he believes Carlisle's strength will lie in attracting small local and regional retailers. Larger national brands will continue to focus on more densely populated areas and busier commercial corridors like the Carlisle Pike.
That said, Cumberland County is the fastest-growing county in the commonwealth this decade. Area developers and home builders have said they expect future population growth will occur west of Harrisburg toward Carlisle.