Business as usual, it is.

Or is it?

Cottonwood Mall general manager Spence Angerbauer says that despite a spate of recent store closures, which came on the heels of other store closures in December, the mall remains open and ready for business.

"We're just business as usual," Angerbauer said. "Obviously, we're looking at and addressing the future of Cottonwood Mall, but we don't have any announcements at this time.

"We have a few stores that their leases are expiring at the end of January, and they'll be leaving. But the majority of the mall is remaining open and will continue to stay open."

General Growth Properties owns Cottonwood, along with Fashion Place, Cache Valley, Red Cliffs and Newgate malls in Utah. Late last year, General Growth announced a major expansion at Fashion Place, adding a new store for Nordstrom and 150,000 square feet of new restaurants and shops. The project is expected to be complete in 2009.

Nothing has been announced for Cottonwood, though rumors abound about its fate — rumors fueled at least in part by what seems to be an escalation in tenant exits. Among those to close last Saturday were American Eagle Outfitters, Gymboree, Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret. Angerbauer said that prior to those closures, the mall was more than 60 percent occupied.

"We still have our major anchors, J.C. Penney and Macy's," he said. "We have national and local retailers. After January, our occupancy will drop a little bit, but it is nothing major or significant. The impact will be minimal."

Macy's spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said that company's Cottonwood store is performing well.

"Our Cottonwood store has been doing very well, and we have no plans to leave that mall," Reason said. "We plan to stay."

Apparently, however, some retailers don't have a choice.

Denise Mellen, owner of Melon Patch Memories, a scrapbooking store at the mall, said her lease is up at the end of February.

"As far as I know, they're not renewing leases past the end of March," Mellen said. "Though they're not really telling us anything."

For now, Angerbauer reassured customers that the mall is "definitely not closing."

But beyond that?

"All I can say is that we are constantly addressing the future of Cottonwood Mall," he said. "It would be premature to announce anything at this time. Just know that we are actively engaged in those discussions."

Mellen said she's looking for another location but hasn't yet settled on one. Customers interested in updates (along with sales and scrapbooking classes) can be alerted via e-mail.

"That way, we'll definitely say when we're doing what," she said.


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