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2:30 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Positive momentum is gaining speed at Prescott Gateway Mall

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Vehicles enter the Prescott Gateway Mall parking lot Tuesday afternoon. Several stores recently renewed long-term leases.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Vehicles enter the Prescott Gateway Mall parking lot Tuesday afternoon. Several stores recently renewed long-term leases.

The new owners of the Prescott Gateway Mall are looking to replace the recently closed Sherrie's Hallmark store with another Hallmark franchisee, according to Tabani Group spokesman Abbas Kanji.

"The operators of the Hallmark store just decided to retire," Kanji said this week. "They did extremely well, so it wasn't a failed business by any means."

The Tabani Group is in the works with Hallmark to find a new operator, Kanji said.

"We are also talking with some other operators in the area who run other businesses, saying, 'Hey, here's a running business with $500,000 a year in sales - do you want to take it over?' " Kanji said. "We've had some pretty good interest, but it just takes time for Hallmark to approve them. But we are working on it."

While the Hallmark store is closed for now, several other large stores in the mall have signed lease renewals until 2020, according to Kanji and mall officials.

"Cost Plus World Market and Pier 1 Imports have both renewed their leases through 2020, and Payless Shoes has renewed through 2019," property manager Bob Liples said.

Some of the changes mall shoppers can expect in the coming months include new stores, added restaurants, promotions, events, and mall enhancements, according to Kanji.

"We are in the negotiation stage of things but there is some positive momentum going on at the mall," Kanji said. "We didn't buy the mall to leave it the way it is. Our company has a track record of buying malls that are in really good shape, but are just being mismanaged."

"A bank was running the mall before and banks aren't in the business of running malls," Kanji added.

Currently, Maurice's clothing store is undergoing a large makeover, Kanji said. The store is occupying vacant space a few doors down from its permanent location while renovations are being completed.

"I think the mall needs some spark, some life," shopper Jean Saunders said. "It always seems to be empty. Which is too bad, because it's a very nice-looking place."

Brookstone, Things Remembered, and Lane Bryant are just a few of the stores Saunders would like to see open up in the mall.

The mall, built by Westcor in 2002, was purchased by the Tabani Group in November 2013. The Dallas-based group owns and manages a variety of malls and shopping centers across the nation, including the Eagle Ridge Mall in Florida, Graham Town Center in Washington, and Mustang Crossing in Texas.

"In just a few months since acquiring the mall, the Tabani Group has exceeded expectations and shown a strong commitment to reinvigorating the mall for tenants and shoppers," Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said. "The lease renewals and renovation project signal a bright future for the mall and the City of Prescott."

Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone