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HOLLAND, MI-Howard & Mills Inc. chief executive officer Geoff Mills expects it will take six to eight months to revive the ailing Westshore Mall, the 415,804-sf retail center his company recently purchased from LaSalle Bank National Association. In a transaction that closed Nov. 8, Howard & Mills bought the 415,804-sf retail center here for $13.95 million. The buyer initially plans to pump $3 million into Westshore, which was built in 1988 and is about 67% occupied.

“Our job is to take it and bring it back to where it used to be,” Mills tells GlobeSt.com. The first round of improvements includes new signs and asphalt, and prepping vacant space so that it can be turned over quickly as new tenants sign leases.

“These are the first of many improvements we intend to bring to this property,” Mills says. “Our goal is to increase foot traffic and ultimately attract additional regional and national tenants to the Holland community.” He adds that his company plans to invest another $2 million to $3 million in the center next year.

Approximately $1.8 million of the initial $3 million will be used for tenant improvements on space for Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear. The fast-growing discount clothing retailer, which has more than 130 stores in the US, has signed a lease to occupy about 54,000 sf previously occupied by Sears. Once Steve & Barry’s moves in, the center will be 80% occupied, according to Mills. The center’s other tenants include Bath & Body Works, Dunham’s Sports, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Waldenbooks, Younkers, and JC Penney, which extended its lease for five years just prior to the acquisition.

Mills calls the Westshore Mall a “model acquisition” for Howard & Mills, which has overseen the acquisition, disposition and development of more than 475 shopping centers across the country. He says the company sees opportunity in lower priced properties–typically in the $15-million to $60-million range–with lots of vacancy and missing anchors. Though its disposition strategy varies with the product, Howard & Mills plans to hold onto Westshore for five years or more, Mills says.

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