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CORPUS CHRISTI, TX-Six months after acquiring the Padre Staples Mall, owner Trademark is ready to commence the second, and largest, reconstruction phase on the 40-year-old asset. Construction on the property, now dubbed La Palmera, will begin March 1, and will include a complete renovation of the main entrance into an outdoor, lushly landscaped court, an expansion of anchor Macy’s and creation of a children’s play area.

Minor modifications have already been in play since the Fort Worth-based Trademark joined forces with CalPERS and an affiliate of Miller Capital Advisory Inc. of Skokie, IL to acquire the asset at 5488 South Padre Island Dr. last summer. However, the main bulk of the work was scheduled for after the new year, with completion anticipated before the 2009 holiday shopping season.

“We’re trying to make this a destination resort style shopping and dining venue,” explains Trademark Founding Partner Terry Montesi. “It’ll serve a very large trade area in South Texas and Northern Mexico.” To get to that point, he continues, it’s necessary to convert the mall from a “really tired, neglected, old outdated mall into a real destination lifestyle environment.” Trademark has retained Communication Arts Inc. of Boulder, CO for the new design. A general contract hasn’t been selected.

In addition to the renovation, some tenant changes are taking place. Dallas Cowboys Pro Shops and Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen have signed leases. In the meantime, 14,000 square feet of retailers have renewed leases, while others will depart at the end of January. Approximately 38,000 square feet of space is remaining and Trademark has the job of filling it.

Montesi tells GlobeSt.com that La Palmera is Trademark’s first mall renovation, though the company has other successful Texas developments under its belt such as the 560,000-square foot Market Street in The Woodlands; the close to 300,000-square-foot High Street in Houston and the 1.1-million-square-foot Watters Creek in Allen.

But with the economy headed south, Montesi says Trademark is looking at similar malls in other states in hopes of acquiring and performing the same types of renovations that will be in play at La Palmera. “The older malls need reinvention,” he remarks. “There’s a real need for creativity and intellectual and financial capital to get these malls moving again. This is a business we believe in and something we plan to do again.”

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