Cranberry Mall manager sure he will fill vacancies

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Cranberry Mall -- the township's most senior retail complex -- is sporting two major vacancies but neither the property manager nor township officials are worrying that the site will devolve to a white elephant.

"We have people knocking on our door every day," said Larry Gumberg, president of LG Realty Advisors, the manager of the property which is owned by a partnership of Mr. Gumberg's family. "Cranberry is a very viable area with an exciting demographic to retailers. We have no concerns about our ability to re-tenant our spaces."

Cranberry planning director Ron Henshaw agreed: "We're confident that a space like this is prime and Gumberg will ultimately find good tenants."

The township learned earlier this month that plans by Red Lobster to take over the Kings Restaurant site on Route 19 had been canceled.

Mr. Gumberg said the chain had "really, really loved the demographics" but that well-publicized corporate decisions about "regrouping" had nixed the decision to retool Kings.

Mr. Gumberg said Kings, which had vacated the site to make room for Red Lobster, will not return.

However, he said other restaurants and retailers already are vying for the 5,367-square-foot space. Township officials had been anticipating an expedited construction schedule to accommodate a July opening.

Meantime, the former Kuhn's/Shop 'N Save site just behind the former Kings Restaurant has been vacant since September 2011. But, Mr. Gumberg said that's not a reflection of a lack of interest in the property. "It is still under a tenant-lease agreement with Supervalue.

We have a number of retailers interested in going into the space. We'll replace with a retailer as soon as we have access to the space," he said, declining to indicate when the lease expires.

Mr. Henshaw said municipal officials "never want to see vacancies," especially in highly visible locations.

The fear is that empty storefronts can lead to blight, he said. The issue has not been a problem for Cranberry, where commercial occupancy rates are nearly 100 percent, Mr. Henshaw said.

Cranberry Mall, a commercial operation of about 854,000 square feet, is at the junction of routes 228 and 19. The upper level of the plaza, closest to Route 19, opened in the early 1980s, followed by the lower section later in the same decade. The plaza underwent a major renovation in 2005. A brick facade was added and walkways were rebuilt with brick pavers and lined with decorative light posts. Trees, shrubs and planters were added and the parking lot was resurfaced.

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Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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