Burlington, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Edge Fitness will open new stores at the former Macy's location at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

The space that formerly housed the department store has been available since March 2017, and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the mall and 21 others, has been looking for tenants that would meet shoppers' need for diverse retail and entertainment. PREIT expects Burlington, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Edge Fitness to open in spring 2019, and the company "is also negotiating leases with an arts-and-crafts purveyor and a craft brewery," it said in a news release announcing the new tenants.

Almost half of the retailers at the Plymouth Meeting Mall are related to dining and entertainment as part of  PREIT's plan to "diversify the tenant mix," the release stated. As department stores close, malls are pivoting to attract tenants that provide experiences and lifestyle options, in addition to traditional retail.

Frank Cerio, director of operations at 5 Wits, walks through lasers in a maze. The high-adventure concept is at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.
DAVID SWANSON
Frank Cerio, director of operations at 5 Wits, walks through lasers in a maze. The high-adventure concept is at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

"It gave us an opportunity to rethink what could populate that anchor box," PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino said, referring to Macy's closing. "I don't think there's a cookie-cutter solution anymore to a property. We've got to step back, be creative, think about the demographics and psychographics and what the customers are getting or not getting, and what retailers you can bring to the market that are new and unique and restaurants that will be unique."

Once the new stores open at the former Macy's, customers will be able to find low-cost products at Burlington, athletic and outdoor apparel and gear at Dick's, and a full-service gym, including group classes and tanning and massages, at Edge Fitness. The company also expects Phoenix Salon Suites to open late this year.

"What we're doing in the Macy's store is going to be very much complimentary to each other," Coradino said. "Our dining and entertainment will drive traffic to the replacement stores for Macy's, and I think our replacements for Macy's will drive traffic to dining and entertainment."

Shoppers headed to the Plymouth Meeting Mall now will be able to visit a Legoland Discovery Center, the indoor cycling studio Cyclebar, the escape room 5 Wits, and the hands-on art space Busy Bees Pottery & Arts Studio. There is also a Dave and Buster's, Whole Foods, and AMC Movie Theatre on the property.

"The definition of an anchor tenant in 2018 has drastically changed from its original definition. It's not defined anymore by sheer size. Instead, it's more about driving traffic," said Douglas Green, a managing principal at MSC Retail. In order to do that, he said, malls need to "give people the ability to do something they can't or don't want to do online."