The fast-growing fashion retailer Forever 21 plans to take over the former Borders space at Castleton Square Mall.
The privately held California-based chain, which currently has a smaller store at the mall, has begun converting the roughly 25,000-square-foot former bookstore at the south entrance and is targeting a summer opening.
It's the first of six vacant Borders spaces in central Indiana to land a permanent tenant, but real estate brokers say suitors are considering the others, particularly former bookstore locations across from The Fashion Mall at Keystone, near Greenwood Park Mall and at Hamilton Town Center.
"To turn the Borders into a Forever 21 is going to be very well received and will generate very good business for the mall and other tenants," said Bill French, a senior vice president of retail at the brokerage Cassidy Turley.
The Castleton store remained open through the bookstore chain's liquidation last year, along with stores at Hamilton Town Center and at U.S. 31 and Shelby Street on the south side.
Those stores, along with the former Borders at The Shops at River Crossing near The Fashion Mall, have the brightest prospects for landing replacement tenants, brokers said. Vacant stores downtown and in Carmel likely face longer odds.
French, who has the listing for the southside location, said several potential furniture, apparel and even restaurant/nightclub tenants have looked at the space. One advantage of the former Greenwood Borders is it sits next to a long-vacant Linens & Things, which means a tenant could assemble an end-cap with about 58,000 square feet of space.
Potential tenants for the Borders space at The Shops at River Crossing include Fashion Mall tenants looking to expand at lower rents or new-to-market concepts looking to break into the city's most high-end retail corridor.
The owner of the space, locally based PK Partners, likely will divide it to accommodate multiple tenants, said leasing agent Barbara Zike. She said several potential tenants are eager for the space but no leases have been finalized.
An official at Hamilton Town Center said manager Simon Property Group is working on a lease deal for the former Borders at the mall's entrance, though he declined to identify the prospective tenant. An organic grocery concept had been looking at the space last year.
Retail brokers told IBJ in July the vacant bookstore locations likely would not languish on the market since the chain had chosen its real estate more carefully than the likes of Circuit City and Cub Foods.
The Borders stores at Castleton Square Mall and Hamilton Town Center sit at the front door of successful malls, the River Crossing store is next door to The Fashion Mall at Keystone, and the former downtown Borders stands at the prime corner of Washington and Meridian streets.
The shuttered former stores range in size from about 23,000 square feet to 33,000 square feet.