Haag Brown Commercial Real Estate and Development has set its sights on redeveloping the formerly known Indian Mall in Jonesboro through a collaboration titled the “Uptown Project.”
This project is aimed to bring new activity to the city of Jonesboro while replacing high-demand stores. “The two huge gaps that stuck out for the entire community were a bookstore and an electronic store,” said Josh Brown, principal broker at Haag Brown. “With Barnes & Noble closing and then making a statement that they were not returning, not having access to a bookstore in a city with a Division 1 university is huge. Best Buy also shut down, [you] don’t realize how much to rely on having a local electronic store until they’re gone.”
The two large retail stores having permanently closed forced the city to consider other options to bring back what was lost.
Connections within the community have allowed Haag Brown to begin plans for a new bookstore to return to Jonesboro. Although there is not a confirmed bookstore retailer for the Uptown Project, plans are in the making. “[We] were approached by one of our other clients who wanted to do a bookstore, and he has a relationship with the current CEO and former CEO of Lifeway, a Christian bookstore no longer operating as a physical brick and mortar retailer,” said Brown. “[He] also has some relationships in the retail world and is willing to go through the due diligence process to contribute a book store as part of this project.”
The space in preparation for the bookstore is roughly 10,000 square feet and adjacent to Gearhead Outfitters, a favorite retailer of Jonesboro and centerpiece of the project. “There’s a lot of cool stuff about this. This is the most historical retail property in our city. The Indian Mall, where the Uptown Project is located, was the first enclosed mall in our area, and specifically, Sears was the anchor,” said Brown. “This was the most important retail destination for 50 years, but then it got redeveloped.”
The surrounding area of the retail property has experienced growth as Kroger built a Marketplace location and Haag & Brown has progressed redevelopment with the introduction of new restaurants and Gearhead. “We felt the most important retail building in our history should feature the most important retailer in our city,” said Brown. “That’s been our local company forever. [Ted Herget] is our local. He’s up to around 30 stores now across the nation. Adding the most important retail building with the most important retailer locally is the cool thing about this project.”
Since word of the project has spread, more businesses than spaces have shown interest in being included. Haag and Brown has had to make careful selections in which retailers to include in the project. The bookstore is something the company knew had to be included. “We reached out to our audience through social media which is when our client started the due diligence process for the bookstore,” said Brown. “That was maybe three or four months ago and it has gotten really serious over the last month.” The client behind the preparations has also taken the initiative to include a cafe in the space.”
“He’s going through the motions of meeting with several coffee shop owners across the country that are similar to the object of this project. He is running the traps on a bookstore and cafe that I think will be great for the community.”
Haag and Brown is still in planning and development of the Uptown Project. The bookstore does not yet have a projected completion date as preparations and retailers are still being contacted, but the store is expected to be a beneficial addition to Jonesboro.