Orchards Mall offering rent incentive to potential stores

New owners of The Orchards Mall are making a pitch to potential anchor stores by offering three years of no rent. The Benton Township mall is set to lose its last anchor store, J.C. Penney, on July 5. 

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The new owner of The Orchards Mall is getting creative in an effort to add an anchor store.

Durga Property Holdings Inc., which is listed as the owner of the mall, is offering three years of no rent to any big box store willing to set up shop at the Benton Township mall. 

Montu Bedi, an administrative developer of Bedi and Associates LLC, is handling business development affairs for the mall on behalf of Durga Property Holdings.

With J.C. Penney expected to close July 5 – which is the mall’s last anchor store – Bedi said they have hired a company to begin reaching out to other big box stores.

Bedi said they offered J.C. Penney three years of rent-free space, but the retailer’s corporate office rejected the deal.

“We would be willing to extend that offer to any anchor store that is willing to come to Orchards Mall,” Bedi said. “We have put a plan in place, but it will take some time to get it to where it needs to be. Building Rome doesn’t happen overnight. With the amount of turmoil that’s happened there, it will take some time.”

Bedi commended Berrien County on its willingness to work with the mall and said he believes a lot can be done if an anchor store comes to the mall.

“Malls are not what they used to be, but it has great potential,” Bedi said. “I was amazed when I drove around and saw some of the developments. “Had (the mall’s previous owners) communicated with the county and township, they would have gotten some help.”

The mall has had trouble keeping its anchor stores in recent years.

J.C. Penney’s corporate office announced it would be shuttering its Benton Township location in March this year.

Penney’s announced closure came a year after the mall lost Carson’s – which also had long served as an anchor store. 

Prior to that, a full-service Sears store closed a decade ago.

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