The Boulevard Mall will replace its food court with a full-size Dick’s Sporting Goods store, but the mall’s popular children’s play area will not disappear. And two current, but undisclosed, restaurants will relocate elsewhere in the mall.
Dick’s signed its lease with the mall Monday to build a 55,000-square-foot, full-service store on the site of what is now the mall’s food court. The food court will be demolished, and the store newly built. The company will close its current Dick’s location, just north of the mall on Meyer Road, and relocate.
Construction dates have yet to be hammered out, but the food court will close in the next two or three weeks. The mall is hoping to begin building the new Dick’s store by the end of the month, with an expected fall opening.
“Dick’s is a popular, established retailer, and it’s a quality retailer and we feel it will drive traffic to the mall,” said Betsey Bonvissuto, the mall’s marketing manager.
Mall food courts have been shrinking across Western New York and the country for several years. Walden Galleria’s food court is half its original size. Eastern Hills Mall’s food court is smaller, too, having chipped its original 12 restaurant spaces down to 7.
At 38,000 square feet, Boulevard Mall’s food court is roughly the same size as Walden Galleria’s – despite having about half as much retail space as the mammoth Galleria. And since mall food vendors do a large part of their business serving mall employees, it makes sense that Boulevard Mall, with about half as many stores as Walden Galleria, would have fewer food vendors to serve that smaller pool of workers.
“Overall, we’re still committed to providing both sit-down restaurants and affordable, casual food options,” said Brian Calvert, Boulevard Mall’s general manager.
The mall will install a new children’s play area, roughly the same size as the current one, in the concourse near JC Penney. Geared toward toddlers, it will have a woodland theme and include such features as a log tunnel, wooden bridge and slide, as well as animals such as a turtle, rabbit and butterfly. It is expected to open Jan. 19.
The mall’s Boulevard Buddies children’s program, as well as its special events and visits from Santa and the Easter Bunny, will continue in a yet-to-be-determined spot. The next scheduled Boulevard Buddies event will be held in the concourse near Sears.
The carousel, which is operated by a third-party, California-based vendor and is not a mall-supplied amenity, has closed and will not relocate in the mall because there is no other place inside that is large enough to accommodate it.
“There’s a concern that just because the food court’s not going to be where it is now, that we won’t continue to do our community events, but that’s not the case,” Calvert said. “Of course we’re going to find areas that it makes sense to hold those community events, and we’ll continue to hold those events more than anyone else out there.”
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