The Lake Havasu City Council will vote on an rezoning ordinance at next Tuesday’s meeting that could help jumpstart more development at The Shops of Havasu.
In March, the Lake Havasu City Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a request by a local developer to rezone five sections of The Shops.
The proposed changes include three vacant, undeveloped lots along Highway 95 of 1.36 acres, 1.77 acres, 1.21 acres, and one odd-shaped parcel of 31.27 acres containing the mall/town center and food court area. The mall parcel also includes two undeveloped building pads of approximately 1.5 acres.
With the change from a General Commercial Planned Development District to General Commercial District, the hope is that other retailers will want to open a location at the beleaguered mall. When the shopping center was proposed in 2005, developers speculated it would eventually be one to three anchor stores, four to six mini-anchors, a movie theater, and roughly 80 to 90 shops, with about 1,400 full-time employees. It wasn’t long after they broke ground that Lake Havasu City, along with the rest of America, was caught up in the Great Recession.
Mychal Gorden, of Desert Land Group, spoke on behalf of the ownership group led by local man, Jarrett Portz, a business owner with a background in private equity. Portz bought 200,000 square feet of the mall, about a third of the total space there, and plans to focus on restaurant and entertainment businesses to create more of a destination atmosphere.
“We want to bring activity drivers to the mall,” Gorden said. “Things for kids, a mix of uses that would help the mall remain viable. For the first time, we have local ownership and that’s important. The Planned Development zoning was restrictive, so we believe this will help.”
Portz addressed the challenges of retail stores in malls that exist across the country.
“Retail has changed dramatically in the last decade, there are a lot of empty spaces there and there isn’t the infrastructure, plumbing, fire sprinklers, etc., that is needed,” Portz said. “Our vision is to do something more in line with what other successful places are doing.”
Portz’s plan is to focus on what he calls omnichannel retailers — an approach to sales and marketing that incorporates a combination of mobile browsing, internet shopping and brick-and-mortar customer service. It’s a trend that’s already caught on at the mall’s three anchor stores, Walmart, JC Penney and Dillard’s.
Council may also vote on an ordinance that would limit how many 911 calls can come from one residence.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.