Times are tough for brick and mortar retail locations, particularly indoor malls. Just look at Vernon Mall in Kinston (hint: it’s vacant).
New Bern Mall (aka Twin Rivers Mall) has been soldiering on, trying to fill remaining vacant out parcels and upgrade its interior tenants over the past several years.
One such attempt was securing a Cracker Barrel. The mall’s owner, Hull Property Group, filled in a drainage pond and completely re-engineered its drainage system along with part of its parking lot in order to make space for a Cracker Barrel.
The Cracker Barrel was to be located in the southeast corner of the mall, next to Chick-fil-A, a restaurant that is so busy it creates its own traffic jams near the mall entrance.
The deal fell through.
Now Hull Property Group is developing a portion of that location as a dental office.
The site plan describes the facility as a shell building, which usually implies that a tenant will be sought after the building is complete. However, Hull Property Group, on its website, announced back in March that Aspen Dental would be opening a location. The announcement was brief and to the point: “Aspen Dental will be coming to the New Bern Mall and will occupy approximately 3,500 sf.”
Now, plans for a dental office are coming before the city Departmental Review Committee on Sept. 14. That’s the stage where the site plan gets reviewed and critiqued by various city departments to make sure it passes muster.
A project plan at this stage is no guarantee that the project will actually happen.
The addition of a dental office to the New Bern Mall footprint is not exactly an exciting addition. It’s maybe even less exciting than the Mattress Firm store that opened there several years ago. Certainly it’s nowhere near as exciting as the Buffalo Wild Wings and Starbucks that opened there during the same timeframe, and the renovation of Belk about eight years ago.
Still, given the congested nature of that portion of the New Bern Mall parking lot, a dental office may be a good fit.
New Bern Mall has faced stiff competition for new tenants since the development of New Bern Marketplace farther west on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That new shopping center landed an enlarged Harris Teeter, Ross, Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports, and, unofficially, several restaurants.