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Published: Friday, 4/24/2009

Frenchtown Square Mall to get rehab, new tenant

BLADE STAFF

MONROE - Monroe's largest retail complex for the last 20 years will be getting a face-lift.

The Cafaro Co. of Youngstown said it will commence an eight-month long, multimillion-dollar renovation of its Frenchtown Square Mall property beginning Wednesday.

At a "ceiling-breaking" event that day, the owner also plans to announce a major new tenant for the mall, which is on North Monroe Street.

The shopping center has Sears, Target, and Elder-Beerman as anchors, and lost its Steve & Barry's clothing store this year when the retailer filed bankruptcy.

Joe Bell, a spokesman for Cafaro, said the mall hasn't had major work, only minor painting, since it opened in 1988.

"A lot of malls in America have reached that cycle in their life when they need a face-lift. It's time for this mall to have one," he said.

The renovations, which will cost $5 million to $12 million, will involve new floors, ceilings, skylights, lighting, and an improved food court.

Cafaro plans to pay for the renovations out of company funds rather than finance the improvements.

Mr. Bell said all the renovations will be done at night when the mall is closed, and they should be completed by November.

If the situation warrants, the mall could be expanded, he said.



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