tuscola mall

The Tuscola Outlet Shops parking lot sits empty Thursday in Tuscola.

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TUSCOLA — Once home to more than 40 retailers, Tuscola Outlet Shops is down to 13 stores, according to its online directory. That’s down from 27 there in April 2019.

But shoppers continue to come to the remaining stores, a city official said.

“There’s no question it’s down,” City Administrator J. Drew Hoel said. “Vacancies are up out there. It’s sort of, number one, the natural progression of outlet malls. Retail is down, and COVID hasn’t helped.”

Neither management nor owners of the Tuscola outlet property were available to answer questions. The mall manager referred calls to the corporate office, Mason Asset Management, in Long Island, N.Y., which didn’t return a call to The News-Gazette.

While traffic at the outlet mall may be lower, “I still see cars out there, quite a bit, in fact,” Hoel said.

Tuscola no longer gets sales-tax information from the mall property and its individual stores, because a former redevelopment agreement that required that information to be provided is no longer in effect, he said.

Now, he said, “we have to look at overall trends of revenue at large.”

Remaining stores, according to the mall’s website, included American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, Carter’s, Chico’s, Coach, Famous Footwear, Maurice’s, Old Navy, Polo Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, Van Heusen, Verizon and L’eggs Hanes Bali Playtex.

Mason Asset Management acquired the Tuscola mall in 2018. It currently has a national portfolio of more than 120 shopping centers, including 16 in Illinois.

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