The past few months have not seen much visible transition at , but according to General Manager Kevin Keenan, the mall is getting ready for some significant new leasing activity in 2013.
Keenan is not able to provide a list of those retailers quite yet since leases have yet to be finalized, but he anticipates they will create quite a buzz next year.
"You have a fixed amount of real estate, so for every new concept, someone else needs to leave," he said. Keenan said the challenge is that unless an addition is planned – which is not on the horizon at Westfarms – there's just not enough room for all that want to be there.
There are a few new tenants preparing to build out their spaces, however.
In about eight weeks, Keenan said, Pinkberry will open in a soon-to-be-renovated spot on the lower level near the . This will be Pinkberry's third store in the area, following the success of the location which opened last September and a store in Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.
Keenan also said that Salon 944 is preparing to take over the old Heidi's spot, and plans to open in 8-10 weeks.
The Art of Shaving – a high-end shop that specializes in shaving products and includes a "barber spa" offering an old-fashioned shave and a haircut – will also open in 8-10 weeks. "It's a beautiful store with great, unique merchandise," Keenan said. "It's rare that we open a store that primarily caters to men."
There have recently been a few unexpected tenant changes at Westfarms, with the closings of Nike Running and Cole Haan.
"I hate to see them leave, but whenever there are vacancies it creates other opportunities," Keenan said. Temporary stores are often waiting in the wings for just those chances.
Keenan said that Go Books & Calendars has taken over the Nike Running space, and Christmas in Connecticut will move into the Cole Haan space next month and remain until the end of the year.
"We expect to lease both spaces quickly; they're great locations," Keenan said.
Even as the mall gears up for what Keenan calls the second busiest shopping season – back to school and back to work – he is in "various stages of conversation with 30 or so retailers," he said.
Leasing space in a mall in general, according to Keenan, is "much more science than art," since it's nowhere near as simple as putting a "for rent" sign on the door. Westfarms is continually trying to attracted new-to-the-market unique retailers, as well as high-end retailers, and some of those negotiations can take two to three years to arrange for a particularly desirable location.
As an example, Keenan said that when came into Westfarms in 2011, three stores had to be relocated. , , and Hallmark all moved to new sites, and Urban Behavior closed.
Along with Anthropologie last year came Urban Outfitters and Free People, all part of the same retail family, making the switches worthwhile. and were also some 2011 successes.
Keenan said that for the future they are looking to bring more luxury retailers to Westfarms, and there appears be an appetite based on the success of and . He also wants to continue Westfarms' "unmatched offering of retailers for young children and young adults."
The retail industry is always well ahead of the calendar, and Keenan said that plans for the upcoming holiday season began in January. The fourth quarter, he said, will bring Santa and the Ice Palace, which this year will showcase themes from the animated movie "Ice Age: Continental Drift."
Although there will be a center court celebration when the Ice Palace opens, events are not a major part of Westfarms' operations, Keenan said, with the exception of "events" like the currently-running Anniversary sale which is inked on many calendars well in advance.
"They detract from what we're all about. Our philosophy is to let our retailers be the stars of the show," he said.