NORTH COVENTRY — Management at what will soon be the former Coventry Mall has announced on social media what many on social media have been saying for weeks — that the interior of the mall will soon be closed.
“The time has come to make the difficult announcement that the property known as the Coventry Mall will be going through a major re-development that will forever change the way the property is presented,” read the statement posted on the Facebook page for the Shoppes at Coventry.
“Over the past several months and over the upcoming summer season, there was and will be tenant moves that position the property for the interior portion of the mall to be closed off for redevelopment,” read the statement.
A sign hanging off the entrance to the former Pier One store indicates tenants are being sought for the Shoppes at Coventry.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
What that means exactly remains unclear.
Robert Sichelstiel, chief financial officer of Plymouth Meeting-based Pennmark Management Co., did not return several calls this week seeking further explanation. The company purchased the Coventry Mall in April 2016.
This artist’s rendering was posted with the Facebook post about changes coming for the former Coventry Hall.(Image from screenshot.)
“The primary focus of this project will be similar to the renderings attached to this post. (tenant names subject to change and are shown as artistic representation only). If you drive by the property today you will see that construction on this portion is well underway! You can also stop in to see our newest tenant Big Phil’s Bar and Grill,” according to the announcement.
This photo of the current south-facing mall facade, which includes the new restaurant “Big Phil’s, shows the area portrayed in the rendering.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
“As for the question of who will remain, Boscov’s, Kohl’s, Dick’s, JOANN Fabrics, Community Health, Roses Department Store (coming soon), Gabe’s, Anytime Fitness and more to be named in the coming weeks,” the statement concluded.
This map, provided by Pennmark Management Co. in February, shows a reconfiguration of stores at Coventry Mall.
In February, Sichelsteil told MediaNews Group that rumors posted on social media about what will happen to the interior sections of the mall — that the interior of the mall will be transformed into self-storage units — are only potentially true.
Multiple options are being considered for the interior of the mall including self-storage and knocking part of the building down and making it into green space, Sichelsteil said two months ago. The recent announcement offers no clarity on that question.
Most of the interior shop locations in the Coventry Mall are empty.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
The announcement also leaves open the reaction of the major anchor stores at the mall, all of which had leases giving them rights to what happens at the building because they all have inner entrances to the mall.
“We had hoped to have a decision by April, but at this point, all we can do is proceed with the modifications to the out-facing entrances,” Sichelstiel said in February.
However, North Coventry Township employee Denise Diehl said Friday that to date, no permits or applications have been filed with the township other than those dealing with the renovations on the south-facing facade.
Only a few of the former food court tenants at the Coventry Mall remain.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)
That changes are coming was evidenced recently when a mall employee could be overheard talking with one of the kiosk tenants about where they are moving to a new location.
Most of the stores inside the mall are empty and only a few tenants remain in the food court there.
The economic challenges the mall faces, exacerbated like so many things by the COVID-19 pandemic, are not unique to this location.
In 2020, CNBC predicted 25 percent of the nation’s malls would close in the next five years.