Hull Property Group of Augusta, Ga., purchased the mall last June, announced Monday the addition of Dunham's Sports and the start of a multi-million renovation of the Kingsport Town Center.
Dunham's Sports will be located on the second floor at the top of the escalator in the old Belk's Home Store. Dunham's Sports is the Midwest's largest sporting goods chain with 230 stores located in 21 states, offering a full line of sporting goods and athletic equipment.
Work to expand and remodel the space has begun, and the retailer is expected to open this fall.
And as part of the renovation effort, the property will be re-branded back to its original name of the Fort Henry Mall, a move HPG officials say will emphasize its connection to the community.
“We are proud to be in Kingsport and believe the Fort Henry Mall can be a first-class venue for shopping, dining and entertainment,” said Jim Hull, founder and managing principal of HPG. “We could not have made this type of investment had it not been for the progressive leadership of community officials.
“The start of this landmark renovation coupled with the addition of Dunham’s Sports and the recent announcement of the new theater is a testament to what we can achieve together.”
Last June, HPG purchased the Kingsport Town Center for $5 million and announced plans to revitalize and renovate the 40-year-old mall into more of a “fashion-type mall” catering to apparel tenants.
According to a release from HPG, the renovations will include new restrooms and ceilings, the installation of carpet throughout the common areas and improvements to interior lighting. Additional upgrades will include new decorative accents and the installation of colorful community murals and historical photographs over vacant spaces. Exterior work will include upgrading all entrances and new signage.
Crews began covering up the vacant spaces last week. HPG has obtained two remodel permits from the city of Kingsport for the property — one for $250,000 for the remodeling of the theater space and another for $35,000 to remove the escalator, install a new set of steps and relocate the elevator.
The mall will remain open and operate normal business hours during the renovation, which is expected to be complete this fall.
“We have stated from the beginning that the Fort Henry Mall is an important asset for the community and that by working together we could orchestrate a new and bright future for this property,” said John Mulherin, vice president of government relations for HPG. “This renovation project, made possible through the enactment of the PILOT agreement and the vision of local leaders, will save jobs and create new sales tax revenue for the community.”
Earlier this year, the Kingsport Economic Development Board signed off on a $2.3 million incentive for HPG for the redevelopment of the mall property, with the company pledging to invest $4.6 million in the building over the next five years.
Following a legal dispute over unpaid rent, Frank Theatres and HPG reached an agreement earlier this year in which Frank Theatres would leave the mall by the end of April.
Frank's last day was April 30, and work is underway to renovate the theater space, soon to be filled by NCG Cinemas, a Owosso, Michigan-based company that operates 20 theaters.
Theater renovations will feature new ceilings, paint, flooring, lighting, restrooms and signage in addition to an expanded lobby and improved digital displays, projectors and sound systems.
NCG Cinemas plans to open later this summer.
“The transformation of the Fort Henry Mall is the first step in stabilizing this valuable property,” said Ky Widener, senior vice president of leasing for HPG. “This allows our leasing team to retain existing tenants and attract new tenants like Dunham’s Sports and NCG Theaters. This is a huge step in the right direction for this mall.”