Kohl’s announcement points to uncertainty, likelihood of more changes at Southridge Mall

Kohl’s Department Store has announced it will relocate from Southridge Mall in Greendale to the 84South development in Greenfield.

Dave Fidlin/Special to the Post

GREENDALE — With unprecedented, rapid changes in consumer spending habits, Southridge Mall, the large shopping metropolis in the county’s southwest quadrant, faces an uncertain future.

Kohl’s, which has been a mainstay at Southridge since it opened in 1970, announced recently it was leaving its anchor tenant space within the venerable development, further magnifying the growing uncertainty.

Mirroring what a number of retailers are doing in the modern commercial development climate, Kohl’s late next year is expected to uproot its Southridge operations and relocate to a new mixed-use development, 84South, in Greenfield.

“Pending all municipal approvals (from the city of Greenfield), the relocated store would open in late 2018,” said Jen Johnson, vice president of corporate communications for Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s.

“The new, one-story 55,000-square-foot store will be smaller than the current two-level 85,000 store at Southridge Mall.”

Although it still has a healthy balance sheet, leaders within publicly traded Kohl’s have indicated they are addressing changing consumer habits by shrinking store footprints to remain competitive and profitable. The Southridge announcement follows this strategy.

Although the Kohl’s announcement knocks one of Southridge’s five anchor department stores off the roster, mall management and owner Simon Property Group have expressed optimism about the site’s future as a commercial retail destination.

“We continue to evolve to provide shoppers with more choices at their shopping mall,” Mary Mokwa, Southridge’s general manager, said in a statement.

Due to the uncertainty in brick-and-mortar department stores, the anchor lineup at Southridge could change.

Dave Fidlin/Special to the Post

Mokwa pointed out Southridge has several new developments on the horizon — the most prominent being Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres’ Bistro Plex, which is expected to open this summer on what once was parking lot space on the mall’s perimeter.

But Southridge’s traditional business model with a heavy emphasis on department stores as anchor tenants and a layout that requires shoppers to access shops inside the mall corridor might have to be tweaked…