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REGIONAL ROUNDUP

Northridge Mall Reopening Delayed Until October

March 22, 1994

The earthquake-damaged Northridge Fashion Center will partially reopen in October, not in July as previously expected, a spokesman for the shopping mall's owner said.

"We were just overly optimistic" in hoping for a summer reopening, said John Graham, vice president of property management at Dallas-based MEPC American Properties Inc., which purchased the mall one month before the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake.

Northridge Fashion Center, about a mile from the earthquake's epicenter and by far the most badly damaged mall, will delay its reopening because of a lack of parking spaces, Graham said. All four of the parking structures at the mall are being rebuilt. And the shopping center's six department stores--Sears, J. C. Penney, Bullock's, Broadway and two Robinsons-May facilities--are using parts of the open-air parking lots as staging areas for their construction crews.

Sears is expected to be the first department store to reopen in October. At that time, there will be enough parking available to reopen some of the mall shops, Graham said. The rest of the mall will reopen in stages and is expected to be back in full operation in about a year, he said.

Graham added that the Bullock's store, which collapsed in the quake and has been condemned, might replace one of the Robinsons-May stores instead of reopening in a newly built store at its old site. The mall would then have only one Robinsons-May, and MEPC would try to find a sixth anchor tenant to build a new store. He said the company is talking with other department store owners, and he is "confident" that MEPC will find a new tenant.

The mall has also been undergoing an extensive cleanup of asbestos that was shaken loose during the quake and is removing all remaining asbestos. That process is expected to be completed by May 1.

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