By Ron VandenBoom
Tiffany Korb beamed with optimism Friday as she told the North Central Montana Pachyderm Club she is excited by the energy shown by the new owners of the Havre Holiday Village Shopping Center, Security National Properties.
"I'm very excited," she said. "I have never felt the energy that they create when they come up."
Security National Properties, of Eureka, Calif., purchased the Holiday Village Mall Jan. 11 from the Florida based OCWEN Company after finalizing negotiations that began in July, 2000.
Korb, who has worked as the marketing manager for the Havre mall for about 10 years, started her own company, TK Management Co., so she could manage the shopping center for the new owners.
She told the Pachyderms that Security National owns shopping malls from Louisiana to Alaska and have some properties that are very comparable to the Havre complex. Korb said the new owners have a very good record of buying, at a low price, shopping centers that are in trouble and turning them around., a fact that Korb said she validated by talking to people at all of the other properties Security National owns.
"Their lowest occupancy rate is 98 percent," she said.
Security National is using several strategies to bring the Havre shopping center up to what Korb says will be 80 percent occupancy by Christmas 2001 and 100 percent occupancy within 18 months.
One strategy, Korb told the Pachyderms, is for Security National to target four or five retailers per space so that they can have at least one that will take a lease.
Another strategy involves being flexible with current, and prospective, mall retailers on lease agreements to insure they stay in their current location.
Renters are not being required to sign three and five year leases, Korb said.
"Since I've been there that has never been done," Korb said. "So that gives a lot of credibility to what they're saying."
According to Korb, current tenants are also being told that if they don't believe the new company is going to do what they say, "than don't renew your lease until I prove it to you."
Several new retailers are interested in spaces in the mall, Korb said.
Triangle Telephone just finished the details on their lease Friday to occupy the old ComNet slot next to the Gallery Restaurant, Korb said.
Other retailers considering spaces in the Village are Vanity's, Maurice's, and On Cue - a CD, computer software, and musical instrument business.
Korb said a representative from Maurice's visited the Holiday Village and is interested in the same space they used to lease before pulling out of Havre in 1998.
Most of the people who closed the store originally are no longer with the company and they think it's very exciting to have a market like Havre in a building that they had remodeled, Korb said.
"All they have to do is set up their cash and wrap and they're ready to go," Korb said. "So she was very excited."
Security National certainly won't quit trying, Korb said. "They're very aggressive."
The large spaces that once housed J.C. Penney's and Gibson's are thought to be too large to attract a single retailer, Korb said. Instead, Security National is considering breaking them up into additional retail shops or to lease as office space.
"We just don't have the population to support the big retailers," she said.
Reminded that the people of Havre have heard all of this before when OCWEN purchased the Village, Korb responded by telling the Pachyderms that unlike OCWEN, Security National hasn't sold any of their other properties and their excitement, energy, and willingness to work with retailers is unique.
"This is the community they need to live in - that's going to support them so they really want to support the community," she said.