By Ron VandenBoom
Havre Holiday Village Shopping Center continues to move forward in its attempt to fill vacancies and reach full occupancy, its manager said.
Tiffany Korb, in a presentation to the Hill County Democratic Central Committee Tuesday, said Holiday Village has a number of new stores and local teenagers are back.
"We'd lost the whole teenage crowd in recent years since Payless left and Maurice's left," she said. "Now it's nosier and we have more people."
Korb detailed steps being taken by Security National Properties, which purchased the shopping center in January and has been trying to revive it.
Maurice's a business that catered primarily to the teen crowd, left Holiday Village more than a year ago only to return to the same location.
Another business due to open sometime in October is On Cue a music and electronics store that will also cater to teenagers, Korb said.
Another spot she identified only as "slot 45" has been leased. She said she could not release the name of the business.
Pizza Pro has also opened a branch in the Village and the cell phone service In Touch also now occupies space.
Havre Sears and Maranatha Christian Supply also have moved into the Village from their old locations in downtown Havre.
Small booths called kiosks are also in the future of the Village, Korb said. The kiosks will be located in the common area of the shopping center and house small businesses.
The first kiosks will be set up in July to house Whakpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump. As many as six kiosks will eventually have slots in the Village, Korb said.
One store Korb said the shopping center owner would love to get is a shoe store, but so far efforts have been unsuccessful.
Korb said the biggest challenge facing the shopping complex is to fill the shopping center's two largest spaces, one that once housed J.C. Penney and the other Woolworth, followed by Gibsons.
Security National Properties, Korb said, is working to find tenants for the stores and one of the two slots is being looked at by what she described as "a variety type of store." The other vacancy is also being considered by several companies that would split the space into two sections.
Like Korb, Fred Griffith of Security National Properties, which bought the Village from OCWEN, was also vague about who is looking at the spaces. But he confirmed today that one looks "really positive." He said there may be an answer by the end of summer.
Korb told the Democrats that Havre can't expect some of the bigger stores like Target or ShopKo to want the spaces the Holiday Village has to offer because they have to be able to compete with the 96,000-square-feet of Big Kmart.
"They prefer to build their own building," she said. "The big guys are not willing to do that."
Few changes in the parking lot can be expected this year except for striping, Korb said. The company is waiting for the two big spaces to get filled before investing in the parking lot.
Roofing work will continue on one of the larger end slots, she said.
"Their No. 1 priority is renting spaces," Korb said. "And they are still adamant that the mall will be full by this time next year."
The entire atmosphere at the Village is one of optimism, Korb said. "As the stores begin to open and people start showing up, it makes the store owners optimistic."