MERIDEN — Several new businesses are set to open in the Meriden Mall, boosting optimism for the future.
Wallingford resident Priscilla Alvarado is opening Classy Spark, a store that offers an individualized shopping experience designed to match clothing and accessories.
“I have faith in the management team to turn it around,” she said of the mall. “I just want to bring a new piece. Chris (Powers) is wonderful especially for someone like me who has never owned a shop before.”
Alvarado, originally from New York, has worked in management all her life. She currently works in another mall shop but will be leaving soon. She expects to open Classy Spark later this month.
She wants to inject her own style of retail and educate customers on different ways to wear different things. She will offer customer loyalty programs and bring a touch of New York flair to her merchandise.
“The mall has a little bit of everything,” Alvarado said. “But I want to bring my own programs and rewards. New York has always been busy and first. I want to bring some of the heat.”
She will also have an online store.
In addition to Classy Spark, two other stores, Queen Jewels Collection and a Gift for Everyone have recently opened. Mall management has also signed food court leases with Rooster’s Chicken & Waffles and Best Romano Pizza.
“We are excited for her and her new business,” mall Manager Chris Powers said about Alvarado. He was also pleased about the new stores and eateries filling vacancies. “These are signed leases for new tenants and we are optimistic.”
The mall, located at 470 Lewis Ave., lost three anchor stores in the past four years, but has managed to achieve what other malls have struggled to do: It filled a former JC Penney store with Pennsylvania-based Boscov’s department store, and has a medical office developer interested in filling the vacant Macy’s space.
MedCraft Healthcare Real Estate won Zoning Board of Appeals approval in March for a special exception that would allow a health care service facility to occupy the former Macy’s.
According to the plan, the 180,000-square-foot former department store will get a new facade, new canopies and landscaped parking areas. In addition to the ZBA nod, the plan also received site plan approval, and a wetlands permit.
“MedCraft is still in the due diligence stage of the contract,” said City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest. “I know they have all the approvals they need from the city.”
Mall and city officials hope the new medical center, which could house physical and occupational therapy centers and other health related specialties, will draw more traffic to mall stores.