Aroostook County’s only JC Penney store has signed a new two-year lease at the Aroostook Centre Mall, mall owner Dana Cassidy said.
The news brings a note of stability to the beleaguered mall, which earlier this year faced mounting debt and closure. Cassidy, a local developer, bought it in March. With JC Penney staying and construction ongoing on a new 24-hour gym and massive trampoline park, the mall is inching closer to Cassidy’s goal of revival at a time when other Maine shopping centers are declining.
“They’re happy with their accommodations and they signed a two-year lease,” Cassidy said Wednesday. “At the end of two years, I’ll have half a dozen new businesses, to include the gym, trampoline park and laundromat, and my thought is that their business will increase.”
The Aroostook Centre Mall is the largest Maine mall complex north of Bangor. As many businesses have come and gone, JCPenney has remained in the same spot and is the only one left of the original four anchor stores, which included Sears, Kmart and Maine retailer Porteous when the mall opened 30 years ago.
The facility was thrown into turmoil in February when then-owner Kohan Retail Investment Group refused to pay its utility bills. Closure was imminent when Cassidy purchased the mall at auction.
Earlier this month he announced construction of a new 24-hour gym and massive indoor trampoline park, and said a new bakery and pizza restaurant would open soon.
Construction crews are now building at the Omni gym site in part of the former Sears store. A concrete crew from Newport will be on site Tuesday to create a new 30-by-17-foot entrance for the gym, Cassidy said.
Trampoline City, a 300,000-square-foot complex with 200 trampolines and 13 different events for kids and adults, will be built in another part of the Sears space.
Next week a $17,000 group of bounce houses will come to the mall’s food court area, Cassidy said.