The Decatur Daily
By Tiffeny Owens
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Electronic Express will be moving into the former Dillard’s building at Decatur Mall.
Electronic Express moving into vacant location at Decatur Mall in spring 2013
One of Decatur’s most pressing retail needs is on track to be filled next year.
Nashville-based electronics retailer Electronic Express is moving into the vacant Dillard’s department store at Decatur Mall in the spring. It will be the company’s first Alabama store.
Crystal Brown, the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of business development, announced the development at the chamber’s board meeting Wednesday. The chamber has been aggressively pursuing an electronics store to stop the flow of sales tax revenue to Huntsville and Madison, chamber President John Seymour said.
The chamber’s Buxton Report puts electronics stores as its biggest retail hole to fill with an estimated annual loss of $5 million in sales.
“It’s a big deal for our city,” Community and Economic Development Director Wally Terry said.
Electronic Express has 17 stores in central Tennessee and sells TVs, computers, appliances and cameras with brands like Sony, LG, Dyson and Electrolux. Garrison plans to invest $5 million to carve up the cavernous, 85,000-square-foot Dillard’s space into separate stores and exterior facades for new retailers. Electronic Express will occupy 20,000 square feet.
Calls to corporate headquarters at Electronic Express, Decatur Mall Manager Kathy Hammond and mall management group Urban Retail in Boca Raton, Fla., were not returned Wednesday.
Electronic Express could become one of the first qualifying retailers Garrison can count toward its maximum $6.8 million sales tax incentive through the city, Terry said.
The agreement allows Garrison to retain 1.5 percent of proceeds on new retail activity and 0.75 percent on existing tenants expanding operations. Sales generated by the Carmike Cinemas under construction and the ongoing Belk department store renovation are not covered in the deal approved by the City Council last month.
Terry and other officials believe Urban Retail and mall owners Garrison Investment Group are “the right people” to attract new tenants and help expand existing ones in the aging commercial property.
Garrison bought the mall out of bankruptcy in 2010 and quickly began investing and improving the mall’s appearance.
In the wake of Dillard’s pulling out last year, Garrison convinced Belk to add a home store and spend $5 million to renovate its existing store, and Carmike to build a 12-screen movie theater.
Chuck E. Cheese is planning a 11,000-square-foot expansion, and T-Mobile updated its store after relocating into the former Bourbon Street candy shop.
Belk’s new home store opened in the former T-Mobile location.