An official with Hauck Holdings, LTD, owner of the Huck Finn Shopping Center, says a new business will be joining Hannibal’s retail community, but it won’t be filling the void left when Kroger closed its doors late last year.
Harold Fry, vice president of leasing and marketing for Hauck, lease negotiations are underway with a department store that will utilize space in the building that now houses Sears.
“Sears will move over, which we’ve agreed to, and the department store will occupy that space,” said Fry, who cannot reveal the identity of the business at this time.
Fry would not speculate when an announcement might be made.
“We have a letter of intent, but are in lease negotiations,” he said.
The report that a new business is interested in locating at the shopping center is not surprising. At the April meeting of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council, George Walley, executive director, reported there had been considerable retail activity over the previous month. Without providing specifics, Walley told the group that as many as three deals were being finalized, including one for an “out-of-state” business that was looking to move into the Huck Finn Shopping Center.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce and Walley both indicated that the information inquiries they receive are from businesses interested in property on or near U.S. 61.
Rumors have been circulating locally that a new tenant was prepared to move into the nearly 37,000 square foot slot last held by Kroger. While Fry dispelled the speculation, he did say there is interest in the site.
“We are working with two or three prospects who have serious interest in the Kroger space,” he said, noting that negotiations for the property began in November. “We have two or three national tenants that are doing what I would call a market analysis.”
According to Fry, the door is open to dividing the former Kroger building. The grocery part of the store amounts to 28,000 square feet, while the pharmacy side of the site consists of about 8,000 square feet.
Fry is optimistic about finding a business or businesses to fill the building in the shopping center’s southeast corner.
“Hannibal has always been a steady market and a good market. We’ve always had tenants and prospects, particularly the national people,” he said. “It’s slower than a metro market because the national brokers can go to St. Louis and look at 15 sites, when they can come to Hannibal and look at one. They’re harder to get to Hannibal to look at sites, so it takes longer (to fill openings), but there’s been plenty of interest. It’s a great center.”