1550 Coshocton Avenue

Pat Catan’s, formerly Knox County's lone major arts and crafts retailer, closed its Mount Vernon location on Sept. 29. The store had been open for nearly 10 years.

MOUNT VERNON – Pat Catan’s closed its Mount Vernon location on Sept. 29. But according to representatives from Regency Properties, which owns the shopping mall at 1500 Coshocton Avenue, that end of the property may not be vacant much longer.

Mayor Richard Mavis told Knox Pages he received a phone call Thursday from Shannon Farley, the Regency Properties leasing representative for Knox Village Square, saying the agency has a tenant “ready to sign the lease for that building.”

Jessica Wildeman, director of marketing at Regency Properties, confirmed this Friday.

“We do have a potential tenant,” Wildeman said. “The lease has not been signed yet, so I have no news to report on who it is. But we do have a potential tenant.”

Regency Properties will not release the name of the tenant until the lease is signed, Wildeman explained, “because no deal is done until the pen is on the paper.” But the commercial real estate company felt confident enough to call Mavis this week and alert him of the news.

“Months and months of negotiations are down to the final few weeks, and hopefully we’ll have a name to release within the next couple weeks,” Wildeman said.

Both Mavis and Wildeman said interest in the location has been high since Pat Catan’s announced it would be moving out. As soon as The Michaels Companies announced in April that it would not be converting the Mount Vernon Pat Catan’s into a Michaels store, Wildeman said Farley was on the phone with a prospective tenant.

“We moved right into, ‘OK, would you want this space?’ And it was a yes,” Wildeman said. “So there was interest, for sure.”

Whatever business fills the former Pat Catan’s location at 1550 Coshocton Avenue (the far east side of the shopping center) will be recognized as an anchor tenant of the complex, alongside Rural King and Gordmans. At 35,650 square feet, the space is the second-largest in the shopping center. Rural King towers over the rest at 94,374 square feet, while Gordmans is listed at 20,000 square feet.

While Wildeman could not say what type of business might fill the space, she noted that Regency Properties owns and operates retail shopping centers. The Indiana-based company “specializes in county seat communities,” according to its website, with shopping malls in mid-sized cities across the country. It owns two in Ohio: Knox Village Square in Mount Vernon (which it bought for $4 million in 2017, according to the Knox County Auditor’s website) and East Pointe Plaza in Bucyrus.

Regency Properties specializes in “necessity-based shopping,” Wildeman said, so that residents in mid-sized communities don’t have to drive out of town to shop for essential goods.

“We want to support that small community, so they don’t have to drive to the next town,” Wildeman said, “so that you guys keep the businesses there local and the money that’s coming into your town stays in your town.”

Knox Village Square has seen a significant amount of activity in recent years, with Rural King moving in last summer and Gordmans opening in June. The former J.C. Penny’s space is still vacant, but Mavis said Farley reported interest from prospective tenants for that location. Businesses in retail shopping centers tend to feed off each other, Wildeman added, which means interest may continue to rise after the former Pat Catan’s location is filled.

“We have picked up some traction in this town, as far as bringing in new tenants…” Wildeman said. “Our goal is to refill the Pat Catan’s space, get the excitement there, and then we believe the shopping center will continue to grow. Sometimes that’s all it takes, you know, just one tenant to really reset and allow everything else to pick back up.”

Farley has been reaching out to prospective local, regional and national tenants to try to find the right fit for Knox Village Square’s vacant spaces, Wildeman said.

According to Mavis, Rural King is interested in buying its end of the shopping mall, which could signal early financial success for the company’s Mount Vernon location.

“Apparently the store’s been solid enough that they want to own the property,” Mavis said. “And again, that’s speculation because I don’t have any inside [financial knowledge], but it seems to me if they wanted to buy it, they’re probably going to stay awhile.”

While Wildeman could not comment on Rural King’s financial success, she said the shopping center has benefitted from its presence over the last year.

“We’ve seen an uptick in foot traffic and just the overall traffic into the center has been great since they moved in,” Wildeman said. “They’re a great tenant.”

The next tenant to fill the former Pat Catan’s location would likely want to open around two times next year – back-to-school or the holidays – because those are typically high-traffic times for retail businesses, Wildeman explained. But it all depends on the type of business that signs the lease, and what its renovation plans are for the space.

“Everybody wants a new, shiny, fresh space,” Wildeman said, “so they’ll go in there and do some clean-up and all that good stuff.”

While Wildeman could not disclose the name of the prospective next tenant, she seemed excited about what lies ahead.

“We have exciting news, it just can’t be released at this time,” Wildeman said. “I would say within the next couple weeks, you’ll have a really exciting story to tell.”

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.