The owners of the Diamond Run Mall said Monday that they never intended to maintain it as a mall.
Zamias Services CEO Joe Anthony said that confidentiality agreements prevent him from saying when the mall will close, but that the day is coming. Zamias built the mall before selling it to a real estate company that ultimately surrendered the property to its mortgage holder. The mortgage-holder brought Zamias back in to manage the mall and then sold it to a New Jersey LLC backed by an Israeli investment company which was buying U.S. malls in partnership with Zamias.
“We purchased that property to redevelop it,” Anthony said Monday. “We intend to redevelop it. ... It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what’s happening to small- and middle-market malls in America.”
Anthony said they plan to convert the property into a “mixed-use” facility, but could not go into any detail. It was his first interview with the Herald on the subject since Zamias resumed management of the mall in 2013. Calls to the company had gone unreturned since the sale later that year.
“Certain developers do things certain ways,” Anthony said. “They announce things that they don’t have tenants for. ... Some wait until they have tenants committed. We are the latter category ... As we finalize deals and I get permission to release the deals we finalize, we’ll certainly let you know.”
Anthony said he planned to discuss his plans with the Rutland Town Select Board in the near future.
“It won’t be a traditional enclosed mall,” he said. “Our opinion is, with that location and the things the greater Rutland area offers ... I think there will be a project, when we do announce it, that everyone would have open arms for.”
Select Board Chairman Joshua Terenzini said Anthony described plans for the mall in general terms following the purchase.
“He’s had a long-scale vision of the property that would include different components of entertainment, entertainment venues and other repurposes that I’m not really at liberty to speak of right now,” he said. “What’s down the road, if it comes to fruition, will be very exciting.”
At least two businesses were evicted last week — though Anthony said both were behind on rent — while another described plans to move to downtown. Employees at Old Navy told customers over the weekend that they would be out by the end of October. Old Navy’s corporate offices responded to inquiries Monday with an email saying the store would close “later this year” but that a specific date was unavailable.
With Mountain Man Music planning to move downtown, Downtown Rutland Partnership Executive Director Steve Peters said early Monday he was planning to visit other shops at the mall with materials about opportunities downtown.
“We’ve got space and we’d love to have them,” he said.
Downtown occupancy rates have begun to rebound after a long slump, according to Peters. He said the last inventory, taken at the beginning of the year, put the first-floor occupancy rate at around 70%.
“Since then, a few of those have filled up,” he said.
Castleton University spokesman James Lambert said recent developments on the mall have spurred theories that the school is buying it — claims he said are baseless.
“We don’t have any plans in that direction,” he said.
Lambert said the university owns the building that houses Spartan Arena and leases the land at that end of the property and that they remain committed to keeping the facility accessible for the community.
“We have a long-term lease in place and we feel secure in that,” he said.