The vacant Sears space at Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall is finding new life as Dave & Buster’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods plan to split the two-story site. The deal is also expected to bring a HomeGoods to the city for the first time to fill the former Dick’s space.
The new developments were discussed last week by city officials at a mayor’s town hall meeting.
“We are aware that there are some exciting new infill businesses on their way to Vintage Faire Mall,” Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold said about the developments. “While many other malls across the nation are struggling, ours is thriving.”
Jaylen French, the city’s community and economic development director, said negotiations between Macerich, which owns the mall, and the incoming businesses are still ongoing. While the city did not provide any incentives to the mall or companies, he said, officials were thrilled to have one of the area’s highest-profile vacancies filled.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “When you look at the downtown or the mall, dead spots are detriments. Filling them with new activity and life is positive all the way around. It’s great to see that right on the heels of Sears leaving, there is a plan in place to fill that vacancy.”
The Sears site has been empty since January, when the once venerable brand closed its Modesto store after more than 80 years in the community as part of its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. The department store had filled the hulking two-story anchor space on the east end of the complex since the mall opened in 1977, when Sears relocated from downtown.
Now the 150,000-square-foot former Sears store and accompanying auto center will undergo major renovations to accommodate the new tenants. The building will be divided between Dave & Buster’s and Dick’s. But the exact configuration has not been submitted to the city yet, French said.
Dave & Buster’s operates a chain of national entertainment centers aimed at more adult audiences, complete with large video arcades and sports bar style restaurants. Minors under 18 are not allowed in without accompanying adults. The Texas-based company has 126 centers around the county, with the closest current locations in Roseville, Milpitas and Fresno.
Representatives for Macerich and Dave & Buster’s did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. Last year, reports noted that Dave & Busters had been targeting empty Sears stores in malls across the country. In April, Dave & Busters announced the opening of three new centers across the country, all around 40,000 square feet in size with about 200 employees each.
French said he expects demolition and renovation work to begin in a couple months and the project will likely stretch into 2020.
Dick’s Sporting Goods has had a standalone location on the Vintage Faire Mall grounds since 2011, when it filled the 33,000-square-foot Circuit City site on Dale Road. HomeGoods, a national home furnishings chain, does not currently have any stores in Stanislaus County, with the nearest shop now in Tracy. But its parent company, TJX Companies, has several TJ Maxx and Marshalls locations in the region.
French said it speaks to the city’s growth to have two new national chains enter the market, and another expand to a larger location.
“We’ve seen a little bit of a buzz in Modesto with (developments) in some of the industrial areas, and even in the downtown there’s been a lot of commercial development,” he said. “All of this is just building on that momentum.”
Bee Staff Writer Kevin Valine contributed to this report.