In a major retail coup, Hilldale Shopping Center has wooed one of the region’s busiest retailers away from the city’s largest shopping mall.
Apple has announced that it will move its Apple Store out of West Towne Mall to the south end of Hilldale. The store, believed to be between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet and scheduled to open Saturday at 10 a.m., is between University Book Store and a 15,000-square-foot L.L. Bean store scheduled to open in spring 2018.
The Apple Store move has been rumored for months, but officials at West Towne and Hilldale had declined to comment. Apple made no indication of the move until it recently updated its website for its West Towne location and last week unveiled an Apple logo on the facade of its Hilldale location. On Monday, the Apple website said “An inspired move. Come see us at Hilldale on August 12 at 10 a.m.”
The addition of the Apple Store to Hilldale will bring an instant increase in traffic to the shopping center that over the past 10 years has undergone a remarkable transformation. The owner of the mall, WS Development, has reconfigured 55,000 square feet of retail space on the shopping center’s south end to create an outdoor courtyard, create entrances that open to the street and provide more visibility.
The project took away about 10,000 square feet of retail from the mall but created a new entrance for the AMC Dine-In Madison 6 movie theater, previously known as Sundance 608 Cinema. It also relocated University Book Store and has created a space for a restaurant that has not yet been announced.
“Its going to be one ... sexy store,” said Don Van Wart, who co-owns Twigs, a women’s clothing store at Hilldale across the street from the new Apple store location. “It’s going to be huge. From (the movie theater) to Macy’s has been dead for over a year, and now it’s just going to be new life and new energy. The Apple Store is going to be spectacular.”
Eric Slivka, editor in chief of MacRumors.com, told the Wisconsin State Journal in April that he wouldn’t be surprised by the move to the shopping center that is owned by WS Development.
“It’s a small store (at West Towne), and Apple has been methodically renovating, expanding, and moving its stores to convert them to the company’s next-generation designs,” Slivka wrote in an e-mail. “Hilldale seems like it would be a good option. ... Apple has also worked with WS Development in a number of other cities, so there’s already a good relationship there.”
The West Towne Apple Store opened in July 2007 and was the third store in Wisconsin, joining Milwaukee-area stores at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale and at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. Apple has not added any stores to the state since but has nearly 500 stores in 22 countries.
In addition, Foxconn, a major contractor for Apple, has proposed building a $10 billion, 20 million-square-foot manufacturing plant in southeast Wisconsin. The Taiwanese company is also looking for a 20-acre site in the Madison area on which it can build a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that could employ as many as 650 people over the first five years of operation.
Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, marketing director for West Towne, said in an e-mail Monday that the West Towne Apple Store will close Friday.
“It’s unfortunate that Apple is closing, but the 4,800-square-foot store is well located within the center and there has already been strong demand for the space,” Schultz wrote. “Callister’s Christmas will be taking the space for the holiday season, and moving in shortly after Apple departs.”
The redevelopment of the south side of Hilldale nears completion just over two years after the grand opening of a $15 million, 53,000-square-foot redevelopment between Macy’s and Metcalfe’s Market that created an open-air corridor on the shopping center’s north end. That project included the relocation of New Balance shoes and the addition of kitchen retailer Sur la Table, clothiers Kate Spade, Mes Amies and Michael Kors, LUSH cosmetics, Pier South, Home Market and Cafe Hollander.
Hilldale, which opened in 1962, is one of the city’s oldest shopping destinations but was purchased by WS Development at a 2012 sheriff’s auction for $52 million. The property had been owned by Chicago-based Joseph Freed & Associates, which bought it in 2004 and spent millions on upgrades that included parking structures, a streetscape and shops and restaurants on the east side of the property.