The managers of the retail space in University Square are searching for a grocer to move in after Roundy’s chose not to put a franchise in the new development on East Campus Mall.
Though it was reported in February that Roundy’s — a Milwaukee-based grocery franchise — was going to open a store in University Square shortly after August, the company has since backed out of the deal, according to Susan Springman, president of Executive Management, Inc. that manages the complex.
Springman said EMI never received an official reason from Roundy’s for their surprise decision, saying, “We thought we’d reached an agreement.” EMI is still attempting to find a grocery store to fill Roundy’s shoes, she said.
Springman added EMI’s efforts to get a Target department store to move in never got beyond just being an idea during their planning phase. She added there was never an agreement to bring in Target.
Originally, EMI expected to have the retail section of University Square filled by the end of the year, but Springman said it will likely take until sometime next year for the space to be fully occupied.
“We’re behind our schedule, but we were also pretty optimistic — even for a good economy,” Springman said.
According to Springman, the difficulty in filling University Square’s space is related to the struggling economy. She said retailers in general are cutting back on their expansion efforts, making it hard to find businesses that want to invest in new stores. The problem has affected the real estate industry as a whole, she added.
However, Springman said things are looking up now that the construction on the East Campus Mall is over. The noise and large machinery of the construction were a detriment to foot traffic, making the area less attractive to passersby, she added.
Now that University Tower is complete and University Health Services is set to move in, the presence of more people in the area will also bring more interest from businesses as a place to set up shop, Springman said.
The complex is currently scheduled to host multiple new businesses that will be opening within the next couple of months.
Tanworld, a tanning salon, and Coffeebytes, a coffee shop, are expected to open in December while a cosmetology school, a hairdresser and a 24-hour gym are scheduled to open in January, according to Springman.
Pataya, a fashion retailer that targets college-aged students, should open within the next 30 days, Springman added.
Representatives for Roundy’s did not provide an official reason for backing out of University Square as of press time, but spokesperson Vivian King says there are multiple reasons why they would back out of an agreement.