Chandler Fashion Center is in the midst of a mini-makeover as dozens of retailers are remodeling, moving to larger spaces or making their first appearance at the mall.

The big changes are the result of the 1.2 million square foot center reaching its 10th anniversary in October 2011, which involved leases expiring on about 450,000 square feet.

The mall was able to keep a large number of stores and lure some higher-end retailers despite the struggles many other centers have gone through, said Christina Lanoue, senior property manager.

The community’s large high-tech industry and big employers like Intel helped the area through tough times, she said.

“I don’t think we suffered as much as the other centers have,” Lanoue said. “There’s a very loyal customer to this center.”

The wave of changes began last year and should be complete by October, in time for the busy Christmas shopping season.

Some stores new to the mall are Lush, The Art of Shaving, and Francesca’s Collections. Vera Bradley is also planning a store.

The mall also brought in the Disney Store, Ann Taylor and lululemon athletica.

Lanoue said the center has been aggressive about luring more upscale shops that might be found in a place like Scottsdale Fashion Square. The mall will continue to work on bringing more of those stores to Chandler, Lanoue said, adding another round of leases will expire in 2013 and 2014.

Retailers like American Eagle and Buckle are rolling out their new store concepts. Many stores are under leases that require they remodel to ensure the center looks fresh.

“We’re at 59 remodels right now,” Lanoue said. “I think the positive thing is our heavy hitters are committing to this market to stay. Not only are they renewing, but they are getting new prototype stores.”

Until the wave of renovations is complete, some confusion could result because many stores are moving into different spaces.

“Hopefully we’ve got enough signage to guide them to the temporary stores while we build,” Lanoue said. “The objective is to keep them in business while they do their remodels.”

The mall’s owner, Macerich, operates four adjacent outdoor shopping centers that have had some turnover. Hobby Lobby is one of the larger new stores, but Macerich has other big spaces it’s still working to fill. An Ultimate Electronics remains empty, and The Great Indoors is liquidating its massive store as part of that chain’s demise.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or ggroff@evtrib.com

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