We all benefit from real estate development

There can be no denying the incredible vision and business prowess possessed by members of the Cafaro family, real estate magnates who own dozens of shopping centers and other real estate nationwide, including the Eastwood Mall complex in Niles.

Then last week, Cafaro Company announced its $8.92 million surprise purchase of the 180,000-square-foot building that has been home to Dillard’s in Southern Park Mall.

Dillard’s owns its space in Southern Park Mall and announced in recent weeks plans to close the store by mid-May.

This is of particular interest because for decades Cafaro Company has focused its local attention on retail and economic development primarily in Trumbull County, specifically Niles and Howland. The company now calls the Eastwood Mall complex home for its newly constructed corporate headquarters.

All the while, Cafaro Company and its Eastwood Mall have competed for shoppers with Boardman-based DeBartolo Corp. DeBartolo opened Southern Park Mall in the late 1960s. Subsequent owners and retail developers of that prime Boardman property were Simon Property Group and now spinoff company Washington Prime Group.

Now, after a well-timed shrewd move, Cafaro will take over ownership and operations of the preeminent Boardman real estate space that is easily accessible and widely visible from the constant stream of traffic along U.S. Route 224. While Cafaro officials have been stealthy about their plans for the property, we suspect it won’t sit vacant for long after Dillard’s vacates the structure this spring.

As longtime experts in the retail industry, we would not expect Cafaro to be caught unprepared, even as bricks and mortar retailers who rent space in shopping complexes may struggle to compete with online giants like Amazon.

Cafaro executives see the value of bringing office space, hotels, health care facilities and other entertainment opportunities to their shopping malls in order to maintain the locations as more than just market places, but also as the gathering centers they have come to be for many decades.

And that’s a good thing because when there is real estate development — when retail continues to thrive and grow in our local economy — we all benefit.

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