BY MARIA D. JAMES — The Mall at Prince Georges typically opens around 9 a.m. However, that didn’t stop anxious customers from lining up as early as 8 a.m. on Dec. 2. Their reason? The long-awaited grand opening of clothing retailer H&M. The ribbon-cutting ceremony started at noon, after which customers poured into the store to take advantage of grand opening sales and to use their 30 percent off discount coupon postcards mailed out to Hyattsville residents days prior.
New employee Ezekiel Lewis said he loves his new job and appreciates the growth opportunities within the company.
“I’ve wanted to work for H&M since I was 16,” said Lewis, who is now 18 years old. “I love H&M because they always want people to grow in the company.” Lewis and other store associates trained at the H&M location at Wheaton Mall prior to coming to the Mall at Prince Georges location. Currently, staffing is complete and management is no longer hiring additional associates.
Growth opportunities within the company also brought store supervisor Danielle Soloman to the area. After gaining experience opening several new H&M stores, Soloman, who has been with H&M for three years, was tapped to help open and manage the new location. She said the grand opening welcomed long lines that wrapped around the store and continued non-stop until 8 p.m. “This is exciting,” said Soloman. “We’re hoping to drive more business to the area.”
Driving more foot traffic to the mall is what the mall’s owners, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), are hoping for, as well. In April, the Hyattsville Life & Times shared breaking news that PREIT announced it would invest $25 million into a major overhaul of the mall. Shoppers will begin to see additional renovations to the mall beginning in early 2017.
In a recent interview with the HL&T, Heather Crowell, senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at PREIT, shared that the renovation would include both interior changes — such as new tenants, lighting, paint and seating — and exterior changes as well.
“We are hoping to enhance the environment, so there will be renovation on the interior and add a lot more curb appeal to the exterior,” said Crowell.
According to a press release issued on Nov. 14, renovations are slated to begin early next year and be completed in advance of the 2017 holiday season. When complete, 73 percent of non-anchor space will feature new storefronts, inclusive of new retail and dining options.
Joining H&M will be 11,000-square-foot Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the U.S., and a 16,000-square-foot DSW, which are scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2018. As of now, Crowell states the mall’s renovations will not include expansion; new stores will be added as current stores leave.
“The process of selecting new tenants for any of our properties requires understanding who lives in surrounding areas and considering what retailers will work best with those shoppers,” said Crowell. She shared that PREIT is considering reaching out to local residents about their thoughts on changes to the mall.
“We really want to add tenants that residents can get excited about,” said Crowell.