NAMPA — The new owners of the Karcher Mall in Nampa are alerting several businesses that they’ll need to vacate in 30 days.
Rhino Investments purchased the Karcher Mall in May and is planning major renovations. Rhino Investments CEO Sanjiv Chopra told the Idaho Press that four businesses received a three-day notice to vacate because they haven’t been paying rent, and several others received 30-day notices for differing reasons. He said the tenants who received 30-day notices either don’t hold normal operating hours or they don’t pay enough rent for the space they occupy.
“The new owner has decided to take the Karcher Mall in a different direction and therefore has asked that a 30-day notice be given to tenants,” reads the notice to vacate, which a mall tenant showed the Idaho Press. “Please remove all personal property and contact our office to schedule a time to return the keys.”
Karcher Mall General Manager Jennifer Jacobs would not comment on how many businesses were given notices, and Chopra said he couldn’t remember. Seven businesses confirmed to the Idaho Press that they were told to leave, and officials from those businesses said many more received notices, as well.
Chopra said Jacobs has tried to reach out to all of the businesses that received 30-day notices to tell them they had options to remain in the mall if they were willing to follow the criteria of a more standard mall, such as pay a higher rent and hold regular hours. Some would also need to relocate based on the design of the remodel. Chopra said Jacobs may not have talked to some tenants yet because of their abnormal operating hours.
Rhino Investments is planning a $50 million renovation at Karcher Mall, pending city approval. Tentative plans include building apartments in the back parking lot and demolishing a portion of the east wing of the mall. Work could start as early as late July, Chopra said.
The mall opened in 1965 as Idaho’s first indoor shopping mall and thrived for several decades until the Boise Towne Square Mall opened in 1988. In recent years, Karcher Mall has struggled to stay full. The several vacant spaces include a large void where Burlington Coat Factory used to be. Burlington and other stores such as Maurices have opted to locate in the Treasure Valley Marketplace instead, anchored by Costco Wholesale off Interstate 84.
“Not a lot of people in Nampa are shopping at the mall,” Chopra said.
Jacobs did not comment on the mall’s current vacancy rate or total number of active tenants. Chopra said he did not know. A store directory on the mall’s website lists 40 stores, but some are included that have since closed, such as Burlington and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Five of the seven businesses that spoke with the Idaho Press are in the mall’s east wing, slated to be demolished. About 10 businesses total are in this section, but Chopra said not all of them received notices. Officials from the five businesses — Aracelay’s, Nathan’s Cellular, Nathan’s Pretzels, Under the Rainbow and Sikk Stuff — said their business was up to date on their rent.
Chopra said two of the four businesses that are behind on their rent are in this section of the mall, while the other two are in a different section. Chopra did not name the four businesses in question and did not specify how long the tenants have not been paying their rent. He said by asking them to leave instead of suing them, he is losing “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” One tenant owes about $65,000, he said.
James Robbins, owner of A+ Picture Framing, is on the west side of the mall, and said he received a notice to vacate last week. He wouldn’t reveal the details of the notice but said he owed money to the previous owners. As a result, he said he is planning to move his business to a new space across the street.
Although Robbins said he’s heard a lot of negativity from business owners and mall customers about the upcoming changes by the new owners, he sees the project as a positive opportunity for Karcher Mall. A sign Robbins posted on the outside of the store announcing the store’s move reads, “Good things take change.”
“Whenever there’s change, people assume the worst,” Robbins said. “And it needed to change.”
Chopra said the mall’s bigger retailers — Mor Furniture for Less, Big 5 Sporting Goods, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and Ross Dress for Less — are staying at the mall.
Several businesses next to Mor on the east side of the building have not received notices to vacate yet, but they’re still not sure of their future at the mall with the coming changes. One nonprofit near Mor, Gold Buckle Champion, said they were given the opportunity to stay but are opting to leave because their rent would go up from $150 a month to $4,500 a month, according to executive director Sue Marostica.
Chopra said some of the mall’s tenants are paying as little as 6 cents per square foot right now. Any rate below 25 cents a square foot isn’t profitable, he said.
Cierra Courtright, floor manager at skateboard and body jewelry store Sikk Stuff, said some of the businesses that were given notices, including Sikk Stuff, have been at the mall for decades. A 30-day notice is not a big window for many of the businesses to find other locations, and she said she doubts all of them will survive.
“It’s pretty overwhelming, I’m not going to lie,” Courtright said.
Sue DeLaCruz, employee at gift shop Under the Rainbow, said the Karcher Mall was built when she was 4 years old, and as she’s grown up, she’s watched the mall rise and fall in popularity. If the store’s owners don’t find another location for Under the Rainbow, she’ll be out of a job, and she estimates another 20 or so other mall employees will, too. After starting at the store two years ago, she said her work is not something she wants to give up.
“I love, love my little job,” DeLaCruz said.
Chopra estimated his company’s project will bring 500 to 800 jobs to Nampa through the new retailers the mall will house in the future. Chopra said he wants the end result of the project to be similar to The Village at Meridian. Part of the demolished mall will be converted into parking space, and a portion of the parking lot behind the mall will be used for multifamily housing.
As much as some business owners are seeing the changes as a curse, Courtright said she also sees it as a blessing. She said while the new owners could have treated the existing businesses better, she also believes it’s about time for Nampa to get a decent mall.
“Nampa deserves it,” she said.