The center of Oxmoor Center has been removed including the escalators and elevator.

If you’ve been to, say, the Apple Store at Oxmoor Center lately, you noticed a lot of the Shelbyville Road mall is missing.

That would include the demolition of center escalators and the second floor including where the mall’s food court once was located.

What we didn’t know until this afternoon was, Oxmoor is about to be transformed.

At 4:56 p.m., Stockholm, Sweden-based fast-fashion house Hennes & Mauritz AB announced it’s taking 27,000 square feet of space split between the ground floor and the second story.

The H & M store, the global chain’s first in Louisville, will go toward the center of the mall, with its entry on the first floor in a space that was previously leased by Elk Creek Winery, said Oxmoor Mall General Manager Jacob Sappenfield.

H & M also will take a space vacated by Francesca’s, an apparel store relocated to Oxmoor’s center court, Sappenfield said.

This space above the Kay Jewelers store will be H & M’s second level. (Click all images to enlarge.)

H & M will have roughly 11,000 square feet on the first floor, which includes visibility at the front of the mall facing Shelbyville Road, along with about 16,000 square feet on the second. The second floor, which is under construction, will be over the existing Kay Jewelers.

“The second floor doesn’t mirror the first,” Sappenfield said. “It shifts more to the left” as you face the store entrance, he added.

The H & M space will have no second-floor access, with the remainder of the shopping center’s second story essentially going away to make room for internal cosmetic changes, Sappenfield said.

The ongoing demolition and renovation construction will remove the second floor, with all internal stores on the mall’s common area on one level except for the two-story H & M.

Multi-story anchor tenants Sears, Macy’s, Von Maur and Dick’s Sporting Goods will be unaffected.

Sappenfield declined to give a value for the project, saying “it’s multi-millions.”

The changes will open up common area at the 42-year-old mall, “streamline it and make it more open and inviting,” Sappenfield said. The now-dismantled elevators and stairs in the center of the mall blocked shoppers’ vision to the point they might not even have realized there were other wings, he said.

“The nice thing now is, you can stand at center court … and see the south wing. You can stand at Macy’s (on the east) and see all the way to Von Maur (on the west.)”

We broke the “H & M is coming” story back in January. But until this afternoon, mall management has been silent despite having told tenants they would have a full internal statement in January.

Several Oxmoor tenants told Insider Louisville this week H & M would lease 25,000 square feet including second-floor space. “The original plan was for offices on the second floor, but that didn’t go anywhere,” said a source. Retailers had long complained foot traffic never made it upstairs in the common area, according to the source. “Now, we’re hearing H & M will take the second floor, but will have a first-floor entrance, possibly from where Elk Creek Winery was at the front of the mall on the north side.”

The source was spot on.

The source added several other retailers are in lease negotiations with Oxmoor management.

H & M “is a big win for Louisville. It’s another sign Louisville is growing,” Sappenfield said. “Louisville is getting a lot of hard looks from a lot of retailers,” something that wasn’t happening until a recent spate of retail coups, he added.

Oxmoor and other centers have signed H & M, Anthropologie, Trader Joe’s and Urban Outfitters relatively quickly, he noted.

Landing H & M and Anthropologie, part of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, at Oxmoor makes it easier to get the attention of other hot prospects, he said. “We say, ‘Look, Louisville has similar demographics – including population and household income – to these other four cities you’re looking at.’ ” Landing better retailers makes it easier to attract talent to Louisville, “and attracting the talent makes us more attractive to retailers,” Sappenfield said.

During construction, Oxmoor management has installed signage stating the demolition/construction is related to a redesign that “will be nothing short of dramatic” with:
• higher ceilings
• skylights
• tile floors
• seating areas
• new children’s play area
• “exciting new retailers”

By Sappenfield’s count, this will be the fourth major renovation of the mall.

In an 1998 renovation, then owner, Seattle-based Winmar, invested about $15 million. That small amount of money paid for a major facade upgrade, internal cosmetic improvements and even reworking the north entry road.

So, it will be interesting to compare when GGP finally releases a value for this current project.

Back in 2008, GGP executives in Chicago told me they had tentative plans to restructure both Oxmoor and Mall St. Matthews – about one mile east of Oxmoor at 5000 Shelbyville Rd. – into an open “festival center” design similar to The Summit – Louisville. The Mall St. Matthews project alone was valued at about $50 million. However, the recession intervened.

But both GGP malls remain the top retail destinations in the Louisville market.