Cafaro Co. buys Dillard’s in Boardman

WARREN — A subsidiary of property and mall developer the Cafaro Company has purchased the building of the soon-to-be closed Dillard’s department store at the Southern Park Mall.

The sale for $8.92 million closed Wednesday — the same day Dillard’s announced it would be closing its Southern Park Mall location by May 14.

“We learned some time ago that Dillard’s wanted to close its Southern Park location, so our executives started thinking about the possibilities, and made an inquiry to Dillard’s,” said Cafaro Company spokesman Joe Bell. “We saw this as an opportunity to revitalize, perhaps re-energize that part of the mall.”

Boardman SC LLC, the Cafaro Company subsidiary, purchased the property from Higbee West Main LP, according to the Mahoning County Auditor’s Office. The building is 180,000 square feet.

Southern Park Mall, operated by Columbus-based Washignton Prime Group, did not own the building where Dillard’s is located, according to Bell, who said that is not too unusual in malls. Higbee West, based in Chesterfield, Mo., is a subsidiary of Dillard’s Inc., according to Bloomberg.

Dillard’s corporate spokeswoman, Julie Johnson Guymon, declined to comment on the sale. A message seeking comment was left with Washington Prime Group.

Bell said finding another department store to inhabit Dillard’s is the “first choice,” but “there are any number of possibilities for that space.”

“It’s a little too early in the process to be talking about that,” Bell said. There have been discussions with a “number of entities about the possibilities, so that process is underway,” Bell said.

About 120 employees will be displaced when Dillard’s closes in the coming months. It was the only announced closure, and Guymon said the company continues to operate the Niles Clearance Center in Eastwood Mall as one of 27 such outlets outlets nationwide. The Dillard’s at the Cafaro-owned Eastwood Mall leases the space it occupies.

Dillard’s operates 14 locations in Ohio and, with clearance centers, 292 locations in 29 states.

Washington Prime Group will offer the Dillard’s employees career counseling and a job fair.

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