HAZLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The owners of the Laurel Mall near Hazleton made an announcement Thursday concerning the mall’s future. Unlike many malls that are seeing stores leave, new businesses are moving in.
Hobby Lobby and Planet Fitness will soon fill the space that was a Kmart.
Often visitors to shopping malls are told anchor stores like Kmart or Sears are closing and leaving the mall and a shopping experience like this has seemingly become a thing of the past.
“Well, to me it is. I don’t see many people around or shopping, you know, packages and stuff like that,” Mickey Citro said.
Leaders with the Laurel Mall near Hazleton say they are beating the odds.
“Even though it looks grim other places, it’s surely not grim here at our mall and thank God we are pleased for that,” Rocco Arruzzo said.
Especially as they announced what will be filling this empty anchor space.
“I’d like today to announce that we signed leases with Hobby Lobby and Planet Fitness to occupy three-quarters of the former Kmart location,” said Alan Retkinski, Lexington Realty International.
Officials with the Laurel Mall tell Newswatch 16 the mall employs about 925 people. With these two new tenants comes 100 more jobs to the area.
“A lot of times we hear it’s not, but it is. The Hazleton area is growing and the mall is a big part of it with the jobs,” Arruzzo said.
Joe Barkanic says he comes to walk and visit with friends. They hope these new tenants will bring more people to the mall to keep it thriving.
“It will increase the attendance. People will come to the mall. It’s something different. It will help,” Barkanic said.
Leaders with the mall say Planet Fitness will begin construction on Monday and should be open in about 12 weeks depending on the weather. Hobby Lobby is scheduled to open sometime in 2020.