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Artist rending of The District at West Acres (view facing south).

Fargo mall announces 'The District at West Acres,' a cluster of restaurants, 'experiences'

FARGO — West Acres mall has unveiled plans for a multi-million dollar development project next to Best Buy that will fill most of the remaining space that had once been occupied by the Sears store.

"The District at West Acres" will take over the vacated space and will feature a 30,000-square-foot cluster of restaurants and "experiences," Brad Schlossman, chief executive of West Acres Development, announced during a press conference Tuesday morning, Oct. 30.

The new addition on the north side of the mall will feature four to five restaurants with a focus on first-to-market, regional and local concepts, Schlossman said. The first of those restaurants to be opened will be Minnesota-based Crave American Kitchen and Sushi Bar. The 7,000-square-foot fine-casual dining restaurant is expected to open up in spring 2019. It will include a three-season porch and a large patio space and outdoor bar.

The total budget for creating The District, plus the fit-up costs for the Best Buy store now in operation, will be $15 million to $20 million, Schlossman said.

Crave will be located in the spaces vacated by a Radio Shack store, Lux Spa and the mall entrance next to the Forever 21 store. A new mall entrance will be built to the east of Crave to connect The District to the mall. It will be the first Crave restaurant in North Dakota.

Crave has eight locations in Minnesota, plus restaurants in Sioux Falls, S.D., Sioux City, Iowa, and Bethesda, Md.

"We have always believed that the city of Fargo would be a great place to open a Crave restaurant, and we're even more excited about opening at the West Acres mall with their multi-million dollar investment in the launch of The District," said Kam Talebi, founder and CEO of Crave Restaurants. "We're proud to be part of the Fargo community, and look forward to bringing the Crave dining experience to our guests at West Acres mall."

The District will "create a casual, warm, inviting and unique" environment, Schlossman said. "We are transforming ... in order to bring customers in."

The District is a concept that works well in other regional malls, Schlossman said, including the Southdale and Rosedale malls in the Twin Cities.

West Acres Mall announces new 30,000-square-foot space

Schlossman said mall officials are working on finding a tenant or tenants for another 6,000 square foot space remaining from the original Sears building on the southeast side of the mall.

Schlossman said West Acres has been "extraordinarily stable" over time, and has welcomed nine new stores and expanded four others in the last 18 months.

West Acres is touting the project as the largest since the creation of the food court in 2001, which encompassed $19 million in new construction and renovations.

Sears closed its West Acres store in April 2017, after being open about 45 years in that location.

Best Buy celebrated its grand opening in June of this year in 50,000 square feet of the former Sears space. The big box technology, appliance and consumer goods retailer had moved from a 45,000-square-foot standalone location at 1615 38th St. S., just southeast of the mall, where it had operated since 1994.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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