Dillard’s to expand into former Herbergers space in Southgate Mall

Herbergers’ departure from Southgate Mall after declaring bankruptcy last year may serve to benefit Dillard’s, which now plans to expand into the vacant space.

The mall announced the move on Wednesday, saying construction will begin in the former Herbergers location to make way for Dillard’s expansion.

Tim Winger, the mall’s general manager, hinted at such a move last month and confirmed it this week.

“We had confidence that valuable space wouldn’t remain dark for long,” Winger said. “That location is tied to an area we call our ’50-yard line’ with dozens of community events occurring nearby throughout the year.”

Nearly a year ago, the Washington Prime Group based in Columbus, Ohio, purchased the mall for roughly $58 million from Southgate Mall Associates in Missoula.

Last month, Winger said the new owners have placed renewed focus on the concept of building a community center, even as it continues long-term plans for the property. Many of those plans were set in motion by the prior owners.

“The Southgate Mall team is absolutely thrilled that Dillard’s is seizing this opportunity,” Winger said. “We look forward to working with their extremely capable local team toward the new store opening.”

Winger said Dillard’s ranks among the nation’s largest fashion retailers with annual sales exceeding $6.2 billion. The Dillard’s store offers a broad selection of merchandise and featured products from both national and exclusive brands.

“I have previously espoused the virtues of Dillard’s as a consummate merchandiser for the simple reason they understand and, as importantly, respect the demographic constituencies which they serve,” Lou Conforti, CEO and director of Washington Prime Group, said in a statement.

“We expect more of the same as they expand into their second location at Southgate Mall which serves the city of Missoula, as well as western Montana.”

Wednesday’s news marks the first major announcement from the mall after its purchase by Washington Prime. In early 2018, the mall welcomed the opening of the new AMC dine-in theater, followed Lucky’s Market.

“We want to become the community center, and Washington Prime wants us to become the community center,” Winger said. “They want to go further and they bring that national pull to work different angles. They have a robust marketing department, leading us down the path of more events and events with value.”