A new attraction aims to draw shoppers back to Fort Worth’s Ridgmar Mall just in time for the holiday season.
The SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium opened this week inside of a space that, until recently, had been occupied by seven vacant storefronts. SeaQuest “takes you on an adventure through rain forests, deserts and the depths of the seas,” according to the company’s website.
The introduction of an aquarium is a smart decision, according to Ian Pierce of The Weitzman Group, a commercial real estate brokerage firm based in Dallas. Pierce said that shopping malls have been fighting a losing battle to online retailers for years, but that “an aquarium is something you cannot experience online.”
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The story of Ridgmar Mall has been similar to that of other malls across the country in recent years; the formerly “it” locations of the 1970s, 80s and 90s have largely fallen out of favor.
Ridgmar lost two of its anchor stores within the past year: Macy’s closed along with nearly 70 other stores across the country, and Neiman Marcus pulled up stakes and relocated to the new, open-air Shops at Clearfork shopping center along the Chisolm Trail Parkway.
GK Development, the owners of Ridgmar, envisioned a proposed redesign and expansion of the mall that would “include a mixture of retail, restaurants, and residential living in an open air environment with an urban streetscape.” No further details of that proposal have been released.
GK Development did not respond to an NBC DFW inquiry for this story.
According to a mid-year report of the Dallas-Fort Worth retail market, Weitzman estimated that the local area has bucked the national trend of brick and mortar retail trouble.
DFW has maintained a record-high occupancy rate of 92.7 percent since 2016, which is the highest it has been locally in more than three decades, according to Weitzman.