Rural King buys Maple Lane Mall
La PORTE — A national “farm and home department store” chain promises to breath fresh life into the moribund Maple Lane Mall when it moves into the space formerly occupied by Kmart.
Rural King, headquartered in Mattoon, Illinois, closed on the sale of the 17-acre parcel, including the 221,000-square-foot mall, on Oct. 27, according to La Porte County property records. The purchase, from a trust with International Bank of Chicago, was for $1.4 million.
The store won’t likely open for another year, according to a company official.
“We will be taking some of the property for our store and then also trying to attract other retailers to the area,” Rural King marketing manager Sue Francis said.
Kmart closed its store in the mall in March. Al’s Supermarket, on the opposite end of the mall, closed in July 2016.
Dunham’s sporting goods, Family Dollar and Chinese restaurant Gourmet House are among tenants still using the building, which was constructed in 1975. Remaining stores in the mall no longer share common areas.
Francis said Rural King, with more than 100 stores nationwide, has been known to purchase buildings left vacant by retailers such as Kmart or Sears.
“We look for communities where our customers need us to be, then from there we look for properties that will fit our needs,” she said.
The local store will employ a mix of full- and part-time employees, but Francis could not say how many.
“We’ll be happy to be in La Porte, and we’ll be there as soon as we can,” she said.
Family-owned Rural King, founded in 1960, offers a mix of products including livestock feed, farm equipment, agricultural products, lawn mowers, clothing, housewares and toys.
The company has stores in 12 states, including one in Niles, Michigan. Indiana stores include those in Monticello, Logansport, Fort Wayne and Kendallville.
City officials were pleased another retailer was interested in the west-side space.
“I think it’s going to be good for the community,” Mayor Mark Krentz said. “To be continued, I guess, but I’m hopeful this will revitalize the area.”
Greater La Porte Economic Development Corp. executive director Bert Cook called the announcement a “major win” for the city.
“That’s one of the larger parcels we have, and I’m really excited to see a new retailer coming in and utilizing what is currently a vacant building,” Cook said.
No economic development incentives were requested, he said.
Margaret Dickerson, project manager for the city, said Rural King had not yet submitted plans for the building, which would be required before any permits could be issued.