By Amy Higgins
Downtown Cincinnati shoppers will have less to choose from yet again with at least three - maybe four - stores closing in Tower Place Mall.
The closures come as a new consultant is starting to figure out how to bring more stores to Fountain Square, seen as the heart of a revitalized downtown.
Banana Republic confirmed Monday that it will shut its doors at the end of January, when its lease runs out. The upscale clothier has been at the downtown mall since August 1991.
A company spokeswoman would give no clear reason for the closure but indicated that the nearby Rookwood Commons store opening in 2000 might have weighed into the decision making.
"They look at a number of factors, including the number of stores nearby," said Jordan Benjamin, spokeswoman for Banana Republic. She added that no decision has been made about the Gap store, which also has locations in Tower Place Mall and Rookwood Commons.
Business dries up
Essentials for the Body and Soul, on Tower Place's skywalk level, also will close around mid-January, owner Vera Stastny said. The aromatherapy shop has been in the mall for six years, but recently business has slowed too much.
"Business has really been spiraling ever since the riots," she said. "This year was less than ever. There's just not enough traffic in this mall."
Stastny said she will continue operating online and is considering relocating, possibly to Oakley, but has made no decisions.
Williams-Sonoma, a cooking and kitchen supply store, also is closing, but the company could not provide details Monday about when and why. The company, which also owns Pottery Barn, has another location in Kenwood Towne Centre.
Franklin Covey also might close and consolidate its business to its other location at Kenwood - depending on what happens with its Tower Place lease renegotiation, said company spokeswoman Debra Lund. She didn't know if there was a timetable or when the existing lease expires.
Executives with Faison Associates, the Charlotte, N.C., firm that owns the mall, did not return phone messages.
John Alschuler, the consultant hired to revitalize downtown, has criticized Tower Place's design for facing inward and taking traffic from sidewalks.
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