Kettering’s 64-year-old Town & Country Shopping Center is preparing for its first significant facelift in 27 years. The $7 million renovation took a big step forward with the announcement on Thursday that T.J. Maxx has signed on to become the new anchor store in the middle of the city’s “downtown” shopping center.
Other changes coming to the 250,676-square-foot center include the expansion of Trader Joe’s and the creation of a pedestrian breezeway between Buffalo Wild Wings and Jos. A. Banks. This walkway, which will be covered, will connect the center with the Village Shops behind the center.
“Buffalo Wild Wings is probably going to have a patio out there,” said Pamela Cochran, the property coordinator at T&C. At the moment, the only existing connector from the back of the mall to the front is through 2nd and Charles.
The T.J. Maxx store will occupy 23,000 square feet at Town & Country. T.J. Maxx calls itself an “off-price retailer” that sells “brand name and designer fashions that are 20 to 60 percent less than department and specialty store regular prices on comparable merchandise.”
T.J. Maxx is a national retailer that currently has stores at Austin Landing in Miami Township and near the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. In February, T.J. Maxx announced that it is raising employee wages to $9 in June, and next year employees who have been with the company at least six months will see their hourly wage rise to $10.
In addition to T.J. Maxx, shopping center officials say the center will also get a new junior anchor store that will occupy 14,000 square feet adjacent to T.J. Maxx, although discussions with a prospective tenant are not yet complete.
The center’s facade (the front of the mall) will be updated as part of the new construction. The stores in the center atrium have all been moved to make room for the updates.
“The stores that we are moving, like What’s Poppin’ and Senses, have all increased in square footage,” Cochran said.
Trader Joe’s, a specialty grocer, is expanding from 10,000 square feet to 12,500 square feet. “They’re so popular here that they needed the extra room,” Cochran said.
Molly McGinnis, the marketing and special events coordinator at Town & Country, said she expects the planned changes to have a ripple effect in the center.
“By the time all the construction is done, nearly every store in the front strip will have been updated within a couple years,” McGinnis said. ”Even the stores that aren’t being affected by the initial change are going to update just because they see us making the investment.”
Town & Country’s grand opening was in 1951, and the shopping center was a huge success. According to Scott Byer, the Urban Studies teacher at Fairmont High School, the last major renovation at T&C was in 1988.
Many people probably don’t know this, but T&C actually was the first shopping center in the area. “It was the first shopping center in Montgomery County. The two partners had started building strip malls and they saw the advantage of buying this property,” Cochran said.
The center has 33 stores, a few of which have been there for a very long time.
“The one thing we’re proud of is that most of the tenants have been here for many years. Some of them have been here 30 or 40 years,” Cochran said.
The center couldn’t exist without the help of the Kettering community, and Cochran and McGinnis both know and appreciate this.
“Kettering is a very loyal community. They stick with the shopping center and support us in a huge way,” Cochran said. “We’re partnering with the City of Kettering to make this their downtown area.”
McGinnis agrees with Cochran about the loyalty of Kettering residents.
“I think the biggest thing is the commitment to the city. We knew the City of Kettering would like to have some type of downtown area. This renovation project is their opportunity.”