Michaels store opening latest in ‘rebirth’ of Middletown shopping center

Eastgate Plaza has been helped by location and cost of new construction, owner says.

MIDDLETOWN — A Michaels craft store will open in days in a reborn Middletown shopping center that has benefited from its location and from a trend involving “second-generation” shopping centers, according to the plaza owners.

Over the years, the Eastgate Plaza on Roosevelt Boulevard has added Tractor Supply Co. and Big Lots, and just weeks ago Name Brandt Distilling had its grand opening.

Michaels, another national brand, is expected to open its craft store early in February, officials said.

Those four retailers join longtime tenants Mane Event, Cricket Wireless, China King Buffet and Save A Lot.

Robert Lang, vice president of real estate for Kamin Real Estate, owners of the shopping center, cited two factors in the “rebirth” of the plaza: its location on one of the city’s most heavily traveled roads and the escalating cost of new construction.

Instead of building, retailers looking to expand are finding homes in “second-generation” shopping centers, according to Lang.

The center only has one small retail space available for lease, he said.

Lisha Morlan, the city’s assistant director of economic development, said with the addition of the distilling company and Michaels, she expects the shopping center to be at capacity soon and possibly be a target for outlot businesses.

She called it “a domino effect.”

Michaels — North America’s largest provider of arts, crafts, framing, floral and wall décor, and merchandise for makers and do-it-yourself home decorators — is expected to have a soft opening on Feb. 2 and needs to hire dozens of temporary, full- and part-time roles over the course of the year, said Rebecca Talley, external communications specialist.

The store at 4601 Roosevelt Blvd. will host a grand opening event on Feb. 17 for the community that will include product demonstrations, free crafts and giveaways, Talley said.

Morlan said the Middletown Michaels location is called “a neighborhood store” because it is 13,000 square feet, about half the size of traditional stores. The store is managed by Josh Robinette, a Middletown native, she said.

Eastgate Plaza opened in the 1970s and formerly was anchored by Kmart and Dillman Foods. It also once was home to Bullwinkle’s Top Hat Bistro that later moved closer to Interstate 75, then closed its Middletown location.

All Kmart and Dillman Foods locations have closed, and the shopping center remained dormant until recently.

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