Image courtesy of Woodsonia Real Estate Group

A Midwestern developer wants to spend $250 million to turn the largely-vacant Enfield Square mall into a mixed-use development.

Nebraska-based Woodsonia Real Estate Group secured backing from town officials Monday for a long-term property tax deal and $500,000 towards an estimated $1 million bill for pre-development costs.

The Namdar Realty Group-owned property is 85 percent vacant, minus an existing Target store that exists on a separate parcel.

In a presentation to town officials Monday, Woodsonia President Drew Snyder said his firm envisions tearing down the entire mall minus the Target store, and adding two hotels, around 450 multifamily units and roughly 165,000 square feet of new retail split across four large spaces and a cluster of smaller outbuildings along a pedestrian boulevard.

“We all know the square has seen its better days,” Snyder said.

With financial support from the town in hand, Snyder added, his firm will now turn to the state’s Community Reinvestment Fund seeking a $20 million grant, plus $6 million from the state for brownfields remediation costs, and finalize the project’s design before then securing rezoning and permits this summer.

“Public-private partnership is key. Without that the costs are extraordinary,” he said.

The biggest question marks for the project, Snyder said, are whether the state will deliver the full financing Woodsonia plans to request, and whether Sears will cooperate in abandoning its long-term lease on a store building it vacated several years ago.

“Sears does have a tendency at times to be difficult in these circumstances but we’ve had very productive conversations with those folks and we’re hopeful this can come to some sort of resolution without using some sort of pubic tool” like condemning, he said.

Town Manager Christopher Bromson told Enfield town councilors that he believed the project represents the community’s best shot to redevelop the property, given Namdar Realty’s approach, at other failed malls it owns, to sell or lease off large chunks of sites to warehouse or call center operators, leaving a rump mall that’s hard to redevelop.

“If this opportunity fails, given [Namdar’s] track record and what they’ve done with other properties, I’d predict that they’d let it just rot into the ground in decrepitude,” Bromson said.