The Mervyn's chain went out of business, closing 175 stores, including the one at 5545 E. Broadway.


Hobby Lobby has signed a lease to open in a 55,000-square-foot space in the former Mervyn's at the northeast corner of East Broadway and North Craycroft Road, a company representative said Tuesday.

The vacant big-box store that Hobby Lobby will move into at 5545 E. Broadway will be subdivided, with Stein Mart occupying the smaller portion of the main building and Vitamin Shoppe and Mattress Firm leasing two smaller retail spaces on the property.

The location will be the popular arts and crafts chain's first in Tucson, J. Scott Nelson, assistant vice president of Hobby Lobby's real estate department, said in an email. One or two more Tucson stores are planned, he said.

"This particular location, being in close proximity to the mall and on Broadway, makes it a convenient location for our customers in Tucson," Nelson said.

The complex is between El Con and Park Place malls. About 90,000 cars pass by daily, according to marketing materials for the property.

The slicing of big-box stores into smaller retail spaces is becoming increasingly common as retailers look to downsize during the recession.

"I think you would find what happened (at the former Mervyn's) to be in line with what's happening around the country," said Nancy McClure, a commercial real estate broker and retail specialist at CBRE Inc. "It's an expensive process to go through, but one that I think finds tenants. There just aren't that many tenants looking for 80,000 square feet anymore."

Bryan Babits, a Phoenix-based leasing executive with Weingarten Realty, agreed. "It's a big trend," he said, noting that in Phoenix many furniture stores and fitness centers are moving into the newly subdivided big boxes.

Weingarten also recently did a deal in Tucson that split the former Ultimate Electronics at the intersection of Oracle and Wetmore roads down the middle. Cost Plus World Market will occupy 17,910 square feet, and Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts will lease the remaining 16,049 square feet, Babits said.

The complex at Broadway and Craycroft is slated for an exterior face-lift and an upgrade of the parking area, said Tommy Roof, vice president of W.E. O'Neil Construction, the tentative contractor.

He said construction was scheduled to wrap up before Thanksgiving.

There's no firm date yet for Hobby Lobby's opening, but Nelson estimates it will take the company four months from the date the landlord delivers the property to open the store.

Mervyn's was one of several major chains that went under during the recession, leaving vacant big boxes behind them. Mervyn's LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed its 175 stores in 2008.

Contact reporter Carli Brosseau at or 573-4197.