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Five Guys, Kids Empire opening stores at Merle Hay Mall


Five Guys, a national burger chain, will open a location at Merle Hay Mall in 2023, the mall announced.

In addition, Kids Empire, an indoor play center for children, will open a location at the mall and construction has begun on IH Mississippi Credit Union, which will be located on an out lot near Merle Hay Road.

The announcements come as work is being completed on a new store for Kohl’s that will be located on the north end of the mall.

Merle Hay Mall, which opened in 1959 as an open-air shopping center, sits on the northwest corner of Merle Hay Road and Douglas Avenue. The mall is in the midst of a major redevelopment that includes the relocation of Kohl’s from the west side of the property to the northeast side.

Also planned is a 3,500-seat arena that is proposed to be located in a structure that once was home to Younkers department store. The arena is expected to be the new home of the Des Moines Buccaneers hockey team. Inflation and rising interest rates have slowed progress of redevelopment of former department store site.

Landing two national chains to the mall is a major feat, particularly during an economically challenging time.

Five Guys, which has 1,700 locations worldwide, will be located at the mall’s main entrance and face Merle Hay Road. The restaurant will offer indoor and outdoor dining.

“We’re very excited to have this iconic brand front and center, to welcome our customers,” Elizabeth Holland, the mall’s owner, said in a prepared statement. “The future arrivals of Kids Empire and [the credit union] will add to the vitality, synergy and functionality of Merle Hay Mall.”

Kids Empire has signed a lease for 18,000 square feet of space on the west side of the mall, next to the food court and future arena. Work is underway on the play center.

A building permit was issued in August for the credit union, which will be located at 3990 Merle Hay Road. Construction is expected to be completed by next summer.

The new 55,000-square-foot Kohl’s department store is expected to open later this fall.

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