BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The new Main Event entertainment center in Brownsville has had the best soft launch in the company’s history.
That is the word from Jace Hinderland, a partner with Elm Creek Real Estate. Hinderland’s firm helped move Main Event into the Sears premises within Sunrise Mall, Brownsville, with a soft launch on July 1.
Plano, Texas-based Main Event Entertainment, LP, operates 50 family entertainment centers in 17 states throughout the United States.
“This Main Event has had the best soft opening in company history,” Hinderland said to huge applause at a recent Rio Grande Valley Partnership commercialization and investment tour. “And has shown some of the strongest initial sales they have ever experienced.”
The RGVP hosts commercialization and investment tours most months. This month’s event was held at the Main Event in Brownsville and was co-hosted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.
Dallas-based Elm Creek Real Estate was one of the sponsors of the event and Hinderland was one of the keynote speakers.
“It is great to see everybody today. It has been a crazy couple of years. I am going to be brief so we can get to more exciting things more quickly. But first a brief background about Main Event,” Hinderland said, in his introduction.
The retail specialist said he and a business partner describe their company as one that runs into burning buildings while everyone else is running out.
“So, a couple of years ago we started buying about two million square feet of vacant Sears department stores across the country, which included this box,” Hinderland explained.
“To say that people were confused would be an understatement. Vacant, large format retail attached to regional malls has not been the most popular recently.”
However, Hinderland said proudly, Elm Creek has not signed any non-retail leases on any of those projects across the country. “This project, more than any of those, exemplifies that,” he said.
Even more impressive, he said, is that converting the old Sears building to a Main Event center occurred during the coronavirus pandemic. He said a lot of praise needs to go to the City of Brownsville and GBIC for their help in making it happen. “We all persevered and this is the result,” Hinderland said. “This all despite sometimes politicized public health crises and massive supply chain disruptions. It truly took incredible coordination.”
Hinderland reiterated this point. “I want to take a moment to thank everyone at the city for making this possible. We truly could not have done this without you. So, please join me in giving another round of applause to the city. I hope all of you and your families have an opportunity to form successful memories within these four walls.”
Hinderland said he often gets asked, why Brownsville? His answer:
“I get asked that question a lot from other developers, sources of private and public equity, and lenders. A pretty simple answer. Across our four million square foot portfolio spanning over a dozen states, we have not had the pleasure of working with a city we enjoy more. Mayor Mendez and his staff have been, simply put, amazing.”
The collaboration with the Brownsville leadership has been so good, Hinderland said, that Elm Creek is planning to make further investments.
“I expect that Elm Creek will have over $100 million of additional equity invested in the next three to five years. We are very excited,” he said, to further applause from the audience.
“Now the best part,” Hinderland said, in his closing remarks. “I get to introduce the incomparable, Helen Ramirez.”
Helen Ramirez is executive director of GBIC and interim city manager of Brownsville.
Interviewed briefly after his remarks, Hinderland was asked why his company was sponsoring the RGVP/GBIC event. He responded:
“We built this center. We own the real estate. We bought the Sears department store as a vacant asset. And we worked with Main Event, which is Dallas-based, as we are, to bring them down here to Brownsville. It is the first one to come online since the pandemic. We were under construction during the pandemic. It is a little bit north of 53,000 square feet, which makes it one of the largest Main Event centers in the country.”
Asked how well the Main Event soft launch had gone, Hinderland said:
“It is fantastic. I have had the pleasure of seeing it blowing and going a few evenings when I have had the chance to visit Brownsville. It has had one of the best early performances in the Main Event chain ever, and certainly one of the best soft openings they have ever had. So, clearly, the community is incredibly excited about this.”
Hinderland was asked again, why Brownsville?
“It was half luck if I am being honest with you. We were buying large portfolios of vacant Sears assets across the country. Brownsville happened to be an opportunity. We are a Texas-based group. We got to know the City of Brownsville’s leadership. They were incredibly helpful in us getting this open. And it has been a great partnership since. This is the first project of many projects we will have down here.”
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