Businesses leaving mall for downtown after rent increase

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Pretzelmaker has been at the Mesa Mall for more than 15 years, but the store is relocating to Main Street next month after negotiations with the the Simon Malls Corporation went sour.

"It's really sad we feel like we had a good customer relationship with a lot of employees at the mall and a lot of the patrons at the mesa mall," says Danielle Behrens of Pretzelmaker.

Behrens said when it was time to renew their lease in the beginning of the year Simon Malls proposed a 30% increase in rent. The snack shop said they already paid $6,000 a month for rent and other fees and the increase wasn't feasible.

The new location downtown is 1/3 of the price and more than three times the size, and it isn't the only new business coming to the neighborhood.

Right across the street is Culinary Corner, a staple at the Mesa Mall for three decades that also had to face a harsh reality after realizing they would be paying five times more at the mall than downtown.

"We just couldn't renegotiate anything that was satisfactory to us and that's the reason why we left," Beth Zanski, Culinary Corner.

Zanski said she feels big corporations are weeding out the mom-and-pop stores that are unique to the Grand Valley and making deals with chains to benefit the many malls they own around the country.

We reached out to Simon Malls about the situation. Officials there said they don't comment on leases. They told us in an email these matters are personal between the landlord and tenant.

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