Architectural renderings submitted to Anchorage municipal officials show that REI Co-op is moving into the Mall at Sears, though representatives for the mall and the outdoor-gear retailer declined to confirm the move, saying no lease has been signed.
The details, revealing floor plans, parking areas and landscaping, plus the distinctive REI logo on the façade, were submitted by architectural firm ECI in May, city officials said.
The work associated with the plans, such as demolition in the former Carrs Safeway grocery store, has already begun, said Melissa Davidson, a plan reviewer with the city's Community Development department.
The old grocery store occupied about 46,000 square feet, and an expansion will add close to 8,000 feet, Davidson said.
It has long been rumored that REI would leave its space at the Northern Lights Center mall for the larger space at the Mall at Sears.
Officials with the Mall at Sears and REI said as far as they knew, no lease had been signed that would lead to REI's occupying the site.
"We haven't signed any lease for a new location at this point and time, so that's why we haven't announced plans," said Mike Herzog, manager at Anchorage REI. "We've got nothing to add at this point."
ECI's submitted plans, called the Sears Mall Renewal, were previously reported by KTVA. The plans show the location of fitting rooms, a large retail floor space, a bike shop, and other details.
ECI has so far received permits from the city for the demolition and for foundation work associated with the expansion.
Glacier Sign and Lighting of Anchorage received a commercial building permit, on June 7. The lighting company's paperwork depicts a large sign on a revamped building's exterior, including the phrase, "REI CO-OP SINCE 1938." An overhead drawing shows REI occupying about one-third of the Mall at Sears.
John Todd, an owner of Glacier Sign, said Friday he could not comment.
Davidson told a reporter that photos of the renderings aren't allowed. The information is proprietary to the designers, though the plans can be reviewed in person.
It's possible the plans could change and that REI ultimately does not move into the space, said Gretchen Stuller, permit management supervisor with Community Development.
Linda Boggs, marketing director at the mall, said that as far as she knows, no lease has been signed with REI.
Representatives for the retailer have talked to the mall about the old Carrs facility, but have also looked at other retail space in Anchorage, too, she said.
"REI hasn't said anything official and we haven't said anything official," Boggs said.