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Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater to get $12 million remodel

Westfield Countryside in North Pinellas is getting a $12 million makeover. It’s the third facelift in the 34-year-old mall’s history.

Westfield Countryside

Westfield Countryside in North Pinellas is getting a $12 million makeover. It’s the third facelift in the 34-year-old mall’s history.

The Australian owners of Westfield Countryside in two weeks begin a $12 million overhaul of the North Pinellas regional mall.

"By the time it's done in November, this will look and feel much like a brand new mall," said Tara Martin, Westfield regional marketing director.

It's the first makeover in 20 years and third ever for 34-year-old Countryside.

Work includes new white, polished porcelain and carpeted floors, more skylights and new energy-efficient lighting. The food court and kids' play area will be redone and expanded. That includes a new ocean and environmental education theme of soft sculpture characters for the popular play area.

All three banks of escalators will be replaced and two of them relocated closer to the Sears and JCPenney entrances in corners now occupied by stores. Dozens of fake columns and planter-bedecked barriers that clutter the main walkways will be yanked out to create a cleaner, open look.

The upgrade also changes the design standards for storefronts as retailers' leases come up for renewal. The new look — seen already at Coach and Coldwater Creek — features far taller glass storefronts that offer more display space. Storefronts also are nudged back several feet to make the aisles wider.

When it's done, Westfield will have poured $100 million into remodeling five malls, including Brandon and Citrus Park, acquired seven years ago on Florida's west coast.

• • •

Two 1990s-era top executives at Kash n' Karry — since relaunched as Sweetbay Supermarket — have been in the news lately.

Ronald E. Johnson, who spruced up Kash n' Karry enough to sell it to current Belgian owner Delhaize Group in 1993, was ordered to pay $2.3 million to his latest employer, Minyard's Supermarkets in Copell, Texas, for "looting" the company.

In one of those boomerang lawsuits, Johnson had sued Minyard's owners for not paying him $600,000 in bonuses tied to the sale of company real estate. Instead, the jury sided with the owners' counterclaim that in two years as chief executive officer, Johnson ran up 17 code of ethics violations. That included taking $1 million in kickbacks from suppliers, shaking down vendors for NBA playoff tickets and hiring pals for special projects. Johnson, who defended himself during the later stages of the trial after his lawyer's tab hit $650,000, promises an appeal.

Meantime, Mike Byars, whom Delhaize installed as chief operating officer in Tampa to clean up after Johnson in 1993, last month took over as president of the 215-store Bi-Lo grocery chain in South Carolina. Capping his first month at the helm, Byars steered Bi-Lo into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Spartanburg, S.C.

• • •

Hard to believe, but ad agencies actually got paid big bucks to dream up these new tag lines for today's tough economic times.

Wal-Mart: Save Money. Live Better.

Target: Expect More. Pay Less.

Sears: Life. Well. Spent.

Home Depot: More saving. More doing.

A Lowry Park Zoo billboard: More friends. Less Money.

Note to copywriters: More cliches. Less meaning.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater to get $12 million remodel 03/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 7:12am]

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