Nittany Mall exterior sign _ 2021

The exterior sign of Nittany Mall in State College, Pa., in September 2020. 

State College, Pa. -- The three vacant anchor stores at Nittany Mall in College Township, Centre County will be occupied soon. The new tenants will include an off-price discount store and a farm home department store.

Rural King, a farm home department store that sells agricultural and related supplies, is set to open at the former Sears on March 13. The Illinois-based retailer signed a lease for the 89,944-square foot space back in September 2019. Renovations began, but the opening of Rural King was delayed when the COVID-19 pandemic slowed progress. In January, Rural King's website advertised for open positions at the State College store. 

The mall also will be the site of a mini-casino. According to a local impact report on the College Township website, the mini-casino will move into the former Macy's store, which closed in March 2020. The Macy's parcel is currently 95,000 square feet, according to a map on the webpage of mall owner Namdar Leasing.

Zoning provisions were established for a gaming establishment in the area of Macy's in 2006. In 2017, the state passed a gaming law that allowed for 10 mini-casino sites. Though some municipalities opted out, College Township chose not to opt out since part of the mall grounds was already zoned for gaming.

Bally’s announced on Jan. 4 that they signed an agreement with Centre County investor Ira Lubert, a Penn State alumni, to put a mini-casino near the mall. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board had awarded Lubert the right to apply for a Category 4 slot machine license for a casino in Centre County, according to the Bally's press release. 

Construction will begin the second half of 2021 and will take one year to complete. Upon regulatory approval, the mini-casino will house 750 slot machines and 30 game tables. Estimated cost for the mini-casino is $120 million. 

The former Bon-Ton also will see a new tenant soon. Gabe's, an off-price discount store that sells clothing, shoes, accessories and home goods, will move in soon. The Gabe's website lists the mall, at 2901 E. College Avenue, as a new store location "coming soon."

An opening date has not been determined yet, according to Michael Czerepka, spokesman for Mason Asset Management Team, who oversees leasing for the Nittany Mall. "Gabe's will be renovating the former Bon Ton location to better suit their needs, so the timeline will be heavily dependent on that process," Czerepka said in an email. 

The former Bon-Ton had been a COVID-19 testing site in recent months, but testing staff there were reportedly told in January to vacate for a new tenant moving in. Prior to that, the 60,200-square foot parcel became vacant after Bon Ton closed its doors in April 2018 due to bankruptcy. 

Gabe's was founded in 1961 in Morgantown, West Virginia, according to the website. The company currently has 110 stores in Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Other locations in Pennsylvania include Altoona and Harrisburg. 

A fourth anchor, Dunham's Sports, has been at the mall at the former JC Penney department store since March 2016. It has been the mall's sole anchor store since Marcy's closed in March 2020. 

The interior section of Nittany Mall has seen several recent store closings, including Hot Topic in January, Dino's Pizza, Kay Jeweler, Victoria's Secret, Express, Rampage Room, and Kozee's Sports Emporium. Native Craft and Nittany Nails also recently left. Christopher & Banks, a women's specialty clothing retailer, shut their doors last month after the chain announced they filed for bankruptcy. Happy Wraps left the mall last year to move to a downtown Bellefonte location. 

Related Reading: Nittany Mall gaining one store, losing several