Dubuque: West End businesses closing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque: West End businesses closing

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Dubuque (KWWL) -- The bad economy is to blame for the closing of several chains and franchises in one of Dubuque's largest shopping centers on the West End, Asbury Plaza.

Asbury Plaza is home to dozens of businesses -- big and small -- local and national, but sandwiched in between the big names are some big holes, and there's about to be another one. Office Depot will close about 100 stores, including Dubuque's.

"I came to work one day, and we got called into the office individually, and they told us we were out of a job as soon as we sell through everything," Cliff Morgan said.

Office Depot workers aren't alone. Milio's Sandwiches, Cici's Pizza, andHudson's restaurant have also closed recently. Hudson's closing was the second blow for Morgan, after finding out Office Depot would close.

"Ten days later, I was supposed to work the following weekend at my other job, and I get a call from someone who workded there that I was friends with, and they said, we closed the doors. It was done," Morgan said.

As for Cici's, company representatives say the Dubuque franchise owner faced economic troubles, but the company is actively looking for a new owner to reopen the store in the same location. Nationally, Cici's recently announced it plans to go through with adding more than 100 new locations.

Asbury Plaza's leasing company, Rubloff Development Group Inc. says the closures on the West End tell the story of what's happening across the country with economic conditions, and there are potential prospects for future retailers in the Plaza. 

"Even though we see some stores closed, we are continuing to work with other tenants that remain active and although we aren't in the position to announce any specific tenants at this point, there's still many, may retailers that continue to expand," Steven St. Peter of Rubloff said.

St. Peter, and other local economic experts, say the addition of new companies, like IBM, should bring enough income to the city to support new retailers.  Recent additions to Asbury Plaza include Maurices (a clothing store that was in Kennedy Mall) and Fiesta Cancun (a Mexican restaurant). 

Office Depot will close sometime in the next six weeks, and Morgan says he's trying to take this as an opportunity instead of a downfall.

"I'm going to wait for an opportunity. I'm not just going to take a job to have a job. I want something good," Morgan said.

Asbury Plaza currently has more than 250,000 square feet of unused retail space listed online. There are also another five lots listed on top of the square footage.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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