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Southern Park Owner Shows ‘Preliminary’ Renovation Plans

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Preliminary plans for redevelopment of Southern Park Mall call for replacing the space formerly occupied by Sears and its adjacent auto center with greenspace to host community events and activities year-round, representatives of Washington Prime Group said Wednesday.

Sears, which has closed all of its department stores in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys, shuttered its Southern Park Mall store last year. In April 2018, Washington Prime announced its intention to redevelop the Sears space.

A rendering provided by Columbus-based Washington Prime Group depicts the “conceptual redevelopment plan” for the mall, said Matt Jurkowitz, vice president of development. 

“Planning is preliminary and evolving,” he said. 

The rendering, a company statement emphasized, is for “illustrative purposes only” and doesn’t indicate “the final redevelopment project.”  

The mall was developed by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. and opened in 1970. In 1996 the DeBartolo Corp. merged with Simon Property Group. In 2014, the mall became part of Washington Prime Group, a Simon spinoff. 

No timeline has been set for making a formal presentation to township trustees or applying for permits, said Kimberly Green, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications, in an email.  

“The proposed plan incorporates uses that are missing from Southern Park today, including a place to ‘hang,’ outdoor green space for community events, concerts and sporting activities, and space earmarked for unique, first-to-market dining and entertainment uses – all with a focus on connecting outdoor and indoor space,” said Lauren Kelly, vice president of leasing.  

“Dynamic outdoor events will drive foot traffic and further position Southern Park Mall as Boardman’s town center,” Jurkowitz added. 

Plans include the repositioning of existing space – now obscured by the former Sears – “into exterior facing retail, dining and entertainment uses that would overlook the proposed green space and benefit from their adjacency to the recently renovated Cinemark Theaters,” he continued.

The proposal has been “thoughtfully put together” following discussions with Boardman trustees and the community, surrounding communities and the mall’s existing tenants, Kelly said.

Although development of the plan is ongoing, Boardman Township trustees are looking forward to what company representatives are talking about doing at the property, said trustee Larry Moliterno.

“We’ve been having conversations with Washington Prime for quite a while now,” he said. “They continue to show their commitment to the Southern Park Mall and they continue to work very closely with the trustees to make sure that this project is going to be something that this community is very proud of.”

A call from a Business Journal reporter was the first notification about the proposed revamping of the mall for Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., Niles. In February, a Cafaro-affiliated entity purchased the building which housed the former Dillard’s department store at Southern Park Mall. 

Bell said Cafaro representatives haven’t been involved with the discussions regarding the mall redevelopment plan and the company is still looking at options for the building it purchased. 

There is “no tremendous rush” to get something in the space before this year’s holiday shopping season, Bell said.  

“Any time a department store-size space comes empty it typically takes many months, sometimes a couple years, before you get a firm commitment from new tenants. We’re not going to rush it,” he continued. “We’re going to make sure we do it thoroughly and we’ll just see how things unfold.” 

Pictured: A preliminary rendering of possible greenspace at the Boardman mall.

Related Coverage

April 6, 2018: Southern Park Mall to Redevelop Sears Space

Feb. 15, 2019: Cafaro Entity Buys Dillard’s Building for $8.92M

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.