Southern Park, Eastwood Mall Close to Limit Coronavirus Spread

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Washington Prime Group Inc. and Cafaro Co. announced Monday that they temporary close Southern Park Mall and Eastwood Mall as part of its efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus.

The bulk of the retail outlets at the malls are closed following the state of Ohio’s stay at home order issued Sunday to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday. 

It required that shopping malls, including the Eastwood Mall, to cease operations temporarily, said Joe Bell, director of corporate communication. However, the order contains exceptions for businesses engaged in necessary functions, such as grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, financial institutions, pharmacies, hotels, providers of medical service and supplies, suppliers for business operations and animal supply stores. 

The full order, including the list of businesses that can remain open, can be read here.

The closure of Southern Park Mall takes effect today and will end March 29 or at a date in compliance with applicable federal, local or state mandates, according to a statement from Washington Prime Group. 

Exceptions for enclosed centers include exterior facing restaurants with carryout and/or delivery services, and other tenants with exterior facing entrances which may remain open offering essential goods and services to the extent permitted by law. The company anticipates a portion of its open-air centers, which represent approximately 40% of total net operating income, to remain open to continue operating.

Other Ohio enclosed assets affected by Washington Prime’s announcement include Dayton Mall, Great Lakes Mall, Indian Mound Mall, Lima Mall, New Towne Mall, Polaris Fashion Place and The Mall at Fairfield Commons. In all, properties in 19 states will be closed temporarily.

In addition, the company has offered the use of its open air and enclosed assets to serve as potential distribution centers for emergency medical supplies, outdoor designated areas to perform COVID-19 testing, food depository stations and other complementary services that may be required by communities in need. 

“We are all dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on a real time basis and it is imperative Corporate America diligently work with their public counterparts to quell this crisis,” said Lou Conforti, Washington Prime’s CEO and director, in a letter distributed by general managers to local, state and federal agencies working to contain the pandemic. “We certainly don’t have all of the answers albeit what I do know is my colleagues and I refuse to sit on our behinds and not offer our help”

Washington Prime operates more than 100 sites “and shame on us if ‘serve’ is exclusively defined as the sale of a good or service. We characterize our assets as town centers and especially in a time of need this sure as heck transcends footwear, cosmetics or a lamp,” Conforti said.

Examples of how assets are being used include: 

  • Providing space for the storage, staging or distribution of emergency medical supplies and/or services.
  • Partnering with local public school districts to provide space for the distribution of free breakfast and lunch to children eighteen and under.
  • Working in conjunction with restaurant tenants to offer meals to health care workers and first responders in the coming days.
  • Providing sites for blood drives to support the need for blood donations from healthy individuals during this critical time.
  • Serving as drop off locations in conjunction with local nonprofit organizations collecting essential items for their communities.
  • Supporting restaurant tenants offering carryout and/or delivery services by providing social media support and community engagement.

At the Eastwood Mall Complex, Cafaro Co. has been proactive in its safety procedures, says spokesman Joe Bell.

“It’s a burden. We know that the public health concerns are out there but we have been proactive on a lot of safety procedures to minimize contact,” he says.

Target, which offers groceries, paper products and other essentials and has an in-store pharmacy, is the only retailer attached to the main mall building that remains open. 

Other businesses open at the Eastwood Mall Complex include Best Buy – which is offering curbside service and is not permitting customers inside – Bloomberg Eyecare, Home Depot, Pet Supplies Plus, Residence Inn by Marriott and Save-a-Lot.

Chase Bank, Home Savings Bank and Huntington Bank are open are only offering service via drive-thru windows and ATMs. In-office services are available on an appointment-only basis.   

Restaurants are permitted to continue operating during the coronavirus outbreak on a strictly carry-out, curbside pickup or delivery basis. Restaurants still operating that offer walk-up service, phone-in orders, ordering apps or delivery options include:

  • Applebee’s
  • Bob Evans
  • Chipotle
  • DQ Grill & Chill
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Hot Head Burritos
  • McDonald’s
  • Mizu
  • O’Charley’s
  • Olive Garden
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Panera Bread
  • Primanti Bros.
  • Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar.
  • Red Lobster
  • Rise Pies
  • Steak ’n Shake
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Wendy’s

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.