ELYRIA, Ohio -- Midway Mall, with its 1.1 million square feet of enclosed space, is still looking for a buyer.
Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda said negotiations are under way `right now` to sell the property.
The mall has been a major economic driver for the county since it opened in 1965, Brinda said. And recent upgrades to local highways leading to the mall that were completed in November have helped, she said.
`The restructuring of Ohio 57 and the elimination of the 49th Street Bridge freed up 140 acres of new land for development, which is spread out between Interstate 90 and the Ohio Turnpike,` said Brinda.
See a timeline of Midway Mall over the years that accompanies this story.
Consultants Jeff Green Partners and the Hoffman Group of Phoenix, Arizona, were hired last year by the City of Elyria to study the mall and come up with ways to save it. Chase Bank owns the mall. The asking price has not been disclosed.
In their study of the mall, the consultants said the best way to save it is to knock down most of the 92-acre site and turn it into a more modern, mixed-use shopping center with stores, restaurants and a condominium or apartment complex. If the city doesn`t do anything, the mall will continue to lose money, the consultants say.
The study said the mall is too big.
`It should be about 530,000 square feet,` said consulting partner Jerry Hoffman. `Since the loss of Dillard`s and Macy`s, there is a lot of vacant space. Also, Sears is closing its second floor, meaning even more open space.`
Of the more than 100 stores in the mall and on the grounds, about 30 spaces are vacant, mostly in the areas near the now-closed anchor stores, Macy`s and Dillard`s.
Anchors J.C. Penney and Best Buy at still at the mall. Economic conditions at Midway and other malls across the country have changed dramatically because the more convenient shopping centers and increase in Internet shopping.
But Brinda said Midway Mall`s location off Ohio 57 between Interstate 90 and the Ohio Turnpike is still ideal for attracting customers.
The consultants say with the right mix of businesses, a reconfigured shopping center would be a success. Luring businesses like T.J. Maxx, an Alamo Draft House, an eBay distribution warehouse as well as medical offices would be crucial. Brinda said perhaps the center also could lure nearby businesses like PetsMart or Marc`s.
`Consultants determined if their formula is followed, a new shopping center could generate $100 million a year in new sales,` said Brinda. `That`s a big selling point.`
The consultants` recommended:
Tearing down the mall except for the J.C. Penney building and turn the remaining part into a shopping center
Attracting more, high-profile stores, more restaurants and entertainment and recreational businesses
Building an upscale condominium or apartment complex on the site that could include about 240 units and building offices for financial, medical and professional firms
Stamford properties of Beachwood owns a strip of land on Midway Boulevard on the northern border of the mall parking lot. Stamford spokesman Dave Bruening said construction of new buildings along the boulevard could begin as soon as this spring.
Neither the mall`s local management or corporate managers, The Woodmont Company of Dallas, Texas, returned repeated telephone calls for this story. However, the mayor said things are moving along and the city would provide tax incentives to help the new owners.
`Stores, restaurants and entertainment would bring people into the area, which means a healthy economy of the city,` said Brinda. `The study determined that $892 million in sales leave the county every year and is spent at other malls and stores in places like Crocker Park and the Great Northern Mall. We want to keep that money here.`