LIMA — In its day, it was part of a retail revolution: the enclosed shopping mall. Today, long vacant, it’s being demolished.
American Mall’s owner, The Cafaro Co., has stripped the property of anything of value, including wiring and steel, and is beginning demolition of the building. The structure between Elm and Market streets will be down by the fall, company spokesman Joe Bell said.
Cafaro intends to redevelop the site with a mixed use plan of retail, professional and office space, Bell said. That timeline to rebuild is less certain and dependent on the economy and needs of commercial tenants, he said.
“While the plans have changed from time to time, the goal has remained the same: to get in a position where we can redevelop the property for mixed use,” Bell said. “We want to develop something useful for the community and for commercial tenants. It will be a clean site by the fall.”
Crews are removing hazardous material from the building before the actual demolition can occur. Passers-by will notice material, such as roofing, already gone from some spots, an orange wind fence up and a large hose bringing water into the building to help with the hazardous materials removal.
Cafaro built its first shopping center in 1949. Built in 1965, American Mall was the company’s first enclosed mall and also among the first enclosed malls built in Ohio. At one point, it was anchored by Bailey’s Department Store and Montgomery Ward.
Through the 2000s, the mall saw a steady decline. The Andersons was the final tenant of the once-popular mall. That store closed in 2009. Over the years, Cafaro officials publicly have discussed a variety of plans for the space, from turning it into a lifestyle center similar to Easton Town Center in Columbus to tearing down the building to make room for offices. The most recent plan came several years ago when a Columbus-based developer and local physician announced plans for a 20,000-square-foot medical office building on the site. The idea fell through when the developers were unable to finance the project.
The Cafaro Co., headquartered in Youngstown, owns malls in Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina, Washington and West Virginia. The company’s portfolio encompasses more than 50 projects totaling more than 30 million square feet of space.