Last updated: August 25. 2013 7:19AM - 190 Views

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AMERICAN TOWNSHIP — The vacant and crumbling American Mall will remain just that for the foreseeable future.Almost two years after the last store closed, the American Mall remains an empty and increasingly dilapidated shell. And company officials have no real plans to change that in the immediate future.“I'd like to be able to tell you something interesting, but there really has not been a lot of movement on the property in the last eight or 10 months,” said Joe Bell, spokesman for Cafaro Co., the company that owns the Elm Street mall. The Andersons was the last tenant of the once-popular mall. That store left town in 2009. Since then,the building has sat empty.Over the past seven years, Cafaro officials have publicly 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 early last year 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.Now, they aren't sure what they'll do.“Through the recession, there were plans that came and went,” Bell said. “We've kind of put that on the back burner and got involved in redevelopment of other properties.”In the meantime, the property is beginning to show its age. Paint and wood are peeling off the exterior, weeds and tall grass grow up through the broken asphalt, and broken bottles and trash carpet the concrete entries. Bell said the company does not have a local property manager, but its operations department sends people out regularly to make sure it is being kept up.American Township zoning inspector Brad Settlage said the township has been keeping an eye on the property and doing what they can to keep it looking good.“We have had some concerns about it. We try to keep the right-of-way mowed, but as far as I can say, we've seen no plans whatsoever for rebuilding projects or demolition permits,” Settlage said.Bell remains hopeful a turn in the economy will give Cafaro an opening to do something with the space. Until then, the old ideas are still out there.“We're hoping by the end of the year we can do another analysis of the space and see what works best,” Bell said. “We still think the best use would involve a mixed-use type of development, but I can't say when that's going to happen.”

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