LIMA — The owners of the American Mall have a new demolition schedule for the empty building.
Heavy demolition will begin Dec. 2, Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell said Wednesday. Cafaro expects the site will be clear and fully prepared for redevelopment by March.
The 520,000-square foot space has sat empty for years. Demolition was supposed to start in September, but it was delayed when the company and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had a disagreement about the procedure for asbestos abatement, Bell said. The EPA requested that Cafaro’s contractor significantly change its procedure for removing the asbestos, but the issue has now been resolved, Bell said.
Earlier this spring, Cafaro stripped the property of anything of value, including wiring and steel, and started demolition of the building. Crews have also been taking out landscaping, light poles and ancillary pieces of the building and property.
Cafaro still intends to redevelop the site with a mixed use plan of retail, professional and office space. The company remains committed to owning the property and developing it, Bell said. A sign on the Market Street side of the property says “property available,” but that is referring to property and space for lease only, Bell said.
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.
Through the 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 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.