The former Summit Park Mall in the Town of Wheatfield may get another shot at revival.
An Ontario-based residential real estate developer, BGS Homes, is working on a deal to acquire the largely vacant mall. The possible sale raises hope for renewal at a property that has struggled for years to find a new direction.
James Anthony Jr., managing member of mall owner Oberlin Plaza One, called it a “pending deal” that he hopes will close within 60 days, but he stressed it was not complete.
“We have been working with this buyer for over a year,” Anthony said. “They have been sort of investigating this property for its potential for redevelopment and have concluded that they think it’s got potential.” He declined to reveal the proposed purchase price.
Ray Prajapati, BGS Homes’ controller, declined to comment, saying nothing has been finalized. BGS is based in Vaughan, Ont., outside Toronto.
“I think it can be successful again,” said Gunner Tronolone of M.J. Peterson Real Estate, which acted as the property’s receiver several years ago. “It’s just a matter of turning around that image and persuading tenants to come in.”
The Summit Park Mall was built in 1972 and was once a thriving retail destination in the region. But it has endured a loss of tenants, ownership changes and failed plans for revival. Sears, Bon-Ton and Save-A-Lot – each of which has an exterior entrance – continue to operate at the mall, but the interior of the property has been closed since 2009.
Anthony said the death blow to the Summit came in 2008, with the closing of Steve & Barry’s, a low-cost fashion store. “When they closed the store and liquidated the company, we could no longer survive without that rent.”
Prior to Steve & Barry’s failure, Oberlin had poured millions of dollars into upgrading the mall and was working to refill the property with “nontraditional” tenants such as a call center and a state office. But losing Steve & Barry’s was too much to overcome financially, he said.
Anthony said he believes BGS can be successful at the Summit if it becomes the owner. “There’s no question there is a market there. It’s just not a market for 800,000 square feet of single-story shops and anchor stores.”
Anthony said BGS has two advantages: more capital and “their relationship with Toronto-based tenants and consumers.”
Wheatfield Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe said he welcomed the prospect of a Summit revival. “I would certainly be happy to see that vibrant again,” he said.
A rejuvenated mall would benefit not only the town, but to the entire county, by creating more jobs and sales tax revenue that would be shared, he said.