BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – A meeting was held Monday night about the future of the Southern Park Mall.
Leaders of the company that owns the mall — Washington Prime Group — talked with the Boardman Civic Association about renovation plans for projects like the DeBartolo Commons, indoor golfing and Steel Valley Brew Works.
Steel Valley Brew will be operated Joshua Langenheim, owner of the area’s Stone Fruit Coffee locations.
Along with craft beer, it will also offer specialty coffees, bocce, billiards and other games.
Steel Valley Brew will open sometime next summer in the area once occupied by Sears, where demolition continues.
“Half the Sears is down, the other half is coming down, so watch out,” said John Geletka.
Geletka was one of three Washington Prime Group representatives who spoke at Monday’s Boardman Civic Association meeting.
They showed pictures of what will become the DeBartolo Commons, a four-acre area of green space with soccer fields and a concert area.
“It is not lip service when I tell you that it is a meaningful thing for us to have that legacy as part of our project,” said Matt Jurkowitz, another Washington Prime Group representative.
Outside the area where Steel Valley Brew will go, there will be fire pits along with splash pads in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
The business model of malls is changing.
“It used to be you could just turn on the lights and open the doors and people are going to come in your mall and shop, and it’s not that way anymore. We’ve got to retool, we’ve got to reinvent ourselves,” said Brian Gabbert, manager of the Southern Park Mall.
For the past two years, Southern Park has had Washington Prime’s second-largest capital budget.
There’s a new roof and new heating and cooling units. The entrance to the food court will be redone along with new carpeting and lighting inside.
“We can’t afford to let this thing not be successful. So it’s self-interest but it’s an easy thing for us to put money down into because we believe in the asset. We believe in this market,” Jurkowitz said.
The representatives also thanked the people in the community who have helped, including Boardman Township officials.
“That community effort makes this job of lifting what is a pretty heavy stone possible. It makes me want to spend more of my time in this community making sure this thing’s done correctly,” Jurkowitz said.
Washington Prime Group plans to unveil more changes and ideas — along with more details about indoor golfing — for the mall space by the end of the year.