Battle Creek city leaders develop new plans to re-vitalize Lakeview Square Mall
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. —
Sears announced Thursday it would be closing its store at the Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek and city leaders are developing plans to bring life to the space.
City leaders admit the loss of Sears is a problem, but they are not giving up hope and have a unique plan they think will help Lakeview Square Mall grow.
"Growing up it used to be a lot better, but now I've noticed a lot of the stores are closing and moving so its kind of sad," said Patricia Hobbs, who has routinely visited Lakeview Square.
In a time when online shopping is at our fingertips, making a trip to the mall doesn't always happen, forcing some of the big companies out. At Lakeview Square, it was Macy's, JC Penney and now Sears.
"Obviously we are very disappointed to see Sears depart the mall. It's been a long time anchor there," said Battle Creek Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing.
Dearing knows the score and has been working on a plan to change Lakeview Square. To keep it viable, he thinks there needs to be more specialty mom-and-pop shops that you can see from the outside. He also thinks the mall needs to open itself up to more non traditional uses.
"That's some of what we've been working on with the mall. We brought them a skate park that we thought was a good fit there. It seems to have worked out really well but it isn't a traditional retail use," Dearing said.
Dearing said the city is working to bring a hotel to the mall, but some hurdles need to be addressed.
"Obviously some of the zoning and regulations that surrounds the mall, we can be flexible with what kind of uses go out there, which is one of the biggest ways we can help," Dearing said.
Dearing said, despite the challenges, it is worth investing in the mall.
"I do think it's a key driver for commerce out in that part of the city, so we wouldn't want to see it go away," he said.
City leaders say they have a close working relationship with the owners of the mall, GK Development.
Newschannel 3 reached out to them to find out more about future plans for the Lakeview Square Mall, but have not heard back.