Northland Center mall closing, many wondering what now

Northland Center mall is officially closing.

On Wednesday am Oakland County Circuit Court Judge approved a plan to shut it down, saying the once prominent shopping center can't be saved.

Notices were sent to the mall's almost 100 tenants that they have 30 days to vacate - but the city of Southfield promises to help save some of the businesses and the jobs.

The mall opened to much fanfare in 1954, but in recent years fell into disrepair. 

Many shoppers were sad to hear the news. 

"It's an old mall, our first mall so it's kind of sad to see it go," said Jennifer Washington.

While shoppers dealt with disappointment, shop owners were understandably upset.

"I'm really shocked, I thought that something could be worked out but obviously it couldn't," said Irene Harwick Green. "I'm not worried about myself - I'm worried about my employees. All the employees at Northland. What will they do?

It's the question many are asking after Judge Wendy Potts reluctantly agreed that Northland should close.

"The court grants the motion and will allow the receiver to begin the process of closing Northland mall," Potts said.

The mall is in receivership and the receiver asked the court to close the mall due to its dire financial and physical condition.

The mall has a debt load of more than $30 million dollars and is losing nearly $250,000 a month.

Target is gone and Macy's is closing. Now nearly 100 businesses here will be too.

"I'm really sad because I work for H&R Block at Northland Mall," said Gabrielle Hawkins. "It's a fun job. I love what I do here and we have a lot of clients and customers that really depend on our location."

"We come here all the time," said Kanisha Brown. "It's the closest mall to where we stay."

From those shopping to those out for a stroll, many are feeling sentimental about the mall.

"This is an historic mall," said John Brown. "It's been here for a long, long time - and now they want to close it? I can't believe that."

Neither can Michael Radner, brother of legendary Detroit comedian Gilda Radner. He walks there everyday and remembers coming to the mall with his mom.

"When this place opened up it was 1954 or so and I was 13," he said. "And this was the place. This was one of the first major shopping centers if not the first in the whole country.  This was the mall.

"I'm really curious what will happen here. But it's a sad thing."  

What happens next is one of the questions everyone is asking. 

There is 1.2 million square feet of retail space. The city would like to see redevelopment here, but by the end of April the mall will be shuttered.

Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi says that he does not feel any effort was made to save the mall, which fell into disrepair while the anchor stores fled.
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