ALLIANCE, Ohio — What once was bustling a mall in Stark County could meet a wrecking ball within months— even weeks— to make way for a new Meijer store.
Carnation City Mall, which opened in 1983, is now owned by Fairmount Properties. Mayor Alan Andreani said the more than 300-thousand-square-foot property was purchased for $5 million.
Andreani and Alliance Area Development President Rick Baxter said redevelopment will include the Meijer store with a gas station and convenience store along with other retail which hasn't been announced yet.
"We're excited. As a child growing up here, it's sad to see kind of out with the old, but in with the new is exciting, so all that in mind, we're excited to see progress," Baxter said.
Dunham's Sports is expected to move into the former J.C. Penney store. Cinemark Carnation 5 will close after playing its final movies on August 28.
A few other businesses will have to relocate, including Salon One 83, which has been inside the mall for five years.
"We're sad about it. We had a great five years here," said Ariana Bugara whose mother owns the salon.
Bugara said the handwriting was on the wall with hardly any other shops operating in the mall, so the salon began searching for and secured a new location about a mile away on State Street near Dairy Queen.
"We really are going to miss it. We liked being here, but for how it's going nowadays, it's gonna be I think better for us to be in our new location. It's really nice," she said.
The mayor remembers when the mall was built, but it has been clear for several years that the property was in a downward trend. Some of the building is in disrepair and residents frequently complain about large potholes in the parking lot.
"You're always saddened to see something that was so popular and so heavily used in the bygone era, all of a sudden kind of waste away," Andreani said.
The mayor said finding a new owner was a work-in-progress for six years, and Fairmount Properties will benefit from a 30-year tax incremental financing (TIF) program.
"Instead of paying the property taxes, then they pay a service fee in the same amount as the taxes that then go into the development," he said.
Demolition of the mall could start as early as September, with the construction of the Meijer store beginning in early 2023, city officials said.
Baxter, who grew up in Alliance and has fond memories of playing games as a kid in the crowded arcade, said the new chapter for the property is bittersweet.
"This mall obviously has gone at a downward trend, but we're excited about new development coming with Meijer and then new retailers potentially coming in as well."
Randy Ruttenberg with Fairmount Properties provided this statement to News 5:
We are delighted to have officially closed on the Carnation Mall in Alliance. Our experience working with the city has been very positive and we look forward to a groundbreaking within the next week. We also had the opportunity to continue to grow our relationship with Meijer who will anchor this redevelopment. Fairmount Properties is entering its 25th year in business and we’ve had the good fortune of working with several hundred retailers within our portfolio. Meijer is absolutely first among equals and not only a terrific merchant, but a company who lives and breathes an uncompromising value system that also makes them just really good people who are good to do business with. In addition to Meijer, this redevelopment will include a newly renovated Dunhams Sporting goods store and several new to market retail and restaurant users. We continue to have conversations about our few remaining spaces and look forward to becoming a member of the greater Alliance community.