AKRON, Ohio — Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro organized a conference call with the mayors of Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge to discuss the future of Chapel Hill Mall.
Details of the call, which took place Monday afternoon, were not revealed, but in statement, Shapiro said it was a proactive step and she felt it was important to get on the phone with the mayors.
"I know the future of the mall is at the top of everyone's minds and I wanted to ensure that local leaders are all communicating effectively regarding potential outcomes," Shapiro said. "To say anything more about the privately-owned mall's future would be purely speculative."
Concern over the 52-year-old mall's future was heightened last week when tenants received electricity shut-off notices from First Energy. The electricity was scheduled to be turned off on April 8 because the bill hadn't been paid by the mall's out-of-town owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group.
However, the issue was resolved and the lights remain on at the 860-thousand-square-foot building.
J.C. Penney is the only remaining anchor store at Chapel Hill. Former Sears and Macy's stores have been boarded up.
Dick and Phyllis Haft of Stow come to mall a few times a week to walk laps, but rarely do any shopping.
"I don't think there's much future here, It's almost empty," Dick Haft said.
"It has been going downhill for quite a while and they've kept it nice and clean," Phyllis Haft said. "But most people are up here just to walk because there's no place to shop."
Michael Spalvieri of Akron said he still enjoys shopping at the mall and hopes it can be saved.
"We don't need a big, empty cavity sitting here doing nothing. It needs an idea," Spalvieri said.
However, the Haft family believes the site would be better served if the mall was torn down and turned into something like a park, entertainment district or housing.
"Anything is better than just an empty building that will deteriorate," Phyllis Haft said.
Akron's planning director, Jason Segedy, said upgrading, re-imagining or redeveloping the site ultimately depends on the commitment and creativity of the private owner.
"Chapel Hill Mall is zoned in a flexible manner that would provide for a wide variety of future land uses, including retail, residential and office," Segedy said. "Chapel Hill is in a prime location with good transportation access, and is both a regionally-significant job hub, and a federally-designated opportunity zone."
Kohan Investment Retail Group did not return calls from News 5 seeking comment on the future vision for the mall.