Waterford eager to get update on Summit Place Mall plan

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Waterford Township – — The future, if any, for the long-shuttered Summit Place Mall could be decided this month after nearly two years of delays in addressing building code violations and public safety hazards.

A closed meeting between township officials and the current and possibly future owners of the mall must take before Sept. 22, Waterford Township Supervisor Gary Wall said Friday.

“There have been some concerns about the property and we have been assured they are being addressed while the current owners are also negotiating with a prospective buyer,” Wall said. “We don’t want to stand in the way of any sale, but we also need to meet with them to learn what plans there are for the mall.”

Wall said he has not been told about plans for the mall.

A spokesperson for the mall’s owner, S.D. Capital of California, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The 1.3 million-square foot shopping center at Telegraph and Elizabeth Lake roads was condemned in December 2014. Inspections by the Waterford Township police, fire and the building departments found a litany of concerns ranging from broken doors and windows to exposed electrical wiring and open manhole covers.

Owners have been given several extensions to correct violations, Wall said, and safety hazards were to be corrected by Friday. He said the owners have patched holes in the parking lot, fenced off dangerous areas and provided a clear access roadway for the fire department and other vehicles around the building.

Wall and others have said they believe the mall is unsafe and can’t be rehabilitated. At a public meeting earlier this year, he said “we are fortunate we haven’t taken a dead person of out the building ... it’s dangerous.”

Township Trustee Anthony Bartolotta, who owns a car wash across the street from the mall, said officials and residents have been more than patient and “enough is enough.”

Bartolotta said no one knows whom the perspective buyer is, or if there is one.

“We keep hearing from the owners that there is some deal in the works,” he said. “But my concern is it’s just another delay and that whomever owns it are just going to walk away from the property and we are going to be left with a white elephant.”

“We don’t want to harm any deal, but we want safety here. I’ve looked at it for years and know we have lost business in our township because of it. People are afraid to come to this side of town.”

The mall opened in 1963 and once boasted 200 tenants and six anchor stores — including several major department stores — a movie theater, restaurants, a food court and specialty businesses.

But time, smaller strip malls and shopping trends took a toll and it closed in September 2009, leaving only two anchor stores, Macy’s and J.C. Penney, which shut down in 2010. A Sears store, in a separate building on the property, closed in 2014.

Cost of demolition is pegged at more than $4.1 million, a fraction of what city engineers estimated it would cost to rehab the current mold-infested mall, which has a land market value of $3.7 million.

“We don’t have the money to demolish it,” Wall said. “We are hoping there is someone who has some plans to use the property.”

The seven-member township board, which voted unanimously Aug. 22 to endorse a demolition order, is scheduled to discuss the mall’s status at its Sept. 26 meeting where Wall is scheduled to discuss the confidential meeting.