Summit Place Mall gets new owner, demolition deadline

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
The boarded-up Summit Place Mall, located on the border of Pontiac and Waterford Township, has been an ugly and costly headache for nearly a decade. That could change, following its purchase by Southfield-based Ari-El Enterprises Inc.

A Southfield-based real estate company has purchased the abandoned Summit Place Mall, which could be demolished by the end of 2020, according to township officials.

In a deal that could end a years-long conflict between Waterford Township and the dilapidated mall's former owner SD Capital LLC of California, Ari-El Enterprises Inc. last week closed its acquisition of the shopping center at Telegraph and Elizabeth Lake roads at the border between Pontiac and Waterford.

Ari-El's leadership was unavailable to speak on the purchase Monday, though office manager Karen Atkins confirmed the property's sale.

The new owner has until Sept. 25, 2019, to begin demolition on the mall, according to a demolition agreement that Waterford's board of trustees approved Sept. 4. The new owner must complete the teardown within a year. Wreck-It Demolition LLC of Florida estimated that it will cost $2.89 million to demolish the 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center.

"It's time for that blighted building to go away," Waterford Township Supervisor Gary Wall said. "With the right developers, the right money behind it, it's unlimited what you can do down there."

For years a popular destination for shoppers, the township condemned the 74-acre mall in December 2014 after strip malls, internet shopping and the nearby Great Lakes Crossing Outlets mall in Auburn Hills took their toll, leaving it deserted.

Wall said Ari-El is looking to use the property for mixed-use developments. In so doing, it would join the city of Southfield, which is in the process of tearing down Northland Center, once America's largest mall, to make space for mixed-used developments. Additionally, the city of Sterling Heights has created plans that could result in tearing down Lakeside Mall for entertainment, residential and retail buildings.

Summit Place, originally known as Pontiac Mall, opened in 1963 and once had some 200 tenants, including six anchor stores, a movie theater, restaurants, a food court and specialty businesses. By 2007, the mall was 60 percent vacant. It closed in September 2009 during the recession, leaving two anchor stores, Macy’s and J.C. Penney, which closed in 2010.

A Sears store, in a separate building on the property, shut in 2014. That could be the only building to remain standing, as DTE is looking to convert a portion of the former department store into a 50,000-square-foot regional storage facility.

SD Capital bought the shopping center years ago and in 2014 listed the property for $10 million.

In 2016, township-appointed dangerous buildings hearing officer Walter Pytiak ordered the demolition of the building, citing code violations and hazards. Those included a heavily damaged fire suppression system, exposed high-voltage units, standing water and leaks.

Although SD Capital had patched holes in the parking lot, fenced off dangerous areas and provided a clear access roadway, the township's board of trustees decided in October to move forward with razing the property. It requested the owner submit demolition plans, which SD Capital appealed to the Oakland County Circuit Court.

Ari-El came into the picture earlier this year, Wall said. The new and former owners and the city completed negotiations of the demolition agreement June 5.

"We're looking forward to the mall being demolished and moving onto the next phase, the redevelopment," Wall said. "We don't want to get too excited, but we're ready to amp up our progress with it."