Offices, dining, hotel could be next for Summit Place Mall

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Summit Place Mall's new owner said its vision for redevelopment includes a business park, casual dining and possibly a hotel.

Summit Place Mall's new owner said Tuesday that its vision for the Oakland County site's redevelopment includes a business park, casual dining and possibly a hotel.

Ari-El Enterprises Inc., a real-estate investment company based in Southfield, last week acquired the abandoned Waterford Township shopping center from SD Capital LLC for an undisclosed amount. Vacant and condemned since December 2014, the 1.4 million-square-foot mall's demolition could bring new activity to the once-major tax-base contributor in the township, Waterford Supervisor Gary Wall said.

A business park would serve various companies looking to locate in the center of Oakland County.

Ari-El Enterprises is planning on requesting local, state and federal incentives for the projects. Of particular interest is the creation of an "Opportunity Zone," a federal tax provision created last year that could help pay for the development. Projects in these zones receive profits from the sale of investments such as real estate and stock, which are then reinvested into low-income neighborhoods.

Ari-El became interested in the shopping mall at Telegraph and Elizabeth Lake roads at the border between Pontiac and Waterford when it acquired the 220,000-square-foot building previously occupied by Sears at the site.

Lisa Bolla, a senior communications specialist with DTE Energy Co., said the Detroit-based utility plans to demolish the former Sears store and build a new 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot service and storage center on that property to replace an older facility in Pontiac in a multi-million dollar investment. The company is in the final stages of getting approval from the city for the building. DTE hopes to break ground in 2019. The service center would employ more than 200 design, engineering, administrative, vehicle maintenance and service employees from Pontiac and Farmington.

"It's larger," Bolla said. "And it will allow us to have some more synergy between our engineer and operations crews, which will help us with our planned projects."

As for the enclosed mall, the township is giving Ari-El until Sept. 25, 2019, to begin tearing down the structure. It will have until a year later to complete the demolition, which the contractor Wreck-It Demolition LLC of Florida estimates will cost $2.89 million.

Other proposals for the 1963-built mall — a minor-league ballpark, a children’s entertainment center and a water park — never got off the ground due to insufficient funding. Meanwhile, the township has seen a potential source of tax dollars sit idle after the mall closed in September 2009 and its anchors soon followed. While thousands once flocked to the shopping center, in recent years the only ones headed there were scrappers and vandals breaking inside, or police and township building officials writing citations for multiple building and safety violations.

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

Summit Place is not the only Metro Detroit shopping center that is looking to a new future by starting from scratch. The city of Southfield is in the process of tearing down Northland Center, once America's largest mall, to make space for mixed-used developments combining assisted-living, housing, offices, research and retail. Additionally, the city of Sterling Heights has created plans that could result in tearing down Lakeside Mall for entertainment, residential and retail buildings.