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Southfield City Council to discuss sale of vacant Northland mall for $11M

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

The Southfield City Council is expected Monday to discuss a proposal for the sale of the former Northland Center for $11 million to a Bloomfield Hills company that plans to redevelop it into apartments, restaurants and retail space. 

The sale to Contour Companies of Bloomfield Hillsis expected to be finalized in January and construction is set to begin in the spring.

"This is a local company that believes in Southfield and wants to be in Southfield," Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said in a news release. "We are also looking to the state of Michigan for economic development incentives as this major project which covers 97 acres in the center of southeastern Michigan will be a major economic driver for the entire region."

This is a rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Northland mall.

David Dedvukaj, CEO of Contour Companies, said the project "will transform the property into a lively new urban center while respecting and reinforcing the history of the site, as well as its unique mid century modern design." 

The proposal goes before the Southfield City Council on Monday, according to Crain's Detroit Business. 

When Northland Center opened in 1954, it was the largest shopping mall in the world and led the way to Southfield becoming a major commercial, business and residential area in Metro Detroit. 

It closed in 2015 and the city of Southfield bought it for $2.4 million with plans to remediate, demolish and sell the property to a qualified developer. Demolition of the former Target and Firestone buildings have already been completed. 

The city also sold five acres to Ascension Health for an expansion of the Providence Hospital campus. 

Contour's plans reflect residents' input from 2015 on how the center should be used. 

"The city purchased Northland because we wanted to control the destiny of this very strategic and historic property,” Council President Lloyd Crews said in the release. "We turned away factories, light manufacturing, medical marijuana, big box retail, warehouses and logistics centers and held out for development that would grow our tax base and population."

Contour plans on demolishing the JC Penney's building, the more recent mall additions and the 1974 enclosure of the free-standing structures. The developer company will save and renovate the original five retail pads from the former mall as well as the underground tunnels and J.L. Hudson's building. 

The project will have two phases. Phase one includes 14, five-story apartment buildings that will have a total of 1,339 units. Six of these buildings will have a commercial component on the ground floor facing Greenfield Road. The old Hudson building will be turned into the Hudson City Market, a food-and-specialty home furnishings marketplace, filled with dining and entertainment options. 

Phase two will incorporate more mixed-use residential buildings with townhomes sitting on a landscaped green space complete with a pond and other amenities. The power plant will become a community clubhouse and the Northland water tower will also remain in place.