A representative for the owner of Woodville Mall in Northwood last week said the dilapidated structure would be torn down and the property redeveloped, but city officials are skeptical.
Juanita Jones told Northwood City Council that Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC, the mall owner, “wants to make positive change” and “agreed the mall is coming down. It's going to be demolished.”
Ms. Jones, who managed the mall before it closed but now lives in Memphis, said the property at 3725 Williston Rd. would be redeveloped with a retail strip mall and condos. She said she has been in contact with area commercial real estate specialists who are looking for developers.
She said the former Woodville Mall structure was beyond repair and reiterated “we need to get it torn down as fast as possible.”
Northwood officials, however, were not convinced and said the firm has a history of bad faith with the city.
“We've heard it before,” Mayor Mark Stoner said. “I want to believe it, but I guess I'm a little skeptical.”
Councilman Dave Gallaher, who heads the economic development committee, said the property owner “has been less than responsive. This won’t slow down the action in court.”
He was alluding to a nuisance-abatement lawsuit the city filed on Jan. 17 against Ohio Plaza Shopping Center doing business as the Woodville Mall. The lawsuit in Wood County Common Pleas Court seeks to force the firm to tear down or remediate the dilapidated building, which has multiple fire violations, a partly collapsed roof, mold, and attracts vandals.
City attorney Brian Ballenger said Toledo Edison had disconnected power to the building because of nonpayment. Before Ohio Plaza Shopping could demolish the building, he said, it would have to post a bond with the city in an amount equal to twice the cost of the demolition.
Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson said the firm would need a demolition permit from the zoning department.
According to a filing with the Wood County Auditor, Ohio Plaza Shopping Center bought the mall for $800,000 on Dec. 27, but city officials wonder if this was a real sale or a paper transaction.
The Andersons Inc. intends to close its store at the mall next month, citing the mall’s poor condition. No maintenance has been done on the 43-year-old mall structure for more than a year.