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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Mall's demise blamed on electric costs

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The owners of the Lakeside Centre mall in Toledo said yesterday that high electric costs forced them to decide to close the 24-year-old mall a month from now.

However, co-owner Jack Kashani said he wants to redevelop the mall for use by light industrial firms, possibly for suppliers of the Toledo Jeep Assembly plant.

"Jeep is expanding rapidly in Toledo and they're looking for locations for their suppliers. I'm hoping we can convert it to a type of a facility that will be beneficial for Jeep or its suppliers," said Mr. Kashani, a California businessman who, with his partner, Sammy Kahen, bought the mall, formerly called North Towne Square, for $ 1 million in December, 2002.

Lakeside Centre will close Feb. 21. About 20 remaining tenants in the 760,000-square foot mall were told this week to leave by the closing date.

Mr. Kashani and Mr. Kahen own Lakeside Centre and two of the three adjoining former anchor stores once owned by Elder-Beerman and Dillard's. A third anchor, formerly a Montgomery Ward, is owned by Toledo businessman Ron Hemelgarn, who turned it into a 21st Century Super Fitness health club.

Mr. Kashani said electricity was costing nearly $60,000 monthly and tenant rent could not offset that. "The security, janitorial, maintenance, and everything else I could handle, but the electricity expenses they were putting us out of business," he said.

On Monday, workers will begin converting the Dillard's store for use by light industrial businesses. Mr. Kashani said once the mall closes, more renovation will occur. "I also have plenty of land there that I can expand. It's 60 acres of land and nearly 700,000 square feet of space," he said.

Pete Shawaker, a partner at Michael Realty Co., a Toledo commercial real estate firm, will market the property to potential users. Previously, the mall lot was used to store excess inventory of Jeep Libertys.

"My opinion is it's a great spot for suppliers of Jeeps. It's just a three-mile drive to the plant. If they need something, it can be there in five minutes," Mr. Shawaker said. "If the retail anchor is not going to happen - and we tried that and it's not going to happen - then this industrial thing is the way to go."

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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