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Published: Sunday, 8/26/2007

Dillard's tells workers store to shut in 60 days

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dillard s is an anchor store at Southwyck Shopping Center. The
mall is nearly 36 years old. The new plan calls for a $125 million
metamorphosis from enclosed mall to urban village. Dillard s is an anchor store at Southwyck Shopping Center. The mall is nearly 36 years old. The new plan calls for a $125 million metamorphosis from enclosed mall to urban village.
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So long, Southwyck. Hello, Shops at Fallen Timbers.

Dillard's told its employees at its Southwyck Shopping Center store yesterday that the aging mall's last remaining anchor will close in 60 days.

That's about the same time that Dillard's is expected to open its store at the Shops development in Maumee.

The Shops at Fallen Timbers is set to open Oct. 3.

The Dillard's decision could break a logjam that has been delaying the redevelopment of the Southwyck property, local real-estate developer Larry Dillin said.

Mr. Dillin, whose Dillin Development Corp. is overseeing the redevelopment of Southwyck, a second phase for Levis Commons in Perrysburg, and the Marina District for the city of Toledo, said last night he was not surprised to learn that the store would be leaving the mall.

"We've been expecting that this would be happening because we were fully aware that no new fall merchandise was coming in," he said.

"I'm sure it's disappointing for people who live in South Toledo. But as far as the ability to redevelop the site, it gets easier as long as they are willing to sell at a reasonable price."

Mr. Dillin said the announcement is not a negative for redevelopment of the property.

"We now need Dillard's to commit to sell the site at a value that would allow us to redevelop it," he said.

Dillard's Inc. of Little Rock, Ark., previously said it would remain at Southwyck through 2011. But officials of the firm at the time would not say whether Mr. Dillin asked for Dillard's to leave Southwyck so he could develop the property without a department store.

Plans to redevelop the property as a mixed-use Village at Southwyck have been stuck in park with the refusal of mall part-owner Bill Dillard to either sell his share or join a redevelopment effort with Mr. Dillin.

Dreiseszun & Morgan of Kansas City is the managing partner for the mall ownership group, which includes Mr. Dillard, Sherman Dreiseszun, and his nephew and business partner Tom Morgan. Mr. Dillard is chairman and chief executive officer of Dillard's Inc.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said last week that the possibility of using the city's eminent domain power to take control of the mall had not been ruled out.

He said he intended to give the current owners 30 days to consider Mr. Dillin's proposal before taking any action.

Brain Schwartz, the mayor's spokesman, said last night that "it's sad, but not unexpected."

Finkbeiner administration officials have asked City Council for authorization to spend some of the $2.7 million in capital funds that have been set aside for Southwyck on improvements to the median islands, the traffic signs, and the street lighting on Reynolds between Heatherdowns Boulevard and Glendale Avenue.

However, there were few details about the kind of work to be done or how much it would cost.

The mall is nearly 36 years old.

The once-thriving area around it, roughly bounded by Glendale Avenue and the Ohio Turnpike interchange, is filled with vacant buildings.

Elected officials have been pushing for action on the mall for nearly three years.

Mr. Dillin's plans for Southwyck call for a $125 million metamorphosis from enclosed mall to urban village.

In June, Mr. Dillin said he went to a shopping center convention the previous month in Las Vegas with a specific vision for a redeveloped Southwyck Shopping Center.

But when he returned, he had a revised notion.

A redeveloped Southwyck could have a closer mix of housing and stores than was originally proposed, Mr. Dillin said.

The change stemmed from suggestions by retailers and others at the convention, he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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