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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

Southwyck workers try to secure mall s hazards

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Courtney Walters walks out of Lady Foot Locker with her daughter, Caylie Walters, 4, after returning a pair of sneakers yesterday. Courtney Walters walks out of Lady Foot Locker with her daughter, Caylie Walters, 4, after returning a pair of sneakers yesterday.
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The battering of hammers sounded through the corridors of Southwyck Shopping Center yesterday, although just a few people were around to hear it.

Just the mall walkers and the tumbleweeds, observed one clerk, Peter Kharchenko of Abba Airbrush.

Workmen inside the ailing mall raced to finish nailing barricades to the wall separating Montgomery Ward and the concourse. The goal was to beat a city-imposed deadline for securing toxic mold and asbestos from seeping out of the shuttered department store.

While Southwyck is scheduled to open for business today, the 36-year-old mall s fate could depend on the outcome of today s reinspection by city crews.

City inspectors discovered the hazards May 2. On Thursday, the city gave the mall s owners 72 hours to clean up the black mold and seal off the asbestos or close the entire facility at 2040 South Reynolds Rd.

Southwyck hired a third-party inspector, Watterson Environmental Group of Sylvania.

Alyciana Garcia, with her father, Jose Garcia, take a ride on the Southwyck Carousel. The few shoppers and walkers at the mall yesterday seemed indifferent to the city-ordered cleanup of black mold and asbestos there. Alyciana Garcia, with her father, Jose Garcia, take a ride on the Southwyck Carousel. The few shoppers and walkers at the mall yesterday seemed indifferent to the city-ordered cleanup of black mold and asbestos there.
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On Friday, the mall s attorney said Watterson inspectors had found no visible evidence of mold growth or airborne asbestos.

Yesterday s smattering of mall visitors seemed indifferent to those developments.

Carl and Ruth Jenne of Maumee slowed down during their fitness routine to reminisce about the mall s glory days, when there were few vacancies among its 103 store sites and all three anchor tenants were in business. Only eight stores are open now. The Jennes said they would miss Southwyck today more for the walking eight-tenths of a mile per lap than for its shopping.

Paul Misch operates the mall's carousel. Few people ride the carousel these days, he said. Paul Misch operates the mall's carousel. Few people ride the carousel these days, he said.
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Paul and Margaret Misch of Point Place operate the $1 carousel near the mall s main entrance and fountain pool that opened in the early 1990s.

Mr. Misch said he heard how parents and children once formed lines to ride one of the carousel s 30 painted horses and twin carriages.

Back in its heyday, they used to run about 100 kids an hour, said Mr. Misch, 61. And even when we started 2 years ago, we would still get 100 kids a day. It s down to where we have hardly anyone riding.

He compared Southwyck s predicament to that of the former North Towne Square Mall on Alexis Road, where he regularly shopped, and to the earlier decline of downtown department store shopping.

It s just sad to see the way the mall has gone downhill, Mr. Misch said. I remember coming out here and you were walking shoulder to shoulder. It was about the same way that Westfield [Franklin Park] is now.

Carl and Ruth Jenne, right, said they would miss the mall for walking more than shopping.
Carl and Ruth Jenne, right, said they would miss the mall for walking more than shopping.
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Between hammer blows, the atmosphere inside Southwyck yesterday afternoon was quiet and almost tranquil. A visitor could wander down an entire wing of dark empty storefronts in near silence, save the patter of fountains, the soft hum of easy-listening music, or the squeak of wet walking shoes from the rain outside on tile floor.

A small television in an old information kiosk showed fuzzy reception of a CNN talk show. An entrance sign bid visitors to Shop Stroll Stay Awhile.

If I want to unwind a little bit, I will come out here, said Jan Zinn, 57, of East Toledo, as she relaxed on a bench with the Sunday newspaper.

Contact JC Reindl at: jreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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