Woodville Mall begins to fall

Crews now tackling teardown of crumbling shopping center

3/4/2014
BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Demolition crews tear down the Woodville Mall in Northwood. The shopping center was closed in December, 2011, because of serious problems such as mold, asbestos, and water damage.
Demolition crews tear down the Woodville Mall in Northwood. The shopping center was closed in December, 2011, because of serious problems such as mold, asbestos, and water damage.

After years of frustration for Northwood officials, Woodville Mall is coming down.

A demolition crew from Paschal Bihn and Sons Excavating is working six days a week to dismantle the derelict structure, which has been closed since December, 2011, has serious water damage and mold, and contains asbestos. It was considered a public nuisance that attracted thieves, vandals, and even trysting couples.

The mall was closed at the order of the Wood County Common Pleas Court because of structural problems that presented safety hazards at the 778,000-square foot building at 3725 Williston Rd. Other problems included the lack of heat, large holes and collapsed roof areas, and nonfunctioning fire sprinklers and alarms.

“It’s been a lot of years and a lot of frustration,” Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson said.

When one of the mall’s biggest tenants, the Andersons Inc., announced in late 2012 that it was closing its leased store there, the company cited “a serious deterioration of the structure in recent months.” The departure of the retailer cost the city almost $40,000 annually in lost income taxes.

After repeated unfulfilled promises, the city returned to Wood County Common Pleas Court in August to compel the owners to demolish or abate the property’s numerous violations.

Judge Reeve Kelsey ordered the demolition to be complete by May 2 and all asphalt and cement slabs to be gone by July 31.

The exceptions are the Sears store, which is detached from the mall and remains in business, and the former Elder-Beerman building, which is owned separately and later received a reprieve after initially falling under the judge’s order.

Paschal Bihn’s co-owner Dayne Bihn said his firm is demolishing the former mall for the owner in return for the salvage value of the metal, which has been diminished because the structure’s copper had been stolen by the time he arrived on the job a few weeks ago. The city is paying nothing for the work.

The metal is hauled away for shredding and then sold to a mill. Mr. Bihn said the old mall still contains plenty of resalable items, such as light fixtures. The former Tire Man store building remains in good condition, he said, and probably will be sold rather than demolished.

Demolition crews tear down the Woodville Mall  in Northwood.
Demolition crews tear down the Woodville Mall in Northwood.

The Glen Cove, N.Y., owner of the mall is Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC. Its principal, Soleyman Galchi, did not return phone calls.

The firm bought the mall for $800,000 in late 2012, according to the Wood County Auditor. Tim Keller, chairman of California-based Woodville LLC, owner of the former Elder-Beerman building, also did not return calls.

Ed Schimmel, who chairs Northwood City Council’s economic development committee, said the owners have not returned his calls either, and he does not know their plans for the properties. He said a former owner several years ago wanted to turn the mall into a Levis Commons-style open air retail center, with the existing shops as anchors.

“What chance we have of that now, I have no idea,” he said. “But that’s the direction we’d like to see it go.”

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6095.