Southfield Outlines Ambitious Vision For Site Of Defunct Northland Center Mall

Posted on August 12, 2016

The closed Northland Center mall is pictured on Aug. 10, 2016. (credit: Mike Campbell)

The closed Northland Center mall is pictured on Aug. 10, 2016. (credit: Mike Campbell)

A vision is taking shape for what was once the site of Northland Center mall in Southfield.

City officials say the plan includes a mixed-use development of office space, retail, dining, possibly a hotel and housing.

“The vision isn’t just pie in the sky,” Mayor Ken Siver told reporters this week. “And we have data, market data, that indicates (the property) could support so much housing, support so much retail…perhaps a hotel — a boutique hotel.”

 (credit: Mike Campbell)

(credit: Mike Campbell)

Part of the plan: developers are looking at digging out the site’s underground tunnels which once were used for delivery and storage for stores in the mall. Ideas include turning the tunnels in to a lake to help manage rain water runoff and make the housing more desirable.

This type of development is something, Siver said, the community has been clamoring for.

“People want new housing they want new floor plans, new amenities, and that’s what this project will bring,” Siver said.

The mall, located just north of Detroit, opened in 1954. It was enclosed in 1971 and enjoyed many years of popularity until suffering a steady decline in recent years, eventually losing both Macy’s and Target — its anchor stores.

With Southfield officials cited “changing shopping patterns” as the primary problem, shoppers complained about too much crime.

When the owners defaulted on a $31 million loan, the 70 remaining tenants were evicted and the mall closed for good in March, 2015. The 114-acre property was then purchased by the city for $2.4 million from a court-ordered receiver.

 (credit: Mike Campbell)

(credit: Mike Campbell)

While Macy’s has announced the closure of about 100 stores nationwide next year, Southfield’s city administrator Fred Zorn said it’s not out of the question there could again be a major department store on the property.

“It’s possible,” Zorn said. “Macy’s only failed because it was a 450,000 square-foot store, and they were responsible for 50 percent of the common area maintenance costs. That relationship doesn’t exist in any mall. Their new footprint is 100,000 to 120,000 square feet.”

Demolition has not yet begun at the site. It’s the city’s hope, WWJ’s Mike Campbell reports, to save at least part of the iconic building.