Chapel Hill Hollow Mall turns into Akron Business Park

To leave, to leave … to be reborn.

Chapel Hill Mall, as a shopping center, has disappeared. Only the scattered remains of what was once Akron’s bustling and main shopping center remain inside.

Those leftovers – which include signs, banners, counters, shelves, a large disco ball still hanging from the ceiling, and other junk – will disappear in the weeks to come. Everything will be overturned and blown away by demolition crews working many front loaders brought inside for the messy and dusty task.

A worker walks through the space that was once Party City at the Chapel Hill Mall on Tuesday in Akron.

Looked:Chapel Hill Mall through the years

Nostalgic shoppers don’t have to worry about a thing: the children’s carousel in the old food court is being preserved; it was taken apart and donated to the city of Akron.

The Chapel Hill Mall carousel was donated to the city of Akron earlier this year.

These former buyers probably wouldn’t recognize the place, which opened in 1967, if they could walk around now. The walls that separated the store from the store are hardly any more. The exterior hides an interior which is essentially a large open space which, in the years to come, is expected to be filled with light commercial and industrial enterprises.

So, bye, Chapel Hill Mall. Hello, Chapel Hill Business Park.

"The project is in full demolition mode," says Christopher Semarjian, owner of Industrial Commercial Properties.

“The project is in full demolition mode,” said Chris Semarjian, founder of Industrial Commercial Properties, a Solon-based company that specializes in purchasing and researching large commercial, industrial and retail sites. new uses.

In March, ICP purchased the 800,000 square foot mall and associated outbuilding as part of a transfer from the city of Akron and the former owner, New York-based Kohan Real Estate Investment Group. Mike Kohan bought the mall in 2016 for $ 8.6 million and was unable to build tenants there; the 60-acre property was seized in 2020 for non-payment of more than $ 631,000 in Summit County property taxes.

About industrial commercial properties: Chapel Hill Mall buyer transforms buildings and land in Northeast Ohio

ICP will spend at least $ 6 million to renovate the property as part of its sale agreement with the city. The city, in turn, changed the zoning of the property to allow for light industrial uses.

“It opens now. The majority of the walls inside have already fallen,” Semarjian said.

ICP has a lot of experience in this sort of thing. He has similar plans elsewhere in northeast Ohio, including the redevelopment of the old Randall Park mall and other states. Semarjian is also a partner of The East End, the redeveloped former headquarters of Goodyear.

Michelle Nicholson, Director of Sales and Leasing for Industrial Commercial Properties, talks about the renovation.

Enter Michelle Robinson, an Akron native and ICP Director of Sales and Leasing whose responsibilities include finding new commercial tenants for the soon to be fully opened interior. She and her colleagues usually work in the old mall office. (The establishment has on-site security 24/7.)

“I think it’s going to be great for the jobs,” said Nicholson, who said she “grew up in the mall”.

Michelle Nicholson, Director of Sales and Leasing for Industrial Commercial Properties, shows off the ongoing remodeling inside the old Chapel Hill Mall building.

The former Sears store is already home to the first tenant, Craft33, a building products company that has grown there. The old dependency of the Sears Auto Center, meanwhile, is also intended to be reassigned.

ICP has prospects elsewhere in the mall, Nicholson said.

“We can do a lot with this space,” she said.

The industrial space inside the old Chapel Hill Mall building is being painted white.

The current dark interior is in the process of being painted white, including exposed terraces, beams and other elements that were hidden by the now-removed suspended ceilings. This will help brighten up the interior, Nicholson said. Highly efficient LED lighting will do the rest, she said.

During this time, the exterior of the entire property will be painted white and slate. Lettering that states Chapel Hill Mall will be removed.

Michelle Nicholson of Industrial Commercial Properties gives Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon a tour of the deconstruction site of the former Chapel Hill Mall.

The renovation project does not include the old Macy’s store which has been converted into a warehousing business. The ICP purchase did not include this part of the old mall.

Semarjian said he believes that by 2023 Chapel Hill Business Park will be completely occupied by up to 10 companies. He hopes to announce a major new tenant in the near future.

But by the time the old mall is full, ICP will have spent millions of dollars demolishing, cleaning up and then rebuilding much of the property.

A worker repaints the main entrance to the old Chapel Hill Mall building on Tuesday in Akron.

“No one wants to come to an old mall – they want to come to a thriving business park,” Semarjian said. “You have to completely change the narrative about the mall.”

What was once a declining property is turning, Semarjian said, into a “positive supplier”.

Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.