If we wanted to show the struggles of the classic American mall, as discussed in this edition of Retail Rap, I don’t think we could come up with a better example than Northland Mall in Southfield, Michigan. When it opened in 1954, Northland was an instant hit: an icon not only for the region, but for the nation. One of the first and largest open air centers in the nation, Northland was enclosed in 1974 and today boasts space for 96 stores and nearly 1.5 million sq. ft. of retail.
Northland has been making headlines lately, as well. As the demographics on this socioeconomic boundary have shifted, occupancy numbers have steadily declined, falling below 50% in recent years. After more than six decades of operation, the mall looks to be in danger. Target has closed and the mall’s final anchor tenant, Macy’s recently closed. Today, Northland is in receivership.
What’s in store for Northland? What is the next chapter for this venerable American mall? Will it be razed and transformed into an industrial park like Randall Park Mall, repositioned into a different retail format altogether like with Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix, or will it end up in limbo, sitting empty like Summit Place Mall or Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio? Let’s discuss it in this edition of Retail Rap.