COVID-19 and commerce have a complicated relationship, to say the least.
But officials from Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights have continued to express optimism about the future of the mall property, located on the corner of Schoenherr and Hall roads.
In a prepared statement, Lakeside Mall general manager Jerry Weller said the Florida-based firm Out of the Box Ventures, since it originally acquired the mall in December 2019, has been focused on revitalizing the complex for “interactive, community-driven” purposes.
“The response from the local community has been extremely supportive, and (it) provides us with great confidence as we continue to develop future plans and initiatives for the mall,” Weller said.
Weller said that much like other businesses, the mall’s team faced new challenges with COVID-19. As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer began ordering shutdowns of many businesses and gatherings as part of her stay-at-home orders in March, the mall closed for part of the spring. In response, Out of the Box announced that it would cut mall tenants’ rent for April and May, except for common area maintenance fees.
In the months since reopening, Weller said, Lakeside has closely monitored guidelines from local and national authorities to provide a safe environment for shoppers and retailers. He added that some mall attractions, like the carousel, haven’t been open or are temporarily closed. And to accommodate holiday shoppers, many mall retailers offered curbside pickup and special holiday hours, he said.
But the mall has adapted. For instance, Weller said, the property has hosted Movie Magic outdoor drive-in movies. A lease will allow the drive-in movies to continue at least through March 2021, Weller said.
Weller added that the mall retailers and vendors have continued to adjust and adapt their store operations as needed.
“At Lakeside Mall, it has always been our goal to help our retailers navigate these challenging times,” he said. “Although this year may have looked different for businesses, we look forward to next year and to continuing to transform our property into an inviting, attractive destination for our community.”
When asked about the future of the Lakeside Mall property, Sterling Heights Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner said that in terms of the conversations he has had, there has been really no change in direction. For years, city officials have been preparing for ways to make the area mixed use. That could mean adding residential properties to the area and adding more walkable features, among other things.
Bonner said the city is approaching the issue from a long-term perspective, looking “three, four, five years down the road.”
“I think there’s a lot of optimism about the future use of the property,” he said. “I think the market is strong.”
Weller said the mall looks forward to sharing future plans with the Sterling Heights community “as our operating environment evolves.”
Learn more about Lakeside Mall, 14000 Lakeside Circle in Sterling Heights, by visiting www.shop-lakesidemall.com. Find out more about the Movie Magic drive-in movies by visiting www.moviemagiclakeside.com.
Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.