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Fort Saginaw Mall Slated For Demolition In The Spring

Planned Rebirth of Prominent Location

November 30, 2008       Leave a Comment
By: MyBayCity Staff

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(Photos courtesy of Forgotten Michigan)

Buena Vista Charter Township officials announced today that the former Fort Saginaw Mall is slated for demolition in the spring of 2009. The dilapidated structure at E. Holland Ave. and S. Outer Dr. was deemed a health and safety concern for the residents of the community.

According to Forgotten Michigan, Fort Saginaw Mall was the first of two malls in Saginaw, Michigan. It started out with a Kmart/Kmart Foods that opened in 1966. The mall itself opened a year later, with the other major stores being Scott's 5 & 10, a one-screen movie theater, and Federal department store.

In 1975, Fashion Square Mall was built on Bay Rd. in Saginaw's North side. The Saginaw Mall was several times larger than Fort Saginaw Mall and anchored by JCPenney and Sears, as well as two local department stores: Heavenrich's and Wiechmann's.

The Fort Saginaw Mall Theater closed in 1976, reportedly because the manager was murdered. When Kmart abandoned the Kmart Foods concept, the old Kmart Foods space was used to expand the Kmart.

In the mid 1980s, Burlington Coat Factory took over Fort Saginaw's former Federal, and a Big Lots was added. T G & Y closed with the chain, and was soon replaced with Norman's Sporting Goods. Nonetheless, the crime rate in Buena Vista continued to climb, and Fashion Square's neighborhood was quickly filling up with big chain stores and fast foods for miles around.

By 1990, fewer than a dozen tenants remained in Fort Saginaw Mall. Burlington Coat Factory moved out in 1991, opening a larger store across from Fashion Square Mall. Phar-Mor quickly replaced the Burlington Coat Factory store for less than a year, as Phar-Mor would pull out of Michigan in 1992.

The Fort Saginaw Mall itself, except for Kmart, was finally boarded up by the mid-1990s. Kmart stayed open until May 2004.

Back in it's "hay-day" the Fort Saginaw Mall included the following stores:

* Adam Shoes

* Albert's

* Baskin-Robbins

* Big Lots

* Burlington Coat Factory

* Candle Light

* Claire's Boutique

* Docktor Pet Center

* El-Bee Shoe Outlet

* Fashion Bug

* Federal Department Store

* Fiesta Hair Salon

* Fort Saginaw Cinemas

* General Nutrition Center (1990s)

* Graystone Company (1990s)

* Greenley Appliance

* Jo-Ann Fabrics

* Kmart

* Kmart Foods

* Lite & Delicious Deli

* Muir Drugs

* Nadine's Jewelers

* Nobil Shoes

* Norman's Sporting Goods

* Phar-Mor

* Prime Time

* Scott's 5 & 10

* T G&Y

* Thal's

* Thom McCan Shoes

* Wig Land

* Yoko Health Spa

Buena Vista Downtown Development Authority funding and a grant from the State of Michigan will pay for the removal of the L-shaped structure, which sits on a 33-acre parcel.

"Unfortunately the former mall site has been a community eyesore for over a quarter century," said Buena Vista Charter Township Supervisor Dwayne Parker. "The residents of Buena Vista deserve better and now we have the means to remove a large source of blight."

A recent press release stated, the building is filled with cracked ceiling tiles, holes in the roof and plant growth in the structure surrounded by a sea of cracked pavement. The cost to demolish the 380,000 sq. ft. building is approximately $880,000.

"This is a special project for Buena Vista and all of Saginaw County and it's exciting to be a part of the rebirth of such a prominent location," said JoAnn Crary, president of Saginaw Future Inc. "The elimination of blight is a critical first step in helping to rejuvenate the community."

According to Thomas J. McCarthy, an attorney with Monaghan, P.C., in Bloomfield Hills who represented Buena Vista Township in the acquisition, In November 2007, the township filed a condemnation case to acquire the closed portion of the mall. The estimated cost to acquire the land and the boarded-up vacant structures was approximately $1.7 million, based on a well-documented appraisal report that was also provided to the mall owners, the Cafaro Co. of Youngstown, Ohio.

Thereafter, Cafaro challenged the condemnation in court. While the legal battle continued, Cafaro and the township engaged in settlement discussions to seek a resolution that would meet both their needs. The judge also encouraged the parties to resolve the case without a protracted legal fight.

Ultimately, the township and Cafaro agreed the township would acquire the entire 35-acre mall property (not just the closed portion) and assume the landlord position in the leases for the four remaining tenants. The acquisition price for the site, including the existing leases, was approximately $3 million -- a price approximately 15 percent above the township's appraised value for the entire property.

However, it also included reimbursement of the owner's attorney fees in the settlement, as is required pursuant to Michigan condemnation law. The settlement was also substantially less than the mall owners were originally seeking prior to the filing of the condemnation case.

The decision to acquire the entire mall, as well as settle the condemnation case, was made at a public meeting of the township's Board of Trustees after consultation with the Downtown Development Authority board.

The decision was endorsed by the township's attorneys and planning consultants, as well as the unanimous conclusion of both the township board and the DDA that the decision was in the best long-term interest of the township.

In February of 2008, members of the Buena Vista Charter Township Board of Trustees approved a $3.13 million purchase agreement for the mall. The funding to purchase the property came from the Downtown Development Authority, which captures tax money to reinvest within its borders.

"None of this would have been possible without the leadership of the Buena Vista Township Board, the vision of the Downtown Development Authority, assistance from Saginaw Future and the State, along with the support of the residents," stated Parker.

For more information, please contact Martin Williams at 989 754-6536 or e-mail

For Information On How Your Business Or Event Can Be Featured, Call Sales & Marketing Director, O.J. Cunningham At ((989) 892-8501 Or Email TODAY!

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