Mentor Responds After Great Lakes Mall Owner Filed For Bankruptcy
Washington Prime Group, owner of the Great Lakes Mall, filed for bankruptcy this week, leaving many wondering what the future holds for the Mentor mainstay.
MENTOR, Ohio – People are back in stores and states are set to get back to normal after the pandemic. However, businesses that have suffered over the past year are still suffering.
Just days ago, Washington Prime Group, the owners of the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as many were forced to do. City officials said they had been warned ahead of the announcement.
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“We were aware of this long before the announcement was made,” says Mentor City manager Kenneth Filipiak. “We’ve actually been in close contact with a lot of Washington Prime officials.”
Based on these conversations, Filipiak believes the Mall is here to stay, one of the iconic places under the Washington Prime umbrella.
“Some companies come and go, but the attraction to the mentoring market has remained. And it will continue because it’s a great environment to do business, ”he says.
In a statement to 3News, Washington Prime Group used the term “business as usual” to describe the status of Great Lakes Mall.
“It’s business as usual at the Great Lakes Mall. The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for many consumer-oriented businesses, including Washington Prime Group. The company has determined that the Chapter 11 route is the most effective next step in resolving the company’s outstanding debt as we emerge from the pandemic. Throughout the Chapter 11 financial restructuring, we expect business to continue as usual in our downtown areas, including Great Lakes Mall, where our tenants, sponsors and employees will continue to operate as normal, putting focus on providing enjoyable experiences to our customers.
The Mentor area has served as a hub for retailing in northern Ohio for years, posting an overall 92% occupancy rate for retail establishments, including the mall. That’s a number that hasn’t fluctuated much during the pandemic.
“Retail is not going anywhere. Certainly the pandemic has changed a lot of people’s habits. And it will take some time for them to come back,” Filipiak said.
By restructuring the company’s debt, the mall owner is hoping to stick around as this comeback continues. With any luck, Great Lakes Mall won’t end up on the block like other malls that have closed.
“They have a vested interest in not just maintaining it, but investing in it,” Filipiak said of Washington Prime Group, adding that the city was in talks with the company to add additional projects to the mall’s properties. So it is clear that they are thinking of growth, not closures.