By Amanda Amsel
As Franklin Township continues to work with business owners to develop a JEDD in the Westland Mall area, they recently got a lift when the Franklin Township Fire Department declared the property a nuisance.
According to Franklin Township Fire Department Captain Todd Broecker, the mall was declared a nuisance as a result of vandalism.
“The copper for the HVAC and electric systems have been stolen, resulting in no heat in the mall,” Broecker said. “If they can’t heat the building the water in the fire suppression system will freeze and not work. So if there is a fire they have no sprinkler system, which is a violation of the Ohio Fire Code and is why it was declared a nuisance.”
The 860,000-square-foot building has sat vacant for some time and the only business that remains is Sears. However, Broecker noted that Sears is a separate building from the mall and has its own electrical and HVAC system and will not be affected by these recent issues.
The township is trying to be proactive about this issue before cold weather comes in January.
“We are trying to help them stay in compliance and fix the issue before something terrible happens,” Broecker said. “We want to fix this issue before it gets too cold and there is nothing they can do.”
Franklin Township has hoped to pass a joint economic development district (JEDD) with the businesses in the area and says this latest issue with the mall may encourage other businesses to join in the JEDD.
“If there was a JEDD in this area Westland Mall could be torn down and the money from the JEDD could build something new,” said Don Cook, township trustee. “With the mall in the current condition it is in no businesses are going to come to it. They are better off tearing it down and starting over.”
Plaza Properties is the managing entity of the mall and according to Broecker, has big plans for future of the property.
“I know they have long-term plans in place and want to move forward with improving the mall,” he said. “They have not told us that many details, so that is all we know.”
The Messenger called Plaza Properties and was told the person who could speak about the property was unavailable for comment.
“They need to figure out something to do with this property,” Cook said. “They need to do a major remodel or tear down and rebuild.”