Great Northern Mall officials are proposing a multi-million
dollar upgrade including a new food court depicted here. (Graphic
courtesy of Westfield Great Northern Mall)
proposes multi-million-dollar upgrade
By Jeff Gallatin
Published July 29, 2009
Great Northern Mall officials have proposed a multi-million dollar
remodeling project which they believe will help what the area’s
appetite for using the facility.
Mall and Westfield officials presented the proposal
to the North Olmsted Municipal Planning and Design Commission July
22. The proposal involves relocating the existing food court to
the area on the north side of the mall in the vicinity of Dick’s
Sporting Goods. The existing food court will be renovated to accommodate
two new major retail tenants for that area while existing food businesses,
those located above the food court and mall offices will move to
other parts of the mall.
In addition, Westfield will update the building façade
and exterior for the new tenants, create a new mall entry near Sears
and improve the mall entry near Dick’s as part of the proposal,
which Westfield officials hope to begin later this year if city
officials give final approval to the plans.
Kurt Reddick, general manager for the mall, said Westfield
officials have worked hard to present the best possible proposal
for the mall and the surrounding community.
“We realize there is an ongoing need to revitalize
and upgrade the mall to present the best possible environment for
people using it and the area around it.”
In considering the proposal, Planning and Design Commission
officials recommended some variances related to the design proposal
for signs, discussed others and held off on acting on portions of
the plan until all members of the commission are present. The recommended
variances will go to the Board of Zoning Appeals for further consideration
before the proposal comes back to the commission. In turn, the commission
will consider a final recommendation on the project which will go
to North Olmsted City Council.
John Lasko, chairman of the Planning and Design Commission,
said the group is giving the proposal careful scrutiny.
“We recognize the importance of
the proposal to the Mall and appreciate its efforts to renovate
and upgrade itself to continue to make it a valued part of the community,”
he said. “At the same time we’re also aware of how it affects that
surrounding community and we will review it to make sure the community’s
needs are represented and taken care of.”
Lasko said he appreciates having a major part of the
city business community propose major upgrades in the current economy.
“That says a lot that they’re willing to invest that
in our area,” he said.
Evan Vlaeminck, development manager for Westfield,
said keeping its property updated is imperative for the mall.
“This will inject new life and energy into the area,”
There will not be a need for additional parking because
overall there will be a net loss of retail footage, mall officials
said. However, in addition to the two new major retail tenants,
there will be new businesses in the new food court, Reddick said.
Vlaeminck said moving the food court to a different
area will allow the mall to better utilize a large amount of space
at the current site for a major retail tenant.
Westfield officials said they are still in discussions
with one of the major tenants and can’t release its identity at
In discussing the proposal, Commission members reviewed
different aspects of the plan and how it would affect the area.
Some of the discussion focused on placement of a sign
on a metal penthouse type structure on top of the Mall building
for one tenant. Some commission members expressed concern about
the possible large size of a sign while Westfield officials said
the retail tenant has said having such a sign is a crucial part
of any agreement. Commission and Westfield officials eventually
worked out a proposed compromise as part of the proposal.
“Both sides give a little, that’s what a compromise
entails,” said Vlaeminck.
Commission member Greg Malone, a professional landscaper,
expressed concern about some aspects of the area near Sears. Malone
said that three trees should be replaced. Malone and other members
looked over different aspects of the proposal to make sure it would
be an appropriate entryway.
Westfield officials said they have been trying to
discuss the area with Sears and have not heard back from Sears,
which controls its property. Westfield officials said they would
continue to try and communicate with Sears.
Ward 4 City Councilman Larry Orlowski, whose ward
includes the mall, said he’s discussed the proposal with Westfield
officials and is in favor of the overall plan.
City Officials expect the proposal to be considered
again by the Commission in mid-August after the variances go before
the Board of Zoning Appeals.
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