AKRON, Ohio — Chapel Hill Mall was not forced to close Friday morning despite the city of Akron stating the water would be disconnected due to an overdue utility bill.
The mayor's office released the following statement shortly before 11 a.m.:
The water service to Chapel Hill mall will not be disconnected today, Friday January 3, 2020. As of 9:15 AM this morning, sufficient payment has been received by the City to avoid immediate shut off.
The City is deeply disappointed in the property owner’s failure of action that led to this point. Over several months, the City has made significant attempts to work in good faith with the property owner regarding acceptable payment. Unfortunately, due to the property owner’s nonpayment, the City was forced to take action to issue the shut off notice. The City does not take this action or its obligation lightly. Large businesses and property owners located here are “corporate citizens” and we expect them to uphold their responsibilities and serve as meaningful contributors to the Akron community.
While payment has been made today, the water/sewer account for this property remains in a delinquent status. The City will continue to negotiate with the property owner regarding an appropriate payment plan, or additional shut off notices may be issued in the future. Shut off would cause significant disruption to establishments located in the mall, adjacent businesses, and their employees. We hope the property owner will take the steps necessary to avoid that event.
Mayor Horrigan and the City administration are fully committed to supporting the establishments and businesses located in and around the mall. These businesses create jobs and contribute to the Akron economy. Representatives of the Office of Integrated Development (OID) have reached out to these businesses to offer business assistance and an ongoing, open line of communication.
The Chapel Hill neighborhood holds immense potential, and we will continue to support its success in an evolving commercial and retail landscape. Given the flexibility of the zoning, and the overall attractiveness of the location, this large 72-acre site presents great opportunity for any combination of commercial, residential, retail or light industrial use.
Chapel Hill Mall offered an update on Facebook shortly after 10 a.m. Friday that simply declared: "Chapel Hill Mall is open and operating! Have a wonderful day!"
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that water was tentatively scheduled to be disconnected after 9:30 a.m. because of the late payment. No water would mean no business. The city of Akron issued the following letter, which was sent to mall tenants, to the media on Friday afternoon:
The building’s tenants were reportedly notified of the potential shutdown with letters on New Year’s Eve.
"In the event that water service is disconnected, you may no longer be permitted access to your leased space per applicable building and safety code requirements," wrote James Hardy, deputy mayor of Integrated Development, according to the Beacon Journal. "After shutoff has occurred, the City will make available future dates for tenants' limited access to the mall."
Earlier Friday, Ellen Nischt of the Akron mayor's office tells 3News "sufficient payment has not been made" and the "balance due is significant."
Twice last year, tenants were warned of the mall’s utility payment woes. Although no disconnections were made, a five-day notification was most recently issued late last year for a reported late electric payment.
Chapel Hill Mall's Facebook page showed no indication of any potential closure as of early Friday morning. Their post from New Year's Day said, "We hope that 2020 is the BEST. YEAR. YET!"