RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — It looks like the old Richmond Town Square mall will see new life.
The Richmond Heights City Council approved full site plans Tuesday night to redevelop the 69-acre property into a mixed-use development called Belle Oaks Marketplace. The $260-million project includes 800 luxury apartments, and room for approximately 30 restaurants and retail businesses, along with green space, a resort-style swimming pool, and walking paths. The development would be anchored by a Meijer store.
"You have to make the apartments for the people, and then you build in the restaurants for the people that are living there," Mayor David Roche said. "Along with our present residents, they don't have to go out of town to go to a restaurant."
Council President Eloise Cotton Henry said the name, Belle Oaks, is a nod to the original name of the city of Richmond Heights. The city was founded in 1916 as the village of Claribel before changing its name to Richmond Heights in 1917.
In 1966, Richmond Town Square was heralded as the largest enclosed shopping mall in Ohio with fancy fountains and 90 stores — where generations of residents in the eastern suburbs went to visit Santa and Mr. Jingeling at Christmas time. When it closed for good last May, it joined dead and dying mall across the nation waiting for a new vision.
That vision comes from DealPoint Merrill, a California developer which announced that it had acquired the property this past summer. City officials expect the project to create hundreds of new jobs and an additional $20-million more in tax revenue over 30 years, but there are concerns from some residents over the project's 15-year tax abatement and its impact on schools.
"There's no interest that I have in apartments," Patricia Ackerman from the group Concerned Citizens for Richmond Heights told 3News. "I'm not sure at all, the true value that they will bring to the city. We're talking about the opportunity for transient populations to come."
A development agreement is still in the works, but the goal is to begin demolition of the mall in January, with the first phase of the project to open in 2023.