Oakland Mall in Troy was recently purchased by Troy-based MKiezi Investments.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY – On March 28, it was officially announced that Oakland Mall would be purchased by Troy-based MKiezi Investments from its former owner, CenterCal Properties.

The acquisition price for the sale was not disclosed. MKiezi Investments Founder and Chairman Mario Kiezi led the sale and said the site has personal meaning to him.

“I spent a lot of time during my early childhood in Oakland Mall watching my family in their store, Antoine’s Ice Cream, where I watched and learned the basics of the business,” he said in a Press release. “I walked the mall and brought attention to retail when I was 10 years old. The location is great with an exceptional community of tenants that we plan to work with and add with a focus on family entertainment, dining and a focus on maker culture.

The mall, located at 14 Mile and John R Roads, has 116 stores, including a food court, as well as several outlying big-box stores. The mall is 1,500,000 square feet and was built in 1968. MKiezi had previously purchased the Sears store in Oakland Mall, and it was this decision that convinced him that purchasing the entire property of the mall would be a wise investment.

“Acquiring the Sears site brought me back to the mall and opened my eyes to the potential,” Kiezi said. “I see huge potential. You will see immediate changes and long term changes. You will see some forward thinking implementations. long-term mix.

Kiezi and his company said they hope to transform the mall’s feel over time, including the future implementation of place-making concepts and other ideas such as brick-and-mortar retail. click, entertainment and family restaurants, ghost kitchens, advanced retail distribution and complementary land uses. They want to “attract families who are looking for a non-elite, unique and exciting shopping experience,” they said in a press release.

“We look forward to improving the Oakland Mall and making it a true community center, providing a family-oriented environment with places for adults as well,” Kiezi said. “Our overarching primary vision is what we see as a cutting-edge model focused on hipster art and community engagement, including the potential activation of outdoor spaces such as the periodic operation of a farmers market. We regard this as a people’s shopping mall. Using social media platforms such as TikTok to interact with the community, we encourage everyone to share ideas on what they would like to see us do, and we will be conducting surveys to help guide our decision-making.

Kiezi added that there will be many changes over the next five years, but they plan to start renovations and add new stores within the year.

“People should see immediate changes over the next year,” he said. “We’ve had incredible press and a lot of people are excited about what we plan to do. Many people have reached out to open restaurants. We also looked at new entertainment and beauty companies.

The prevailing mood around those working inside the mall after the announcement is one of cautious optimism, with many saying they hope the sale will improve late business and mall footfall.

“I’m glad he bought it. I feel like he’s going to make a difference,” said Rita Eesaa, an employee of Manic Shoes. “We all need this mall. He’s been dead for a while and he needs some changes.

Eesaa said she hopes for new business that will attract more people, as well as new restaurants and public spaces.

“I found out about (the purchase) online, but I’m happy with the changes. It would help us,” she said. “I hear they’re going to make a better space for families to come with. their children. They will be opening more restaurants at the food court which is good because we don’t have many great restaurants here and often have to bring our food in from outside.

Sarah Alayan, a manager at MJ Diamonds, has worked at the mall for 12 years and said there has never been a transition like this in that time.

“They didn’t officially tell us anything about the sale,” she said. “I heard the mall was bought, but that’s about it.”

She said details and facts about the upcoming changes were scarce.

“I’m surprised, because no one said anything,” Alayan said. “I heard people saying they would make things nicer and it would be remodeled and there would be more restaurants, but I heard all of this online. We hope for better. We are fine here We are fine, but we are waiting to see if what they say is true.

Brad Switkowski, a resident of Sterling Heights, has frequented the Oakland Mall for over 20 years. He said he was happy to hear that changes were afoot.

“I haven’t heard of (the sale) until now, but I think it’s great,” he remarked. “It’s no secret that this mall has been in decline for a long time. …I think anything they can do to make improvements and bring in more people would be good.

Kiezi said the mall had been called dead by others, but he saw the situation very differently. He thinks it has the potential to be a huge boon to his business and the community in the Troy area.

“It means the world to me. I have a lot of creativity, and undertaking a project of this magnitude is huge. Putting that creativity into one big piece of real estate, arguably Metro Detroit’s sleepiest site, means a lot. I’ve had people contact me to expand further into other markets, but I’m happy to put my efforts here.

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