Akron’s Chapel Hill Mall came perilously close to closing its doors Friday over a delinquent water and sewer bill.
The city says its Office of Integrated Development gave the mall’s owner, New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group, until 9:30 Friday morning to make a payment or face closure.
As the deadline loomed, mall employees were arriving at work to prepare the remaining shops and restaurants for the day. Tenants had received letters warning that the pending utility shutoff could shutter their businesses.
A spokesman for the investment group declined comment except to say a payment had been made.
City spokeswoman Ellen Lander Nischt said the payment came in ahead of the deadline.
“You know the delinquency is significant and obviously to reach a point of shut off it has to be a certain amount, and a certain time period that it’s been delinquent,” she said. “So that’s the situation we found ourselves in.”
This isn’t the first time Chapel Hill’s owners have faced closure over a utility bill. Twice last year, Ohio Edison threatened shutoff over delinquent payments.
Akron will continue to work with the mall owners, Lander Nischt said, but an unpaid balance remains on the account.
“The city has been diligently reaching out to the property owner and their representative to try to establish an acceptable payment plan and get their property bill to a current status,” she said. “Unfortunately we did have to get to this point and we’re hoping that won’t happen again.”
Malls across the country are struggling to stay in business as shoppers increasingly opt for the convenience of online retail.
Chapel Hill is one of 27 distressed malls the retail investment group has purchased over the past few years. According to the group’s website, the intention is to reinvent them into community spaces.
Chapel Hill Mall stands at about 50 percent occupancy.