A look into the future of the former Upper Valley Mall: Could it be the region’s latest success story?

The Upper Valley Mall on Jan. 4, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
caption arrowCaption
The Upper Valley Mall on Jan. 4, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Company behind mall site development gave new life to buildings across state

Springfield’s former mall will begin transitioning into its new life as a business park this year.

Ohio-based developer Industrial Commercial Properties (ICP) agreed to purchase the Upper Valley Mall property from the Clark County Land Reutilization Corp for $2.25 million last June, and the sale closed Aug. 6.

ICP, founded in 1996, is a commercial and industrial rehabilitation and economic redevelopment company that works with local partners to give new life to shuttered buildings. The regional development company has worked recently in the Springfield area prior to its purchase of the former Upper Valley Mall, located at 1457 Upper Valley Pike.

Current moves and past projects provide a look at what could be coming for the former mall space.

A vision for Springfield’s development

ICP acquired a property located at 3100 Upper Valley Pike for redevelopment, and the property was later purchased by Surati Sweet Mart. The Toronto-based Indian snack foods company plans to invest $16 million into the building and bring 108 jobs to the area.

After seeing the growing market in the Upper Valley Pike area, ICP approached the land bank about the mall location.

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ICP senior vice president Dean Miller said that his company is working to convert the former mall into a business park for a variety of industrial or commercial businesses. Since its purchase of the former mall, the company has been demolishing the building’s interior to eliminate the typical shop spaces found in any mall.

The building will start as an “open canvas,” Miller said, and the company will work with tenants to create spaces that suit their needs.

One business has signed its initial lease with ICP for roughly 35,000 square feet of the 700,000 square feet of available space, Miller said, although he was unable to reveal the tenant’s identity. The first tenant is expected to move in this year.

ICP is also working on a second lease with another company for a larger space of about 100,000 square feet. Several other businesses have approached ICP to discuss taking up space within the facility.

The exterior of the former mall is undergoing its own makeover with fresh painting, and Miller said ICP will work with the existing parking layout to create sections that separate smaller vehicles from semi trucks.

Miller said that buildings too often close and remain vacant for years, filled with nothing but the uncertainty of what purpose that structure can serve.

“We’re invested in being a positive solution to that question,” he said.

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Springfield’s former mall is the fourth mall ICP has acquired for redevelopment, Miller said. ICP and its leaders have worked with other vacant buildings across the state to give the spaces new purposes.

Neighboring development efforts

Examples of new life in larger structures driven by ICP exist in the region.

When General Motors closed its Moraine assembly plant in 2008, nearly 2,000 workers were left without jobs. GM’s 3.9 million-square-foot campus sat empty for nearly three years before a GM bankruptcy agreement made the plant available for purchase, according to ICP.

The closure of the GM plant had a substantial impact on Moraine’s budget, which saw a 40% cut over several years as the plant reduced its workforce and shifts prior to its closure, said Moraine city manager Michael Davis, who worked as the economic development director in Montgomery County at the time of the GM closure.

“Moraine was a microcosm of the national economy,” he said.

The city and county leadership saw potential in the plant after its closure, fearing interested buyers would simply demolish the site and not work with the valuable existing structure, Davis said, but developers wanted to give new purpose to the former assembly plant.

ICP signed its first tenant at the site in 2014, when Fuyao Glass America purchased 1.5 million square feet on the campus. Additional tenants have leased another 550,000 square feet since then, according to ICP.

“They were able to provide a vision of how something that was vacant, with tumbleweeds in the parking lot, could turn into something that could be used,” Davis said.

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The former General Motors plant is continuing to see growth. ICP is developing another 375,000 square feet of the facility and the adjacent land.

With an overall investment of more than $700 million, ICP and the new tenants have created approximately 2,300 jobs with an annual payroll of more than $100 million, according to the development company.

“We are now an example to follow on how to bounce back,” Davis said.

The former life of the Upper Valley Pike business park redevelopment

When the Springfield mall closed last June, it had several tenants that were in need of new spaces for their businesses, and Clark County Land Reutilization Corp. Executive Director Ethan Harris said the county worked with the business owners to relocate them. Every business that wanted to remain open following the mall closure was served.

For example, the Bath and Body Works store, a popular business that formerly took up space in the mall, found a new home on Bechtle Avenue, Harris said. In addition, corporate retailer Pretzelmaker will set up shop in downtown Springfield, which Harris said could encourage further development, as other chains may look to that area for future businesses.

Clark County leaders view ICP’s purchase of the property as a second life to a space that has been a part of the community since 1971.

“It reactivates a space that has not been used to its full potential in years,” Harris said.

By the Numbers:

35,000: The number of square feet of spaced leased to the first tenant of the Upper Valley Pike business park

1457: Location on Upper Valley Pike for the business park

2022: Year the first tenant of the business park is expected to move in

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