Springfield strip mall getting new life

A long abandoned strip mall on Upper Valley Pike is getting new life, and possibly new tenants as early as this fall.

The former strip mall at 1030 to 1068 Upper Valley Pike lost its last tenant several years ago and had become an eyesore along the corridor, said Argeri Lagos, a Springfield attorney and owner of Spartan Residential Properties LLC. But several upgrades are underway and Lagos said it’s possible the site could be available to new tenants as early as next month.

Lagos purchased the property from a limited liability company called CR Dayton VI in February for about $54,000, according to records from the Clark County Auditor’s Office.

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“I’m excited about this project,” Lagos said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever bought a shopping center that’s been totally empty and tried to turn it around.”

The property has already seen some improvements including a paved parking lot and improvements to patch and stabilize the roof, he said. Lighting has also been added for the parking lot in the evening, and the next step will be painting the facade of the shopping center, he said. A sign at the property is already soliciting potential tenants.

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Local officials said the corridor along Upper Valley Pike is seeing some renewed interest. Along with the shopping center, the Clark County Land Reutilization Corp. has purchased 40 acres of property at the Upper Valley Mall for about $3 million with plans to spark redevelopment.

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The land bank is negotiating a purchase agreement with a potential developer for the property, but nothing has yet been finalized, said Tom Hale, community and economic development director. CVS Pharmacy is also moving forward with a project to build a standalone store on a lot next to the Upper Valley Mall, which will allow for the new location to provide a drive-thru for customers.

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The vacant strip mall is not located in German Twp., but any new business development along the corridor benefits the entire county, said George Degenhart, planning and zoning director for the township. The area has seen some retailers struggle, so he’s optimistic investors are taking another look at properties along Upper Valley Pike.

“We’ve already been at the bottom,” Degenhart said. “We’re starting to come up but how fast we come up has yet to be determined.”

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The shopping center’s previous owners planned to mothball the property, Lagos said. He said his investment includes paying about $118,000 in taxes that had gone unpaid under the previous owners.

He estimated the entire shopping center includes about 38,000 square feet of retail space split into roughly a dozen separate units. The largest of those spaces is about 15,000 square feet, he said. The spaces can easily be remodeled, allowing a wide variety of options for tenants depending on their needs.

“We can accommodate a lot of different users without incurring a lot of construction costs,” he said of the layout.

It’s too early to say what tenants will eventually occupy the shopping center, but Lagos said his preference is to work with local small business owners whenever possible. He said it made sense to take over the project because he grew up nearby and it’s close to his current law office.

“It’s a road that still makes sense,” Lagos said of potential business traffic. “A lot of cars still go by it.”

Even with limited advertising, Lagos said he’s received about 15 calls in the past few days from potential tenants. And he’s involved in one negotiation for a lease for a potential tenant already.

“I am willing to work with tenants to set them up in that space so they succeed,” Lagos said.

The Springfield News-Sun has provided award-winning coverage of retail and business in Clark and Champaing Counties. For this story, the paper spoke to the owner of a vacant commercial property about plans to draw new tenants to the site.

By the numbers:

38,000 — Estimated space available at site

$54,000 — Sale price of property in 2018

$1.5M — Sale price in 2000

Source: Clark County Auditor’s Office

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