by Susan Mikula Campbell
There was joy in Wheatfield Town Hall this week at the "coming soon" possibility of a new, active Summit Park Mall.
Zoran Cocov, a Toronto developer, said Tuesday that his attorneys may have the purchase finalized by the end of the week, ending almost two years of negotiations with current owner Oberlin Plaza One LLC.
Bon-Ton, Save-A-Lot and Sears, all with exterior entrances, have continued to operate and draw customers to the Williams Road mall. However, the deteriorating interior has been closed for years and has been plagued with thefts, weather damage and broken pipes. The mall was built in 1972 and used to be a busy and active part of the community.
"It sure will be nice to see that mall looking alive again," Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe said at the Monday Town Board meeting, adding with a smile, "I'd almost settle for just fixing the parking lot."
Cocov said his first step will be securing the building so there is no further vandalism. He expects it will take National Grid about six to eight months to bring back the transformers removed when the interior of the mall closed and to complete studies and reports.
"We won't know the extent of the damage until we are able to turn on the lights internally," he said, noting that he hopes to know about interior damage and have an estimate for capital repairs by the end of the year. It is a high-risk investment, but he intends to make it a success.
He said it was too early to discuss possible use of the mall.
"I'll certainly listen to the community and what they'd like to see there," he said. "Hopefully we will make it become the active place that it once was."
The mall will be Cocov's first U.S. property, although he has several throughout southern Ontario.
"I see Niagara Falls as a destination for tourists. It just happens to have a border," he said.