Not just the ‘old Salem Mall’? What Trotwood officials are doing to clean up, promote former mall site

The site of the former Salem Mall will undergo cleanup, and Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald said some have already expressed interest in buying the property.

The property has been vacant since the city demolished the mall in 2006. Erik Collins, director of the community and economic development department for Montgomery County, said debris still remains.

The mall opened in 1966 but suffered a decline in the 1990s when two of its anchor stores, JCPenney and Lazarus, closed. Sears remained as a freestanding store.

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Montgomery County and the City of Trotwood have secured a $200,000 federal grant to help with cleanup costs for the 56-acre property, which is currently valued at $200,000. The cleanup will likely cost more than that. McDonald said the city is prepared to use $200,000 of its own funds toward the cleanup.

Fred Burkhardt, executive director of the Trotwood Community Improvement Corp., said the cleanup may take a year or longer.

“We would really like to see this move faster, but projects this big don’t tend to move fast,” he said. “They tend to move at a glacial speed.”

Burkhardt said there are no plans yet for the future of the site because the economy might shift during the cleanup, making it difficult to determine the best use of the land. The city envisions a “mixed-use” development of the land, McDonald said. The city won’t seek a new mall for the site due to declining retail profits.

“It’s an opportunity to revitalize a well-branded area,” she said. “We would be repurposing it well to outlive its current image as the site of the old Salem Mall.”

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The cleanup will provide the city with more real estate, which gives the city more options for future economic development, Burkhardt said.

“This land could allow the city to bring in more jobs or retain existing jobs,” Burkhardt said. “Some cities don’t have a lot of land resources, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage.”

MORE VIDEO: Take a look back at the history of the mall

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