Detroit-Area Shopping Center Goes From Nation’s Oldest Mall To Nation’s Newest Dead Mall

Northland Center - the nation's oldest shopping mall - is set to close. (Google Street View)

Northland Center – the nation’s oldest shopping mall – is set to close. (Google Street View)

If you spend much time on Consumerist, then you’re probably aware of the current sad state of the world’s malls; from the former largest mall in the world being demolished to those full of fish or snow covered, it isn’t exactly a pretty picture. Today, we learn that another historic shopping center will soon trade in its purported title as the nation’s first regional shopping mall for that of the latest “dead mall.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that Northland Center Mall in Southfield, MI, will soon close its doors for good after a county judge determined there were no alternative options for the center.

The judge’s decision to shut down Northland Center – which is estimated to be losing $250,000 a month – came at the request of the mall’s court-appointed receiver, who took over the center after it defaulted on a $31 million loan last year.

Northland Center set up shop as an open-air concept mall in 1954. At that time, it was considered to be the world’s largest shopping mall. In the mid-’70s, it was expanded and enclosed.

But since the early 2000s, the mall has struggled to stay afloat as popular chains left for other shopping centers.

According to the Free Press, things for the mall have only gotten worse. Last month the Target store closed and current anchor – Macy’s – is expected to close sometime in March.

Additionally, the mall’s receiver says the center has about $3 million worth of unpaid bills, including $700,000 in overdue water bills. And he says that the small number of remaining tenants – which will likely receive 30-day eviction notices soon – often fail to pay rent.

Although no closure date has been announced, the acting mayor of Southfield tells the Free Press that he was told the building will be cleared out and boarded up by late April.

One of the building’s current – and oldest – tenants, an optometry shop, says the closure comes at a terrible time.

“It’s strange. We’ve been doing so well, and the mall has been doing so poorly,” said the shop’s owner.

Judge approves plan to close Northland Center mall [The Detroit Free Press]