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New Owner Will Reopen Closed Mall

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New Owner
Will Reopen
Closed Mall

By Jim Norman


A local architect is buying the West-
gate Shopping Center and planTTo
reopeft-fchc^tftd-WorTd Village Mall
there with small shops.

He is Donald E. Van Curler, the
Ti '•.:•' " Van Curl. ' n-iates arch-
, nd a princi; er of Flying
Dutchman Management, Inc.

Signing of a final sales agreement
with Westgate's present owner — an
investment group of 22 predominantly
local figures represented by Ann Ar-
bor Trust Co. — is scheduled March

Van Curler declined to disclose the
purchase price.

e,i ,,^ars ago the investor group

• , ;.. :-,;>.'.• oi lhi'1 SOUth •

•ckson Road and Sta-
diui;; b^iiu^.Jra for $2.5 million from
its developer, John McMullen.

Major tenants in the 155,000-
square-foot shopping center are S.S.
Kresge, Kroger and a Cunningham
Drug Store. Free standing buildings
in the deal include a Bill Knapp's res-
taurant and a service station.

The 70,000-sqiuare-foot Old World
Village Mall has been vacant since
mid-December when Lansing promot-
er Alan H. Ginsburg closed the falter-
ing small business bazaar.

Several dozen small enterprises
were left shopless at the peak of the

'ias buying season because of
" sing, which came one year aft-
er the mall opened in late 1975.

The large retail space had been
built as an anchor to the shopping cen-
ter but has had a dismal record as a
site for discount department stores-
first Arlan's, then Rink's Bargain
| City. \

| first

j Van Curler says he is negotiating
t -with several parties interested in using
i -part of the Old World building, in-
deluding the Washtenaw County
^ Department of Social Services and the

I* would-bc '"i-al proprietor of a True,
Value H; Store.

'Today ^s'


change. But that may be hindered by
a city sign ordinance that would ban
replacement of the existing Old World
marquis without city approval.

Van Curler's one-third partner in
the purchase is Ray Gellain of St.
Clair. Gellain is also involved with
Van Curler in Flying Dutchman Man-
agement, which '"i^ "wratp West-

News of the pending shopping cen-
ter sale comes as Kroger, a key ten-
ant, is seeking city pi approval
for a 33 per cent exp; its store

Anthony Jablonski, Kroger real es-
tate manager in Detroit, says the ex-
pansion is essential to keep the food
store competitive in the west side

The A&P across Jackson Road at
Mar •°;e is getting ready to open
its 'on and Chatham has an-
nounced plans to go ahead with a
store at the oartially-built Stadium
Row shoppin site nearby.

The Kroger cxpunoion would enlarge
the existing store to the north and

' giving it a major face-lift, says

Its size would increase from 30,000
square feet to 40,000 square feet.

Jablonski says extensive landscap-
ing is planned and the improvements
are scheduled to be completed this

The Kroger store was one of the
first retail establishments opened at
Westgate when McMullen, the owner
of the Briarwood Hilton began build-
ing the shopping center.

Jablonski says Kroger is looking to
possibly expand its other Ann Arbor
stores soon.

for use as small stiops similar to me
Old World format, Van Curler says.

Depending on the sizes of the
booths, that would mean 45 to 70
small stores operating in the mini-
mall area, once designed for more
than 200 stalls. -;

Month-to-month rentals on the
booths would be similar to lease rates
under Ginsburg of about $1.50 per
square foot per month including .utili-
ties, says Van Curler.

Already Va" Oirler says "he has had
more than 4; r Old World ten-
ants inquire abuui taking space in a
I mini-mail.

"The problem will be sorting out
the people we want to be in there,"
Van Curler says.

"We will want proof of their ability
to stay in business," Van Curler says,
noting the high mortality rate of new
ventures in the former mini-mall due
to lack of inventory, financial backing
and generaljbusiness ability.

"The idea isn't too bad, but there
were some people there before who
shouldn't have been in business, "^
says Van Cyr1""* aoiie.iaq' yS ^|M

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