Who says old shopping malls are dead? Lots of people do. The Mall Of Monroe, located just south of Detroit, Michigan, is giving lie to that assumption in a big way. For the first time in 10 years, all of the large “anchor store” spaces are going to be filled with new tenants. It’s a critical milestone in a metamorphosis that has been underway for several years. It is a tale of dramatic transformation from a traditional, albeit underused, retail center into a true mixed-use community center.
The newest development at The Mall Of Monroe involves a space formerly occupied by a Sears store. Recently, the Frenchtown Charter Township Planning Commission approved the sale of that 78,786 square foot space to Cubesmart. The owners of this business will invest $4 million to transform the building into an indoor, climate-controlled self-storage facility. It will open for business later this year.
In the fall, Ragnarok Supply Company and Ragnarok Motorworks will welcome its first customers in a space that at one time was home to a JCPenney, then a Pat Catan’s store. Ragnarok will use the 51,393 square feet of space to provide outdoor supplies to customers and to customize vehicles for off-road and specialized uses. It is owned by Jacob James, a local entrepreneur who also operates Leviathan from spacious offices at the mall. Leviathan is a company that creates specialized prop weapons for Hollywood movie-makers, television and theatrical producers. Its marketing division does a booming business of product placement within the video gaming industry.
In what used to be a Carson’s department store, Domka Outdoors will open in early May. Its owners, David Domka and Erin Aubrecht, are relocating to the 56,801 square foot space from a smaller location in the area. Domka Outdoors specializes in outdoor provisions attuned to the needs of archery and fishing devotees. There’s even an indoor archery range for sharpening skills.
Another space formerly occupied by Carson’s is now a house of worship. Monroe City Church has a growing, vibrant congregation in a 42,000 square foot space. Hundreds of people flock to its Sunday service every week.
For many years, Target owned and operated a nearly 97,000 square foot store connected to the mall. That huge piece of property is now owned by Quality Auto Parts, a Detroit automotive components distribution business.
While the large spaces have been filling up, so have the smaller stores inside the mall. Flashback Antiques and Gifts recently moved to a new location, more than doubling in size. That made space available for the new Wonderworld Comics, which is about to open. So is a new location for Custom Designs by Amu and Ani, twice as large as its current store. The Monroe Community Players are finishing renovations to a new theater space, while their old location is now home to an expanded Color Beauty Supply. For anyone seeking real, homemade Mexican cuisine, Katalina’s Kitchen is coming soon.
Entertainment and physical fitness have become a staple at this former shopping mall. Pillar Performance, Planet Fitness, Family & Friends Funland and Ulekstore’s Pinball Arcade each attracts a loyal clientele. Phoenix Theatres is arguably the most technologically advanced cinema facility in the region, drawing movie-lovers from more than 30 miles away.