Column: Condition of mall a sad state of affairs
I got a text message Saturday afternoon letting me know about a mess at the Northland Mall. Sadly, there was absolutely no reason to be surprised.
Upon arriving at the mall and walking through the doors that lead to Northland Cinema 5, the scene before me wasn’t pretty. A considerable portion of the floor was soaked with water, and there were several scattered buckets that had been placed to catch leaks. Ceiling tiles above me had given way. A lone man with a shop vacuum was working to dry the place up, and I couldn’t help thinking that — chances are — he’ll be back again before too long.
What’s happened at the mall in the last few years is a sort of tragedy, really. When I arrived here in the spring of 2001, the place still had a fairly good occupancy rate even though the KMart was already gone. Now, of course, the mall is home to merely a handful of businesses, and the physical condition of the facility can be deemed as hazardous — particularly in the wake of last weekend’s mishap.
The state of the mall isn’t going unnoticed in the community — far from it. Pictures of the mall Saturday afternoon were scattered on Facebook, and there was plenty of commentary, too — none of it favorable. And, I’ve got to say that more people ask me about the future of the mall than other Worthington storyline that has been in the news during the past several months. Most people say something to the effect of, “How come the city isn’t doing anything about the mall?”
Well, I have been told by multiple city officials that the necessary legal steps are being taken to essentially wrest control of the mall from its owner — a man who not only has done virtually nothing in upkeep for the property, but also owes a considerable amount in back taxes. I’m no expert on the law by any means, but why can’t this person simply be arrested and brought to justice? It seems unjust that some one could purchase a property, subsequently ignore all responsibility of ownership, yet continue to collect rent from hapless tenants.
I feel sorry for people who continue to operate businesses inside the mall — particularly the movie theater, where there were wet sections cordoned off Saturday afternoon and water-catching buckets strewn about the entrance and snacks areas. Certainly these folks deserve better than what they’re getting. So does the rest of Worthington, for that matter.