Flooding at a former Niagara County mall is once again prompting questions about its future, after sitting vacant for more than three years. YNN's Meg Rossman tells us what local leaders would like to see and why the Summit Mall's owner says redevelopment could be just around the corner.
WHEATFIELD, N.Y. — "It was a vibrant mall. It was a wonderful place," Wheatfield Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe said.
One that attracted the attention of businessman Robert Minicucci Sr.
"It was the Summit Park Mall, it was open. The owners were re-doing it; we saw a lot of promise," Minicucci said.
So the president of Health System Services packed up and moved his business to be closer to mall traffic in 2006. But it now sits vacant, under inches of water after sheriff's deputies discovered cracked pipes Monday.
Still, he and others believe there's hope for the Summit Mall.
"Perhaps some mixed use, perhaps some, an entertainment venue."
In fact, that's something town officials discuss on an almost regular basis, discussing ideas similar to Minicucci's. But Cliffe said the only thing that's standing in the way of its redevelopment are the finances.
"I don't know what that mall is worth, but it's probably going to take a few million dollars just to bring it back to life,” he said. "You have to find the person that has the vision for that mall. That can see that in his mind."
While many have, so far mall owner Jim Anthony said none have worked out.
"We've had several different groups put it under contract and then fall out of contract."
Anthony acquired the 850,000 square foot mall in 2004 and has been working to sell it since 2009 when he was forced to close it. But after nine years, he believes there could finally be a light at the end of the tunnel.
"We do have negotiations going on right now with a prospective purchaser for the balance of the property that we own."
He said the unnamed purchaser is looking to turn the property into a mixed-use retail space. But it's not a done deal just yet.
"It is not a hard contract at this point so there is no certainty that it will close, but I can say there is interest."
Whether or not plans will come to fruition remains to be seen, but there are at least two former mall-goers in Wheatfield with their fingers crossed.
"Anything that draws people to area," Minicucci said.