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Akron Mayor Tries to Save Chapel Hill Mall

SEARS announced it will leave Chapel Hill Mall this spring. [Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com]

SEARS announced this month it's closing its store in Akron's Chapel Hill Mall due to poor sales. It's following in the footsteps of Macy's which shuttered its department store last year. Now, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan plans to work with local leaders to keep the indoor mall from going under.

After SEARS closes its doors this spring, the Chapel Hill Mall will have just one of its three original anchor stores. Horrigan wants to secure the mall’s long-term future, and that might mean reimagining what it is. He plans to meet with the mall’s owners as well as mayors from neighboring towns soon to brainstorm ideas.

"There are retail trends that obviously municipal governments will not be able to stand in front of, but I think we can start to get creative when you look at land use in and around large areas like that and try to make the best use of it," said Horrigan.

That could mean converting Chapel Hill from an indoor mall to a mixed-use area. Two years ago, planners saved the struggling Parmatown Mall by transforming it into the open-air Shoppes at Parma.

Horrigan says the upcoming meeting is just an initial discussion, but that SEARS’ closing has added urgency to the city's effort to reconsider the Akron mall’s fate.