Timetable for Shenango Valley Mall closing unclear for tenants

Apr. 19—HERMITAGE — Despite publicized plans to demolish the Shenango Valley Mall later this year, the mall's remaining tenants say they've received little to no information from the mall's owners.

And with the announcement of "Farewell to the Mall" on May 4, which encourages the public to "Join us for the last day of shopping at the Shenango Valley Mall," some store managers — such as Carrie Necastro with King's Jewelry — want the public to know they'll be open well into May.

"May 4 is not our last day. We'll be open as long as we can be here," Necastro said.

One of the mall's oldest tenants, the family-owned King's Jewelry first opened its Hermitage location in 1968, the same year the mall opened.

However, since Butterfli Holdings LLC bought the mall in 2022, Necastro said the company has communicated with the mall's tenants only a few times.

"We got a letter about a year and a half ago that told us where to send rent checks, and we got a letter on Tuesday that said to be out by May 31," Necastro said.

Butterfli Holdings, an affiliate of Cleveland-based developer Flicore LLC, plans to demolish the mall later this year and redevelop the property, city officials have said.

The city plan to capitalize on that redevelopment as part of a planned town center project, which would create a mixed-use commerical and residential development area around the property.

The mall sits on about 40 acres at the northeast corner of East State Street and North Hermitage Road in the center of the commercial district. Before the mall, the late George F. McConnell had purchased the property about 75 years ago as a dairy farm. An adjacent open field of about another 20 acres to its north has been mentioned for development potential, too.

None of those redevelopment plans by Butterfli Holdings, or how it would affect the mall's tenants, were shared so far, Necastro said.

Vince Hillard, who co-owns Leana's Books and More with his wife Leana, agreed that there has been no discussion between the mall's ownership and tenants over the closures or the property's future.

"The only thing we received was a letter a couple weeks ago saying our lease would be terminated on May 31," Vince said.

The issue was made more difficult for the mall's tenants when organizers of "Farewell to the Mall" recently announced that event, Necastro said.

Organized by the newly formed Hermitage Small Business Group, the event invites vendors and visitors to gather at the mall on May 4 to browse and reminisce over memories of the mall.

Group member and business owner Summer Wise previously said organizers considered holding the event in June, but Flicore officials offered the May 4 date instead.

Hermitage Director of Business and Community Development Mark Longietti said Friday that May 4 may have been mischaracterized as the mall's last day of business, but that the business' month-to-month leases will not end until May 31.

Longietti said he has met periodically with the mall's tenants to discuss the situation and share resources to assist those tenants looking to remain in Hermitage.

"As I understand it, some tenants have opted to close before the May 31 time frame, and others will stay open through that date," Longietti said.

In the case of King's Jewelry, Necastro said the store will remain open as long as possible, then eventually move to a new location in Hermitage at 2220 E. State St., at Concord Road, which is still being renovated.

Vince said Leana's Books and More will also remain open for the near future, although staying open through May 31 will depend on continued support by customers.

Whenever the Shenango Valley Mall location closes, Vince said the bookstore will be transferred to a new location at Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio, with updates posted to its "Leana's Books" Facebook page.

"We have a really solid customer base here. The people have been awesome over the years," Vince said.

Depending on what the Shenango Valley Mall property looks like post-demolition and renovation, some businesses hope to return to the area.

Necastro said King's Jewelry's owners initially tried reaching out to Butterfli officials in order to be a part of that new vision, but never received a response.

Necastro added that she also disagreed with the Farewell to the Mall event, due to both the misconception that King's Jewelry and the other mall tenants would be closing after May 4 and the idea of bringing outside vendors to the mall.

"I thought it was rude to bring in vendors and outside food trucks, meanwhile all of the tenants here have been paying rent and paying taxes," she said.

Vince said he understood the contrasting viewpoints over Farewell to the Mall, since some mall tenants view the event as an end, while others view it as a new beginning.

If the planned redevelopment allows it, Vince said he and his wife would like to bring a Leana's Books and More location back to Hermitage one day.

"We're from this area and we want nothing but good things to come here, so we're hoping something new and better comes to occupy the space," Vince said.

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