The Orchards Mall to be repurposed as apartments, hotel

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - The future of The Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor looks dramatically different than its past.

The Orchards Mall has three main long-vacant spaces for anchor tenants, and the mall management has abandoned all hope of filling those with retail clients.

“You’ve got to think outside the box to make something like this work anymore,” said Christina Castaneda, Administrative Assistant with BEDI and Associates.  “You can’t, it just doesn’t cover the bills to just do retail anymore.  You have to make it something more than just retail.”

Near the space previously occupied by JCPenney, plans call for 116 luxury apartments with two beds and two baths.  The leases would run on six-month intervals in an attempt to attract people who are in town to do business with the likes of Whirlpool. Turn-down maid service would also be offered to tenants.

Inside the old Penney’s store, plans call for a hotel with an unspecified brand or size at this point.  The hotel would include an outdoor pool.

In the space formerly occupied by Sears, plans call for a sports center.

“Because we are in Michigan, so, you know the weather’s not always beautiful outside, so, it’ll be a place where people can come in and play different sports. Hopefully have some batting cages, maybe tennis courts, I heard something about soccer.  So, just indoor sports complex, climate controlled,” added Castaneda.

In the space formerly occupied by Carson Pirie Scott, plans call for indoor, climate-controlled storage rental.

A mall that once had 78 storefronts now has just 17 occupied, mainly with family-style businesses.

“Actually, Katie Couture over there.  Very awesome.  It’s actually owned by a 9-year-old girl.  Her mother, of course, helps her with it.”

The remaining retail stores have been relocated in one portion of the mall and put on notice that they could be displaced by a repurposing project scheduled to start in April and continue through the end of 2022.

“There’s so many people that are hanging on to the way that it used to be,” said Castaneda.  “I mean, you come in and see the pictures on the wall of how it used to be. It’s going to be better than what it used to be. I hope they cherish those memories but also keep an open mind to what the future is going to bring.”

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