Local group looking to revive Heritage Park Mall
By Jeff Harrison
Heritage Park Mall may open for business once again.
A local group is working with the property owner to remodel and reopen the shuttered mall near Air Depot Blvd. and Reno Ave.
SRM Global Partners LLC plans to open the mall as a multicultural economic development center. The concept would include a variety of retail tenants, restaurants and community events.
The Oklahoma City group believes their plan could turn the mall into a cultural center for the community and serve as an incubator for small businesses. They say the multicultural economic development model has been successful in revitalizing malls around the country.
Heritage Park Mall has largely sat vacant since it closed in 2010. LifeChurch transformed the Dillard’s store on the west end into their Midwest City campus. Sears closed this summer. Much of the mall is owned by Ahmad Bahreini, who bought the mall in 2011.
The building has suffered damage in recent years, largely due to leaks in the roof. Bahreini has been working to repair the roof and other issues. He has received numerous code violations for issues with fire suppression system, improper storage of hazardous materials and vehicles among others. Many of those issues are related to the Montgomery Ward’s building on the north side of the mall.
City leaders have been pressing Bahreini to bring the building into compliance and find a future use for it. The city hired a consultant to develop a market feasibility study for the property. The study, which was released in Spring, outlined potential uses and configurations for the property. Bahreini told the council that he did not have money to develop any of the proposals.
Sharina Killingsworth with SRM Global Partners spoke at a city council meeting in May about their interest in the property.
The group recently created a Facebook page for Heritage Park Mall and their plans. The page has generated a lot of buzz in the community.
Robert Coleman, economic development director, said the city is interested in seeing the mall redeveloped and have met with SRM Global Partners about their ideas. He said neither the group nor Bahreini have presented any specifics in writing.
“No one is rooting against the mall, including the city council. But we’re still not sure the direction the owner is taking,” Coleman said.
To move forward with the project, Coleman said the building must meet all code requirements. Each tenant would be required to receive a certificate of occupancy for their space.
SRM Global Partners say the project will be divided into two phases. The group will initially focus on the center common area and west end of the mall. The second phase would include the east end.
“We want to white box the interior and have a clean look,” Killingsworth said. “We will keep all of the natural stones and woods inside and the rest will be painted white. And the tenants will build out their spaces.”
SRM Global Partners has previously worked with Plaza Mayor in south Oklahoma City. The current owners bought the property in 2011 with plans to make it a Hispanic retail destination. In August 2016, SRM Global Partners was brought in to handle leasing and marketing and advance a multicultural concept. The group said they were successful in landing tenants for the mall, but the ownership chose to abandon the multicultural concept after three months.
The group hopes to attract several tenants from Plaza Mayor to Heritage Park Mall.
SRM Global Partners would like to host an open house event this winter and reopen the mall in spring.
I am rooting for the mall to reopen, and I like the idea of housing small businesses…would you consider a place crafters to meet as well? Like woodworking, ceramics, quilting, sewing, yarnworks? I would like to be on that committee please…
Great. Great news
Because of the mall bringing chain stores into MW City, our local merchants were driven out of business. Then the big box stores brought lower prices which finalized the death of locally owned and operated small businesses and the mall.. If the rent can be kept in line (which is hard in a mall where the whole common area requires heating and air) maybe local people who actually live here will find a viable business climate. People still like to gather, mix, and shop while mingling. The mall can provide that social factor which the box store and the Internet can’t. Hopefully we can have the mall back if it is profitable. One problem that killed our mall was the gathering go gang types there.