The legacy and future of Lakeside Mall

Detroit Free Press business reporter JC Reindl joined the show this week to discuss both the mall’s history and the future of the site.

Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights closed its doors for good on July 1, 2024.

Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights closed its doors for good on July 1, 2024.

After nearly half a century operating in Sterling Heights, Lakeside Mall closed its doors for good this week.

Detroit Free Press business reporter JC Reindl joined The Metro this week to discuss the mall’s legacy and the future of the site.

Lakeside opened in 1976 and quickly became more than just a shopping destination. It was a community hub where patrons enjoyed several experiences, including Michigan’s first indoor tubular waterslide. 

However, like many malls across the country, Lakeside faced challenges in recent years with the rise of online shopping, competition from nearby malls and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With Reindl’s research into the Lakeside mall, he discovered surveys from back in the 1980s where he discovered why the mall was so popular. 

“A lot of people have strong emotional connections to Lakeside Mall.” Reindl said. “There wasn’t really a downtown to Sterling Heights, so it really was you know, the center of gravity for the community.” 

In addition to its retail stores, the mall was filled with activities including several ice skating rinks, waterparks, play structures and more.

With the closing of Lakeside Mall, developers are planning to redevelop the site into the Lakeside Town Center, which will consist of  mixed-use retail space, residences, parks, office spaces, restaurants and other non-retail offerings.

“They hope to break ground in late 2025,” Reindle said. “And there would be some apartments, there would be some new retail to drive up retail, not traditional walk into a mall type retail, some office space, even a hotel.”

Reindl says the future of malls as a whole are in question with the decrease of in-person shopping. But, he says while malls may never be as popular as they once were, there will always be a need for a physical place to shop.

“Yeah, I don’t have a crystal ball. But my gut tells me that there will always be a market for some malls,” he said. “Somerset seems like it’s doing fairly well. You know, I think people still want to go someplace physical and shop. You know, it’s covered, you can kind of go there year-round. But we’re obviously not going to have as many miles as we did in, say, 1985.”

Listen to the full interview with Reindl below, starting at the 42:13 mark.

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