JCPenney and Macy’s are two anchor stores that are still open at the mall and are planned to remain even in a redeveloped Lakeside district.

JCPenney and Macy’s are two anchor stores that are still open at the mall and are planned to remain even in a redeveloped Lakeside district.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Lakeside tenants say they’re still eager to do business

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2023

 Lakeside Mall’s Shoe Dept. Encore plans to remain as long as possible, according to the store’s manager, Heather Rippin, who added that they will look for another location in the community when the time comes.

Lakeside Mall’s Shoe Dept. Encore plans to remain as long as possible, according to the store’s manager, Heather Rippin, who added that they will look for another location in the community when the time comes.

Photo provided by Heather Rippin


STERLING HEIGHTS — City officials have eagerly expressed their excitement over plans to eventually turn Lakeside Mall into a network of mixed-use neighborhoods. But current Lakeside Mall tenants are reminding the public that they are still in business and are not planning to leave anytime soon.

According to city officials, Lakeside Mall first opened in Sterling Heights in 1976. However, in recent years, changing business and consumer trends have caused the mall to lose tenants.

In November, a majority of the Sterling Heights City Council approved a memorandum of understanding on a plan to redevelop the Lakeside Mall area’s 110 acres into a city center. According to a conceptual design, that area could contain multiple neighborhoods with mixed uses, including retail, office space, park space, a hotel, a community center and more. City officials called the plan a billion-dollar project that’s the result of years of deliberation and planning.

Sterling Heights Finance and Budget Director Jennifer Varney said in November that Lakeside’s taxable value was estimated at $11 million in 2022, but that could increase to over $218 million by 2039 thanks to the redevelopment plan.

Lionheart Capital subsidiary Out of the Box Ventures, which acquired the property in 2019, has previously estimated that the current mall building could face demolition sometime around late 2024 or early 2025, with subsequent construction to take place over the next 12 years or so. Nevertheless, Macy’s and JCPenney are expected to remain as part of the redeveloped Lakeside district.


Stores react
In the meantime, some Lakeside Mall businesses are encouraging shoppers to keep checking out the mall and its tenants — while lamenting that many people mistakenly think the mall is already dead or moribund.

Heather Rippin, the manager of Shoe Dept. Encore, said an estimated 60 stores remain in the mall, and she called them “alive and well.”

However, she said the publicity surrounding Lakeside’s transition has been “very negative” for many remaining tenants. She told the Sentry that recent news coverage of Lakeside’s development plans has wrongly led some people to think that the mall is closing very soon.

She said she frequently has to reassure her own store’s customers that, “No, we’re not closing anytime soon.”

“As managers, we are struggling to bring back customers and struggling to find help to run our business,” she added in an email. “I had a lady yank an application from a family member’s hand and exclaimed, ‘They are closing!’ Others have challenged us saying we shouldn’t advertise we need help when we are closing.”

Rippin said she does what she can to clear up any misinformation, adding that “people usually react very positively, because they feel badly for the tenants that are here.”

Rippin said there are still good happenings and news at Lakeside. She said her customers still like to shop in the mall and are comfortable there. She said the mall still attracts walkers, and she said Macy’s and JCPenney’s ongoing presence also continues to be a good draw.

Carl Ball, the general manager of Lakeside Mall, declined to comment when asked about things the mall is doing to help its tenants thrive during this time.

But Rippin said she has talked to the mall office and added that the mall tries to run special events such as fashion shows or a recent cartoon princess event to bring people in.

“The mall is doing what they can do with what little ammunition they’ve been given,” she said.

Rippin said the community has received her store well, and the store would like to stay at Lakeside as long as possible — until she’s told she has to leave. She said Shoe Dept. Encore hopes, after 2025, to find another location in the community.

“We’re profitable; we won’t be going anywhere, and right now we’re doing all right,” she said.

Meanwhile, Candace Dallo, the manager of Mr. Sam Tailor, inside the mall, said her business is talking to customers and trying to find ways to advertise.

She said she gets asked “all day long” about whether the mall is closing. But she said her business plans to stick it out at the mall as long as possible, adding that the business has been around a long time.

“We have clientele,” she said. “We’ve been here for, like, 35 years, so they know who we are.”

However, she said she would like to see more people come into the mall, and she added that she sees “barely anybody walking in the mall.”

“I’m sad that the mall is closing,” she said. “I’m worried for the other stores in here. They’re retail. They make money from customers walking in the mall and going to buy stuff. It’s just sad seeing that.”

Houssam Hachem, the owner of The Coffee Bureau, said in an email that his business has been in the mall for the past five years. He explained that many of his customers think that the mall will be shut down or torn down soon.

“As a result, we have lost a significant number of customers, despite the fact that there are still 60 stores fully operating in the mall,” Hachem said. “We are eager to attract more people to the mall, but the confusion surrounding the demolition plans has made this difficult.”

More communication to come

Stacy Ziarko, the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO, said she hasn’t directly heard any direct complaints from businesses about the customer traffic situation at Lakeside.

“You do see on social media often empty photos (of the mall),” she said. “But I know there are still retail locations in there that do business. I hope they garner some attention that these places are still open and ready to go.”

When asked how the city can give updates on Lakeside without causing the public to think the mall is imminently closing — thereby causing shoppers to avoid it — Sterling Heights Community Relations Director Melanie Davis replied in an email that there are many pieces to the Lakeside project.

Davis said, “Lakeside Mall is not closing,” and the city doesn’t expect mall operations to change until late 2024 or early 2025.

“Lakeside mall owners Lionheart Capital LLC will be working with current tenants to ensure a smooth transition from this 50-year-old mall to a reimagined development that will solidify the future of Lakeside for the next 50 years or more,” Davis said.

She also described efforts that the city will soon take to clearly communicate about the issue.

“City leadership is working in conjunction with Lionheart, as well as a contracted public relations team, to put together a robust communications plan that will keep tenants, customers and residents updated on developments throughout the project’s duration,” she said.

“Details will be announced within the coming weeks that will allow interested tenants and residents to subscribe to communication channels that will provide them with the most up-to-date, accurate information.”

Learn more about Lakeside Mall, 14000 Lakeside Circle in Sterling Heights, by visiting