How Adrian Mall in Adrian, MI, is Setting the Stage for a Comeback

The Rise and Fall of Adrian Mall

Adrian Mall, originally opened on September 3, 1970, was a prominent shopping destination in its early years.

Anchor stores such as Sears, F. W. Woolworth Company, and later JCPenney attracted a steady flow of visitors. The mall was a common gathering place in Adrian, Michigan, where people often shop and socialize.

Fast forward to 1985, and the mall got a facelift with a $1.5 million renovation. Elder-Beerman joined the list of anchor stores, and it seemed like the mall was unstoppable. But as they say, what goes up must come down. Over the years, the mall started to lose its charm.

Management changes were frequent, and each new owner had big plans for Adrian Mall. General Growth Properties took the reins in 2002 with hopes of revitalizing the space.

They introduced new stores and organized events, but the mall’s decline was hard to reverse.

CBL & Associates Properties took over in 2008, followed by Jones Lang LaSalle in 2010. Each management team had its vision for the mall, but none could stop the inevitable decline.

The mall was like a puzzle with missing pieces; something was always lacking.

Then came the Tabani Group in December 2014. They purchased the mall with high hopes and even higher plans. Yet, despite their efforts, the mall continued to struggle. Stores were closing, and foot traffic was dwindling. It was clear that a change was needed and fast.

In 2019, Kohan Retail Investment Group became the new owners. They had a reputation for buying struggling malls and turning them around. But even they faced an uphill battle with Adrian Mall. The mall had lost its luster, and bringing it back to life was no easy task.

Ownership changes were like a revolving door, but they didn’t bring the desired results. Each new owner tried, but the mall’s decline seemed irreversible. It was a challenging period, filled with ups and downs, but mostly downs.

Adrian Mall
Adrian Mall

The Decline and Structural Issues

The decline of Adrian Mall wasn’t sudden; it was a gradual process. Stores like Waldenbooks and Sam Goody were among the first to close, signaling the beginning of the end.

Then, in 2013, Sears closed the store, followed by JSPenney in 2015 and Elder-Beerman in 2018. The mall was losing its appeal, and it was evident to anyone who visited.

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But it wasn’t only the loss of stores that led to the mall’s decline. Structural issues played a significant role. Water damage was a major concern, and the roof had severe problems.

These problems were more than cosmetic; they were severe enough to lead to the mall’s condemnation in June 2020.

The mall was closed, and what was once a bustling activity center became a ghost town. It was a sad sight, a stark contrast to the mall’s heyday.

The mall’s decline was a blow to the community. It was more than a shopping center; it was a social hub. Families, friends, and neighbors gathered there, and its closure left a void. It was the end of an era, and the community felt the loss deeply.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the future. What’s in store for Adrian Mall? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Let’s find out.

The Future of Adrian Mall: Redevelopment Plans

Ah, the future! It’s what keeps us going. And guess what? Adrian Mall has a future, and it’s looking bright. The Adrian Planning Commission recently approved the mall’s first phase of planned unit development. So, what does that mean?

Well, for starters, part of the mall will be demolished. The section between Dunham’s Sports and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet/Hobby Lobby end will be torn down.

But don’t worry; it’s all part of a grand plan. The area will be transformed into a boulevard with outdoor seating, parking, and walking space. Sounds exciting.

And there’s more. A Dairy Queen outlet is set to be built between McDonald’s and Buffalo Wild Wings on U.S. 223. Now, who doesn’t love a good ice cream? Dairy Queen is a beloved franchise, and its addition will attract crowds.

But the most significant change is the transformation of the former Elder-Beerman department store. It will become a worship space and community center for NewLife Church.

The church plans to offer a variety of amenities, including an indoor playpark for children and a sensory room. It’s a fresh start for a space that has seen better days.

So, what’s the timeline for all these changes? Demolition could begin sometime this year, and other developments will follow.

It’s a slow and steady process, but the goal is a revitalized Adrian Mall. It’s an ambitious plan that could be a game-changer for the community.

So, are you excited about the future of Adrian Mall? It’s one of the things to do in Adrian, Michigan, and it’s getting a makeover. It’s a new beginning and could be the start of something beautiful.

Adrian Mall
Adrian Mall

Community Involvement and NewLife Church

Community involvement is at the heart of the redevelopment plans for Adrian Mall. Leading the charge is NewLife Church.

They have a history with the mall, having had a location there from Easter 2018 until the mall was closed due to structural issues. Now, they’re back with big plans.

The church aims to be more than a place of worship; it wants to be a community hub. They plan to offer a community center open to the public, an indoor play park for children, a sensory room, and more. It’s an ambitious plan that could bring much-needed life back to the mall.

NewLife Church has a history of community involvement. They opened on January 29, 2016, at the HOPE Community Center in Adrian and have moved to various locations in Lenawee County. Now, they’re setting their sights on Adrian Mall and have big plans.

The church’s involvement is key to the mall’s redevelopment plans. They aim to catalyze change, bringing new energy and life to the mall. It’s a tall order, but if anyone can do it, it’s NewLife Church.

So, what’s the end goal? NewLife Church plans to rename itself NewLife Commons and aims to be at the forefront of community involvement. It’s a bold move that could pay off in the long run.

The Challenges and Road Ahead

The Adrian Mall’s redevelopment proposal is a comprehensive and multi-faceted plan to transform the space into a mixed-use facility.

Beyond merely replacing retail spaces, it envisions a community-centric approach that includes multifamily residential housing or condominiums.

These residences will be situated around the mall’s exterior, creating a neighborhood feel adjacent to structures like the Hampton Inn & Suites.

The plan also includes diverse commercial elements, such as anchor business tenants and various retail and dining options.

Interestingly, a self-storage facility is proposed for the former JCPenney location, adding another utility layer. Overall, the plan aims to make the mall a more integrated part of the community, offering a blend of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces.


The story of Adrian Mall is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The mall has seen everything from its opening in 1970 to its closure in 2020.

It’s been a hub of activity, a social gathering spot, and a symbol of community. But it’s also faced challenges, from management changes to structural issues.

There’s hope and excitement as we look to the future. The Adrian Planning Commission has approved ambitious redevelopment plans, and the community is buzzing with anticipation. NewLife Church is leading the charge, aiming to transform the mall into a community hub.

It’s a new chapter in the story of Adrian Mall, and it promises a bright future. The journey is far from over, and the best is yet to come. It’s a new beginning, and it could change the face of Adrian, Michigan, forever.

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Comments: 4
  1. Avatar of Jean Moore Burwell
    Jean Moore Burwell

    I was a ten year employee with SuperX
    Drugs (1976-1986) located across from SEARS. Moved away from Adrian, Michigan to Florida in July 1986. I return every year to visit family still living in Adrian.
    Sad to see the MALL going downhill.
    Hopefully it can still make a “Come-Back”.
    Thank you for sharing this article.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience with SuperX Drugs and Adrian Mall! It’s always great to hear from someone connected to the place. I understand your concerns about the mall’s current state, and also hopeful for its bright future.

  2. Avatar of Renee m
    Renee m

    I think the plan stinks. We needed a mall not another place of worship or a dairy queen. We loved Adrian mall.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for your thoughts on Adrian Mall. Clearly, the mall held a special place in the community, and its transformation is a point of contention. It’s disappointing when a beloved space doesn’t evolve in the way the community hopes. However, change is constant, and this new direction may offer unexpected benefits.

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