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ROCHESTER HILLS, MI-The Village of Rochester Hills, a 375,000-sf outdoor mall, has opened with much fanfare. The mall, at Adams and University roads, was formerlya small, 120,000-sf indoor mall with no significant anchor and a few restaurants and shops.

Now, the location has been changed through extensive construction to a large outdoor mall, with two anchors and 40 other retailers on both sides of a village-style main street.

Aikens has owned the property for 30 years. Paul Kesman, spokesman for the company, says the developer approached the city in 1991 for plans to develop on the site. However, those plans fell through.

Kesman says the city was under pressure in 1995 and 1996 from some of the neighbors to save the land, and it was rezoned from vacant land to cluster housing.

“That didn’t sit too well with Aikens, so they filed a lawsuit. Four years later, they finally reached a consent judgment,” he says.

The consent judgment was signed in 2000, and had a three-year timetable on development, Kesman says. Aikens stepped up the required 2003 opening date.

The new outdoor mall required road changes and about 1,500 parking spaces. It’s one of the first examples of de-malling, a process of shifting an indoor mall to outdoor use, in the state.

“It’s a trend that’s carrying across the country,” Kesman says. “We’re creating a central business district for Rochester Hills. We’re very confident of success, especially with the amount of interest from retailers.”

The city did not have a Downtown area, preferring to use it’s neighbor, Rochester, and its popular Downtown. However, it remains to be seen how Michigan’s cold winters will affect the customer count at the center.

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