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NOVI, MI-Hoping to take on a vibrant life similar to an open-air mall in Rochester, it appears the Fountain Walk shopping center here may be gasping for air. PLC Novi West Development LLC, which owns the open-air shopping center, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move that could hurt efforts to lease up the property.

Fountain Walk opened two years ago but hasn’t seen the quick success seen at other similar open-air shopping centers or “lifestyle centers” such as the Village of Rochester. Fountain Walk recently added a Hooters restaurant and Lucky’s, a restaurant and billiards club, but is still only about 75% occupied. Second City Andiamo of Novi also plans to build a $7-million dinner theater complex at Fountain Walk. But the center has been slow to attract upscale boutiques and clothing stores.

The Village of Rochester features popular retailers such as Parisian and Pottery Barn, while Fountain Walk has mostly entertainment venues such as Emagine Novi theatre, a skate park and a miniature golf course. It does offer some retailers such as Cost Plus World Market and The Great Indoors.

Fountain Walk’s parent, PLC Novi West Development, filed for bankruptcy in Santa Ana, CA, late last month. PLC Novi is owned by PLC Commercial Inc. in Newport Beach, CA. The company did not return calls for comment.

Fountain Walk’s largest unsecured creditor is Schostak Brothers & Co. Inc. in Southfield, according to the filing in US Bankruptcy Court.It owes Schostak nearly $295,527 for leasing services. It also owes JRPA Architects in Farmington Hills $10,647 for architectural work.

Despite the chapter 11 filing, tenants of the center remain optimistic. Fountain Walk’s Buffalo Wild Wings is the top-grossing site of the chain’s 300 restaurants, says manager Chris Dushane.

Designed to look and feel more like a downtown–with street parking, small parks and private roads–open-air shopping centers are smaller than traditional malls and generally only have a handful of anchor stores.

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