Battle Creek

Voices of Youth: What's next for Lakeview Square Mall?

Editor's Note:  This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's Voices of Youth Battle Creek program which is supported by the BINDA Foundation, City of Battle Creek, Battle Creek Community Foundation, and the Michigan Afterschool Partnership. This series features stories created by Calhoun County youth in partnership with professional mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth.

BATTLE CREEK, MI — Lakeview Square Mall has been a staple of Battle Creek since its opening on August 3, 1983. With a prime location at the crossing between M-66 and I-94, its location is poised to draw not just local shoppers but people passing through. Since the early 2000s, malls across the country have been in decline due to people shopping more online. Nationwide, this trend has been called the "retail apocalypse." With this pressure, many malls have had to adapt to bring people in through new methods.

Businesses like Horrock’s and Barnes and Noble still draw customers to the area, which many consider to be a desirable location.Lakeview Square Mall is no exception to the struggles malls have faced, with big chain stores like Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Sears all leaving the mall in the late 2010s. With all the empty storefronts seen when walking through the mall, it may seem like there is little hope for the struggling business complex. Voices of Youth reached out to the mall manager who declined to be interviewed, as well as a Horrocks manager who did not respond. 

The popular Horrocks Farm Market, which has been in the Battle Creek area for 20 years, moved into the Lakeview Square Mall in early 2023. Horrocks has brought many people into the mall and has a regularly full parking lot. Is this a sign of things to come for other less-developed parts of the mall?

Businesses like Horrock’s and Barnes and Noble still draw customers to the area, which many consider to be a desirable location.Horrocks’ decision to move to the mall was due to the previous location not being large enough for their new deli, says Battle Creek Assistant City Manager in charge of Community and Economic Development, Ted E. Dearing. “The larger footprint of the former J.C. Penney store was ideal for Horrocks based on their desire to significantly expand their offerings (both indoor and outdoor).”  

The mall's large parking lot also provides ample space and expansion opportunities for Horrocks. According to Dearing, this was another factor that brought in Horrocks, with their store expanding the mall to include an outdoor greenhouse section.

The inside of Lakeview Square Mall is also quite empty, a combination of stores losing out to online businesses, and a lack of initiative to keep businesses in the mall. Horrocks is not the only business that considered the Lakeview Square Mall to be a great option, with the physical location having a large factor in its desirability. Dearing says, “The mall location is still one of the most desirable in the community. It is ideally situated at the junction of I-194 and I-94 and accessible to the entire region. The site is visible from the highway making it an attractive retail location and nearby on and off ramps make it easy to get to.” 

The mall’s location inspired discussion and a study to decide on possible investments in the area, from both the city and more businesses moving into the mall, Dearing says.

A look at the empty parking lots of Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek. “Currently, the city is working with a consultant on a plan to reimage the entire Beckley Road corridor with an emphasis on redeveloping the mall," says Dearing. "The addition of storage and Horrocks in recent years has brought new vitality to the site and additional out-lot developments including two potential restaurants will add to the mix. The study should help inform future redevelopment efforts and hopefully spur investment.“

For a large brick-and-mortar space like a mall to thrive, people must visit in person. However, folks are waiting for something new to bring them in. One mall patron approached for comment says they came to the mall with their family to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Before entering the restaurant, the family walked around the mall. When asked what made them choose the mall to eat at they said, “The food options that we had were probably the biggest thing.” 

Businesses like Horrock’s and Barnes and Noble still draw customers to the area, which many consider to be a desirable location.Local teenager, Alivia Carlton, shared her experience and feelings about the Lakeview Square Mall. Carlton has lived in Battle Creek her whole life and has been to the mall many times. “It makes me feel a little disheartened. I know I didn’t live through the mall's prime but I do remember it being more active. I miss when there were more stores and food areas.”

When asked if she would visit the mall to check out a new store, Carlton was emphatic. “Yes, absolutely! I would love to have more places to go into and shop at as well as more options for food.”

While the mall may not be as bustling as it once was, if community interest signifies a positive future, Lakeview Square is on an upward track. Businesses and local individuals alike express their desire for the mall to be a more useful space. As long as new businesses come to the mall, the mall will remain a staple of the Battle Creek area for many years to come and may even become the spot for kids to hang out once more.

Mason Allen
is 17 years old and attends Lakeview High School as a senior. Mason Enjoys running, camping, and playing video games. At the moment he is planning on attending Michigan Tech for Mechanical Engineering following graduation this spring. Mason learned about Voices Of Youth through his friend.

Voices of Youth Mason Allen has been going to the mall since before I can remember with one of the first times being caught in this photograph of me excited to sit on Santa's lap at the mall.

He decided to do the program as a way to learn more about his community and to get paid to share what he found out with others. “I have been going to the mall since before I could remember, I wanted to see what's being done to keep the mall with the times as brick-and-mortar stores struggle due to online retailers.”

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