The Nation’s First Modern Mall Transforms into Mixed-Use Development

The new project has a major residential component, with 850 units planned for the 114-acre site.

By Alexandra Pacurar

Rendering of the proposed Shopping District on the former Northland site
Rendering of the proposed Shopping District on the former Northland site

Southfield, Mich.—The redevelopment of the nation’s first modern shopping mall, Northland Center, is finally shaping up. City officials revealed the preliminary plan for the 125-acre site and, as the Mayor of Southfield announced a few months ago, the proposal is a mixed-use development with a significant residential component.

The new project includes an 850-unit multifamily community, 125-key hotel, and retail and office spaces. The lot will be structured in several districts—lifestyle, shopping, innovation and central park—built around an extensive green area. The preliminary development plan was presented to the Southfield City Council last month by the planning team headed by engineering firm Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment (OHM) of Livonia, Mich.

“The next steps are completing the development standards for the site (almost complete), the review of the Brownfield Analysis Report, release of the request for quotation (RFQ) for developers and review of the qualifications of the 17 companies that responded to an RFQ for demolition services. We are moving systematically right along,” Ken Siver, mayor of Southfield told Commercial Property Executive.

In the meantime, the City of Southfield is still negotiating with Triumph Church for the purchase of the JC Penney building at Northland and the accompanying basement where local officials are planning to build a 1,300-space parking.

“I would say we are close to reaching an agreement. We were told that the agreement would be taken before the Church’s governing body. I hope to wrap this up soon,” Ken Siver said.

The building of the former Hudson store, initially planned for demolition, could be kept because of its historical value.

Northland Center, designed by Austrian architect Victor Gruen, opened in 1954. After several expansion projects, the shopping venue featured as many as one hundred stores. The country’s first modern mall closed six decades later, in April 2015. Shortly after, the City of Southfield got involved in the revival process of this extensive property.

Image courtesy of OHM via