PIQUA — The former Miami Valley Centre Mall has been renamed The Piqua Center, located at 987 E. Ash St., Piqua, following the purchase of the property by Chicagoan Saul Zenkevicius and his business partner Rafik Moore in early March of 2023.
The business partners are real estate developers with Caspian Group, a Minnesota based real estate investment company, and when the project began about a year ago, they were looking into properties between Cincinnati and Columbus because of the numerous prospects in the area. According to Zenkevicius, the pair were looking in Ohio because the real estate is not overpriced with a lot of good commerce when they came across the Miami Valley Centre Mall and saw a lot of potential in the location.
Zenkevicius and Moore have worked on similar projects on smaller calibers than the 500,000-square-foot property in Piqua. As with their other similar projects, the two hope to help stabilize and bring more tenants to the facility.
“We partnered with Bruns Construction. Bruns Construction is a multi-generation company who know the area and construction very well and we came in with the knowledge in terms of how to provide good space, probably superior quality space, to the community for a fraction of the cost,” said Zenkevicius. “In a nutshell, it was the perfect asset in a perfect location that just needed to be re-imagined in how it can be used.”
The business pair believes it is unlikely they will be able to bring national retail stores such as JC Penny or Sears back to the location, but they hope that by creating connections with local businesses those owners will bring their businesses to The Piqua Center and help make it a vibrant, bustling location again.
The group believes there is a need for affordable space for specialty vendors, new food concepts and local entrepreneurs to test new concepts and grow into larger footprints in the Piqua Center. Having an innovation center at the heart of the building will help drive excitement, community engagement, and ultimately make The Piqua Center a lively and exciting place for commerce, sports and entertainment.
Zenkevicius has high hopes for the location and what types of tenants they can bring to the facility. One tenant came with the business pair when they initially purchased the property, Las Marias, a Mexican restaurant. Las Marias has already begun the build-out in the facility right next to Dunham’s.
While the final concept and layout plans are still in the works, Zenkevicius shared his vision for the facility. A tentative plan includes approximately five food vendors located where the food court was in the Miami Valley Centre Mall; a family entertainment center, which Zenkevicius hopes will include entertainment like bounce houses and rock climbing in the area next to the Comfort Inn mall entrance where Cinemark Miami Valley was before the theater separated from the mall in 2008; he also imagined a bar or other similar establishment.
Surrounding the food vendors and entertainment areas, as stated previously, they plan to have retail and boutique establishments, mostly local businesses. Zenkevicius did state that at least one of the national retailers currently operating in the mall, Bath & Body Works and The Buckle, will remain and will be moved closer to the entrance and food court to help give the facility a less empty feeling as the team works to bring in more retail and boutique establishments.
“We are looking for as many local businesses to come in,” said Zenkevicius. “We are already having conversations with a few folks. We have that axe throwing place, we have a spa and nail salon who we’re talking to. That’s still on the conversation level, but definitely, it’s coming.”
As for the former Sears and Elder Beerman locations in the mall, Zenkevicius noted those areas will be used for e-commerce and storage for the smaller local businesses due to the large doors and loading dock areas.
According to Zenkevicius, they business pair hopes to unveil their master plan in the next two months and hope to be close to 100% occupancy in the next two years.
“First of all, I want to say that the community is really, really supportive. In the beginning, when we started this project we started just looking at Google reviews and talking to some people and it seemed like there was a lot of frustration about the mall, people were reminiscent of how good it was back in the day,” said Zenkevicius. “After talking to people, actually people were very supportive of any change that would come in and be substantial change and become again a vibrant mall and a center where people can come in and connect.”
“I believe this will, in two or three years, be one of the main centers in Piqua. Where people can come in, have fun, have great food and drinks, they can go shop. It will create a lot of opportunity for small start-ups or boutique shops to do their commerce and to sell their business and products,” said Zenkevicius. “We’re really trying to make this as local and as dear to the community’s heart as possible.”
Zenkevicius, Moore and their partner from Bruns Construction, Randy Bruns, will be hosting an Open House in partnership with the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, April 20.