City will honor leases of all mall tenants for next 3 years

FairOaks Mall, a retail center on Columbus’ north side for nearly three decades, is facing a new future under new ownership expected by December.

It has been losing tenants and market share over the past decade, with about 35 percent of its roughly 50 business spaces active.

What the retail footprint will look like after the City of Columbus and Columbus Regional Health complete their acquisition of the 35.36-acre property is uncertain. However, all leases in place for at least the next three years will be honored, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said.

The public-private partnership is planning to repurpose the property to include the new home of the city’s parks and recreation department, health and wellness space, an indoor recreation center and an indoor sports complex.

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According to a sale agreement with New Fair Oaks Owner LLC, the city intends to honor all current tenant leases for the next three years. However, tenants would be able to get out of their deals earlier if they choose.

Seventeen businesses operate in the mall, which opened in 1990. That includes:

One anchor tenant: Dunham’s Sports

Two full-service restaurants: Mark Pi’s and Riviera Maya

Two small, fast-food vendors: Carlos Pizza and Special Dogs & More (the latter of which is about to move)

Two shoe stores

A couple of novelty/clothing shops

A nail salon

An eyebrow threading salon

A hair care business

Non-retail tenants include Cummins Inc., located in the former Goody’s clothing store location, one of the mall’s original four anchor stores, and the Harlequin Theatre.

Two other former anchor spaces, JCPenney and Carson’s are empty. JCPenney closed in July 2017, and Carson’s closed April 29 of this year.

Cummins began leasing 25,000 square feet in the mall in 2011. The former Goody’s location filled a need to find a place for some clusters of employees, said Brad Manns, Cummins’ executive director of global integrated services — facilities.

Currently, 120 employees work in the space, representing a design and drafting group from the Engine Business and an information technology security team, Manns said.

Cummins likely will fulfill its lease at the mall, which runs through 2021, before employees move to other campus sites around the city, Manns said.

One possible destination for some or all could be the renovated Corporate Office Building downtown, although no determinations have been made, Manns said.

The COB is being renovated in two phases. Phase 1, the south end of the building, will be completed in 2019. Phase 2, which is the north end, will be finished in 2020, Cummins spokeswoman Katie Zarich said.

Manns said he was notified of the city’s plans to forge a partnership to buy the mall property and repurpose it.

He said it was a pleasant surprise because Cummins was worried that the mall would shut down.

“An adaptive reuse of a declining retail center in the core of the city that brings activity and meets a community need and uproots blight are all wins,” Manns said.

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A list of active businesses in FairOaks Mall:

Bath & Body Works


Carlos Pizza

Creative Threads

Cummins Inc.

Dunham’s Sports

Fun Times arcade

Harlequin Theatre

Hometown Shoe market

Mark Pi’s China Gate

Music & More

Nirvana (2 spaces)

Payless Shoes

Percenell Touch (kiosk)

Riviera Maya

Silky Nails

Special Dogs & More

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A list of the FairOaks Mall Grand Opening stores 28 years ago:

Allied Sporting Goods

BoRics (hairstyling)

The Canary and the Elephant (accessories, handbags)

County Seat (casual wear)

Deb (fashions for women)

El Bee Shoes

Fanny Mae Candies

Footlocker Shoes

The Galleria (furniture)

General Nutrition Center

Isgrigg Diamond Center

Kay Bee Toys

Kirlin’s Hallmark (cards and gifts)

Man Alive (clothing for men and boys)

Maurice’s (clothing store)


Poretti’s Pizza

The Season Ticket (sporting goods)

Sega’s Timeout (family fun center)

Shifrin Jewelers

Shoe Sensation



J.C. Penney

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1990: FairOaks Mall premieres on a 35.36-acre parcel that formerly served as the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds. When it opened in August, the mall boasted better than a 60 percent occupancy rate. The original mall owners were the Southfield, Mich.-based Schostak Brothers & Co.

1992: In addition to anchor stores Elder-Beerman, JCPenney and Kmart, FairOaks announced it had more than 35 restaurants and specialty shops.

2003: The property is sold to New Jersey-based Fair Oaks Mall Acquisition LLC for an undisclosed sum.

2009: The Goody’s department store chain files for bankruptcy in 2009 and closes its stores, including the FairOaks location. Cummins Inc. would later lease the space.

2013: After the mall goes into foreclosure, an entity known as Columbus Noteholder LLC bought the mortgage and took over rights to collect rent from existing leases. The investment group is associated with GJ Realty, a company with offices on West 37th Street in Manhattan, New York


An entity called New Fair Oaks Owner LLC received a deed in lieu of foreclosure for the mall site “for the sum of $10 and other good and valuable consideration.” The disclosure form listed a sales price of $550,000.

Within a two-week span, Sears Holdings Corp. makes separate announcements in January that it will close both the Kmart at FairOaks and the Sears store in downtown Columbus.

2015: New anchor tenant Dunham’s Sports opens in the space vacated by Kmart.

2017: Anchor tenant JCPenney closes in late July.


Carson’s announces it will close April 29. The department store operated as Elder-Beerman, also a Bon-Ton Stores brand, until changing its name six years ago.

The City of Columbus and Columbus Regional Health partner to purchase the mall property for $5.9 million from New Fair Oaks Owner LLC. The sale, expected to be completed in December, includes $450,000 from Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County