Hummels Wharf, Pa. – A local realty company is eyeing up the former Bon-Ton department store at Susquehanna Valley Mall for senior housing.
Al Lagerman, managing partner for D&C Realty of Shamokin Dam, said the company pitched the idea recently at a Monroe Township supervisors meeting. “We had a vision for a while now for helping the mall to create a plan,” Lagerman said, adding that the mall has been losing retail stores.
“There’s also a need for senior housing in Snyder County,” Lagerman added. The realty company’s proposal would be for a one-story senior housing complex that would include 40 to 50 units. The former Bon-Ton is roughly 90,000 square-feet.
Lagerman said the proposal is in the early stages, and “lots of approvals are needed yet.” Those approvals would have to come from Monroe Township, mall management, and the federal government.
“It’s a great use of the building,” said Margie Deppen, manager at Susquehanna Valley Mall.
The company would also have to obtain construction permits. Because the plans are in the early stages, Lagerman doesn’t have a timeline or estimated date when the project would be complete.
D&C Realty and Family Practice Center are run by the same owners. Family Practice Center, of which Lagerman is CEO, currently has offices at the former Sears store. Residents of the proposed senior housing units would have access to the medical offices, as well as retail stores, a movie theater, and restaurants at the mall.
The idea of turning vacant mall stores into senior housing is not new. Malls, once dominant shopping sites across the United States, have been dying out as retailers leave for strip malls or close brick and mortars in favor of online commerce.
In October 2020, The New York Times reported on a former mall in Wayzata, Minn., that was turned into senior housing units. A shopping mall in Irondequoit, N.Y., also had plans to convert a former Sears into senior housing.
When asked if Lycoming Mall in Pennsdale would be a possibility for redevelopment, Lagerman said no one from Lycoming Mall has approached D&C Realty about repurposing.
Instead, the realty group has been approached by several interested parties in the Harrisburg area, Lagerman said.
The Lycoming Mall is currently down to 13 stores, with large former anchor stores such as Sears, J.C. Penney, and Bon-Ton, remaining empty.