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Concerns that Orchards Mall is dying: 'It deserves to be saved'

NOW: Concerns that Orchards Mall is dying: ’It deserves to be saved’

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. --- JC Penney will soon be closing their doors in Benton Harbor for good.

Now, Berrien County residents are worried that the rest of the mall will die with it.

The department store chain announced 27 stores will be closing by 2020 last week and the Orchards Mall location is one of them.

With both Sears and Carsons shuttering their doors at the mall in the last few years, JC Penney following suit means the mall could be in trouble.

The Orchards mall is quiet and with only a handful of shops still open, it’s lacking what it needs most: shoppers.

Yavone Moffitt has been coming to Orchards Mall since she was a teen and an unclear future for the 60-acre site makes her a little weary.

“I’m sad to see the mall disintegrating the like it is,” Moffitt said. “It used to be a very popular spot. It used to be my favorite spot, me and my girlfriends, when we were young.”

The decision to close the Benton Harbor location came after a review of performance. In a statement to ABC57, a JC Penney spokesperson said “this is a necessary business decision” because of a minimum cash flow coming in.

The mall has previously struggled with making its payments. Since new owners took over the property last year, Berrien County treasurer Bret Witkoski said the payment situation has gotten better but they’ve only paid enough to keep them out of foreclosure.

This all comes as no surprise to shoppers but they still see room for possibilities.

“It still does have potential; it still does have a chance to have businesses here,” Moffitt said. “I really wish they would save it because it deserves to be saved so that there could be something here for the people of Benton Harbor.”

ABC57 has made multiple attempts to contact the store owners, with no luck, to see what the future plans are, if there are any.

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