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Crossroads Mall files new lawsuit and an eviction notice

A man in a dark coat with his hood pulled up sits on a railroad tie in the drizzling rain at the Crossroads Mall bus stop.  He has several shopping bags sitting next to him.  In the photo you can see the bus stop sign in the foreground, J.C. Penny and the mall in the background.  You can also see potholes in the parking lot and that the buss stop trash can is full.
Leona Larson
Christopher Bradford waits for a bus in the drizzling rain after a shopping spree at Crossroads Mall. On March 28, the Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority removed the bus shelter after being served with a notice of intention to evict.

Kalamazoo’s transit authority removed the bus stop shelter after the mall filed a notice of intention to evict against the agency.

In January, a federal judge dismissed a 2023 lawsuit filed by Crossroads Mall Holding Company against the Kalamazoo County Transit Authority (KCTA). In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Jane M. Beckering left room for the company to file in state court.

Mall management confirmed to WMUK that it filed a new lawsuit for damages in the 9th Circuit Court at the end of March, along with the notice of intention to evict.

Marni Sawicki manages six Michigan malls for one of the two investment groups that purchased the property in 2022. She said despite the legal action, the company supports having a bus stop on the property, as long as they have a formal maintenance agreement with KCTA. Sawicki said such agreements are common and it’s more than fixing pot holes and plowing snow.

“Whose liable? Who takes care of the bus stop, the maintenance of it? Are we changing the trash?”

According to Sawicki the transit authority never got permission from previous owners to put a bus stop on mall property to begin with. And she said it never notified the mall that it would be removing the shelter.

Sawicki said formal maintenance agreements are common. Crossroads Mall has similar agreements with free standing businesses on its ring road that are not part of the mall itself.

“It just is surprising to me that there's so many people who want to just say, ‘It's the mall's fault and be damned the new owners. You knew what you were getting when you bought it.’ We did. And we have a plan to fix it,” Sawicki said.

A man with a red backpack, dark jacket with the hood up and blue jeans and a shopping bag stands on the grass in light rain near the 28 West Center, Metro Transit bus at the mall station, where the bus shelter was recently removed.  The trash can is in the foreground.
Leona Larson
A man heads toward the West Center bus line at the Crossroads Mall bus stop.

In the drizzle Tuesday morning, rider Tim Ginn of Kalamazoo missed the shelter.

“The shelter kept me warm and kept me from getting wet and it was part of my life for a while,” said Ginn who estimated that he’d been riding busses to the mall for at least 20-years.

Tyron Lee, is another regular passenger from Kalamazoo who was disappointed the shelter had been removed.

“I work at Crossroads Mall here in Portage; the shoe department as a sales associate,” Lee said.

“I’ve been riding the bus for the last five years now. Great company, great bus drivers.”

Tommy Lee Jackson of Portage sat in the rain waiting for a connection and wondered what would come next.

“I don't know if they are going to eliminate that bus from stopping here or what.”

Jackson’s not wrong to worry. Metro Transit said that because of the legal action brought by Crossroads Mall, it’s reviewing the routes and whether to keep the stop.

Sean McBride is the Metro Transit’s executive director. He said the eviction notice prompted the agency to remove the shelter.

“We’re really weighing all those options before we make any final decisions on routing,” McBride said.

“The bottom line is we've served the Crossroads Mall in that area for decades. We know as the public transit provider that people depend on us to get to their jobs at the mall and other areas in the area, and to shop and to get services.”

McBride said if the mall stop is closed, Metro would find a place nearby to drop passengers, adding, “if we do make changes, we’ll certainly notify passengers of Metro before we make those changes.”

Leona has worked as a journalist for most of her life - in radio, print, television and as journalism instructor. She has a background in consumer news, special projects and investigative reporting.