Petition to Keep Northumberland Mall

In August 2018, Northumberland Mall announced that they had a new owner and that they had plans to at least do a facelift and more likely do a major upgrade.  The planned expansion of the cinema was put on hold and we were told that there should be some news by January but this did not happen.  Meanwhile a few stores have closed although others are continuing.  Not content with waiting for something to happen, Kim Goebel has started an online petition at asking management to keep it the way it is and to not turn it into a strip mall. Kim is concerned that poor management has caused traffic to drop so that stores then move out.  After a day or so, the target of 500 votes has almost been reached.

Northumberland Mall Re-development
Northumberland Mall Re-development

You may or may not agree with everything that Kim says but it is almost certainly true that the majority of local residents agree with the sentiment that the mall should be preserved as a shopping destination.

The current owner is Toronto based Timbercreek and the management company is Austin, Texas based Sandalwood. The photo shows the Sandalwood drawing of their planned re-development – see also the links below for more.

Here is what Kim says in the petition

WE the people of Northumberland County are petitioning Timbercreek Asset Management and Sandalwood Management Company to keep our Mall the way it is and not make it just another strip mall.  We petition them to bring back a food court in order to increase traffic in the mall and to consider concessions/incentives in order to draw new stores and brand name stores to take up residence in our Mall.  New signage would also attract more people.

The people of Cobourg and the surrounding area fought long and hard to get a Mall and it took 10 years to finally bring it fruition.  We had a vision of what our mall would be like and the previous owner ruined in by taking out our food court and jacking rents and destroying the atmosphere that was there. 

Many popular little stores closed, large stores move in and out like the Building has a revolving door.  New businesses shy away from moving here because they see the lack of traffic.

Our community needs this mall but we need it to be properly set up and properly managed.  Bluenotes is leaving because of the poor attitudes of the Managers and the lack of traffic because of the poor management and organization of it.

Northumberland residents want a Mall they can be proud of.  Please listen to our requests, implement these requests and give us something we can brag about!

If you agree:

Click here for link to the petition

So far, Cobourg’s Town planning department have received no applications for work at the Mall.


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Daniel Ruffolo
27 March 2019 4:15 pm

The mall has been struggling along for a long time. I’m not sure why “Moving storefronts to the exterior” is “killing” the mall in any meaningful way. The only loss to the town by removing the interior qualities of the mall is that seniors who use the space for walks in the winter won’t have it.

The town cares too much about preserving the past, and not enough about embracing the future in basically every category. Hard to countenance the long-held narrative of a competition between the Mall and the Downtown when -both- of them are progressively dying.

Walter L. Luedtke
27 March 2019 9:52 am

Announced just this morning, one of Toronto’s premier shopping centres will soon undergo a nearly $100-million renovation. Cadillac Fairview and TD Greystone Asset Management will invest $80-million into revitalizing Toronto’s Fairview Mall, the 230,000 square-foot shopping centre in North York.
According to a press release by Cadillac Fairview, the existing department stores and retail spaces will be completely transformed. The company plans to introduce “exciting brands” to the shopping centre, as well as creating a new row of dining establishments.
Go Northumberland Mall go!

manfred s
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
27 March 2019 12:55 pm

but, “what you talkin ’bout Willis (er..Walter)?”; this flies in the face of the resident ‘retailing experts’ on this blog, no? Perhaps Cadilac Fairview is unaware of the ‘realities’ out there…

Mario the Plumber
Reply to  manfred s
27 March 2019 2:45 pm

Fairview Mall is in the middle of a booming metropolis.

27 March 2019 8:40 am

Granted the Mall is Tired and getting OLD so is every store on KING ST.
but 1 fact remains if we don’t invest in our own community by shopping here and buying goods locally
the same as we do when it comes to fresh produce the shops and business will continue to deteriorate .
I don’t mean the Town should be throwing Tax $$ out the window either at these businesses to create
the illusion of successful either — this is simply driving up the taxes again which the landlords continue to pass along to the business tenants
The same holds true for the retailers they too have become Old news and complacent and if they don’t
invest in them selves and have new product , window dressing , close competitive pricing and stay open for business to attract and keep us coming back then King st and the Mall will carry on the way it is .

Dave Moore
26 March 2019 5:00 pm

The Mall is a special spot for me as I managed Randall’s for 7 years, but it has run its span and it is time to tear it down and redevelop. The building is in poor shape, been half empty since Zellers left we need to move on with something more modèrn

Small Town Lover
26 March 2019 10:43 am

A couple of years ago I went to the mall to buy a pair of pantyhose. This was when Sears was in the midst of shutting down. I could not find a pair to buy anywhere in the mall. Enough said.
I go to the movies and to Metro, that’s it.

Jim Thomas
Reply to  Small Town Lover
28 March 2019 11:26 pm

Reminds me of trying to buy a simple curtain rod downtown. Can’t be done, apparently.
It’s very simple, really: if those Big Box Stores up the highway are providing all that people need, they will get all the business and the others will suffer.

manfred s
Reply to  Jim Thomas
29 March 2019 11:10 am

these staples were all available in the central commercial district at one time or other, when shopping was far less ‘convenient’ than it is now, Jim. One-stop became the objective and it all stems from the battles between the titans, the retail giants. To beat their competition they go all out to be everything to as many consumers as possible, making it tougher for the little guys, the ‘specialists’, to stay relevant. Once that main battle subsides and one them pulls back, somewhat of a vacuum is created and the consumer dollars are drawn in. Then starts the process of condensing, trimming, the offerings to eliminate marginally productive products. The lower volume, lower profit off casts are then open to the little guys but unfortunately, those products are just as low demand, low profit for them too, and that translates into the struggles mentioned earlier. This is only going to be amplified as the convenience of on-line outdoes the convenience of big-box in some major categories, leaving the big guys to fight the same battle that they perpetrated on the little guys a generation or two earlier. The knock-down battle between the on-line giants will have it’s own, similar impacts on the consumer landscape. The winner…the shippers, the suppliers and the manufacturers, all of whom are essential, regardless of where the products hit the virtual shelf, and robotics will eventually rule those domains. Just imagine what’s yet to come, what’s yet too obscure to see or predict, as was our current scenario not all that long ago…memories of Eatons, Sears catalogues and Consumers Distributing, etc. … and life goes on…

Reply to  manfred s
29 March 2019 12:12 pm

Then starts the process of condensing, trimming, the offerings to eliminate marginally productive products. The lower volume, lower profit off casts are then open to the little guys but unfortunately, those products are just as low demand, low profit for them too, and that translates into the struggles mentioned earlier.

The good news is that you can purchase low demand products online. You can shop local at Walmart and Home Depot for the common stuff and online for the special size and colour of panty hose. The best of both worlds for the consumer but no place for the mom and pop retailer serving only a tiny local market.

Reply to  Dubious
29 March 2019 2:03 pm

until you need it fixed or repaired…
or some help with it
maybe you don’t know what you want and you need the help of a trusted sales person.

26 March 2019 10:34 am

Heaven knows why previous owners decided to evict all the food vendors. Who was it a favour for? I know that the little Chinese resto went very unwillingly.

26 March 2019 8:58 am

The fact is Timber Creek is a Creditor that they were stuck with & had to take over the property to protect its investment as mortgage arrears were rising & the property Tax was in arrears by many yrs The property was being neglected and falling into disrepair everyone could see that . . The Solution of Course is EVERY ONE Shop Local . But we need a larger diversification of Stores and a better selection at competitive prices this goes for King st as well. There are Pros and Cons to various types of Malls Big Box Fronts , Strip and Indoor malls
but we need a better selection of Tenants to attract shoppers . This mall has the lay out to be quite diversified
as to the type of tenant lay outs should the Timber Creek bunch be able to attract new and better tenants that we all like to shop at The Solution again is Shop local if you want to save your mall .
PS The newly Renovated and expanded Oshawa Mall is doing very well I see a lot of People from our area there . May be a Costco seems we all shop there as well .

Reply to  perplexed
26 March 2019 4:29 pm

Strange, I have never seen a report on exactly how much in $ does the Mall owe Cobourg.

Reply to  cornbread
26 March 2019 9:15 pm

No you don t know that nor can you find out exactly how many small business have opened & closed on King st in the last 10 yrs or the reasons for their demise
Initially it was reported the Mall was sold
It’s all about saving face

manfred se
Reply to  perplexed
27 March 2019 11:22 am

“It’s all about saving face”, THAT’S so, so true, perplexed. It’s clearly illustrated by the political information feed and announcements that come out of town hall and from the politicians themselves. After all, every re-election campaign starts the day after the last election.

Daniel Ruffolo
Reply to  manfred se
27 March 2019 4:12 pm

When I opened Dan’s Books and Games in October of 2014 there were about 15 empty storefronts on King St. When I was forced out by constant rent increases in 2018, there were 34 empty storefronts on King St.

I would wager a lot more businesses on King St are struggling a lot more than they will ever tell a customer in the shop.

manfred s
Reply to  Daniel Ruffolo
27 March 2019 8:23 pm

Dan, being “forced out by constant rent increases” might suggest that revenues were not growing by at least the same rate as the rent increases, thereby decreasing the net revenues available to sustain the business. Your situation was probably not unique; business is a struggle, for many, likely always has been and likely always will be. The perception that there is plenty of money out there may be right but where it gets spent is a whole other kettle of fish altogether. The big retailers can weather the fluctuations unlike the little guys, who, as you say, struggle to make it work. Downtowns are largely made up of ‘little guys’ so that struggle is amplified in the downtowns, but, then again, many manage to wiggle and twist to keep it on track. And you’re right, few will admit their struggles for fear of driving their customers away. Why would you? Besides, I’ve not experienced the case where, in response to such news, customers actually change their habits in a significant enough manner to make much of a difference. At the end of the day, they just want to get what they’re looking for and carry on with their day. You can be sure though, when the pendulum swings the other way, all this talk of what’s wrong with the world will evaporate and it’ll be gangbusters, again, at least for a while. That is, until expectations become exaggerated and unrealistic, which brings us right back to where we appear to be for now. Like it or not, things change, and yet, will end up being the same as always.

Daniel Ruffolo
Reply to  manfred s
29 March 2019 12:44 pm

Dan, being “forced out by constant rent increases” might suggest that revenues were not growing by at least the same rate as the rent increases, thereby decreasing the net revenues available to sustain the business.

I mean…yes that is what those words mean. In year 2 I was earning enough money to cover all operating costs and pay myself a livable salary. When your rent then increases by several thousand dollars a year every year, that ends up coming out of your salary. It became a point where I was no longer earning enough money to live on. I’m not sure why this was being explained to me like I didn’t know.

manfred s
Reply to  Daniel Ruffolo
29 March 2019 9:24 pm

if the rent increases had to come out of something other than the operating revenues, the indication would seem to be that the business model was not viable as it was, and the shortfall would have been a clue that either the model had to change or retire altogether. A sound business model would factor in the escalating rents which couldn’t have been a surprise, given the terms of the occupancy in the first place. It seems disingenuous to blame the rent increases rather than recognize and acknowledge the effects of a less than sound business model. The point is, rent, while being a key factor, is not to blame in such cases, which I’d say is contrary to your assertion.

Dean Mandzuk
Reply to  Daniel Ruffolo
27 March 2019 11:12 pm

I’m curious how you had rent increases in the same year.
Was it common costs ?
I’ve got a great place if your looking for one…

Jim Thomas
Reply to  Daniel Ruffolo
28 March 2019 11:34 pm

I’m trying to understand how a landlord could raise rents if it drives his tenant out and leaves no rental income at all, and why they wouldn’t be forced to lower rents in order to prevent tenants from moving into an empty storefront nearby at a lower rent.
Something doesn’t add up.

Daniel Ruffolo
Reply to  Jim Thomas
29 March 2019 12:41 pm

My rent increased 150% in 4 years. Every year, I would be handed a substantial rent increase, I would offer to sign for 3 years in exchange for no increase, would be refused, and forced back into another 1 year lease. I was 98% of the way into moving locations twice but they fell through at the last minute and I opted to push on.

The downtown is populated primarily by spaces that are far too small or far too big for what I needed, so in spite of the constantly growing vacancy rate, not that many spaces were suitable.

And as for why they wouldn’t be forced to lower rents to prevent a tenant leaving, consider that a couple months after I vacated, the space was in the hands of a business owned by a long-time personal friend of the landlord.

manfred s
Reply to  Daniel Ruffolo
29 March 2019 9:32 pm

why accept such terms at the outset, knowing what was to follow? Sounds like a plan to fail right from the get go, Dan. I feel your disappointment but you agreed of your own accord. It’s pointless to blame a bad deal, better to make a better one elsewhere at the first opportunity.

Reply to  manfred s
31 March 2019 7:08 pm

“Why accept such terms at the outset” I didn’t? I signed a two year lease, expecting like every lease I’ve ever signed in my life, that at the end of that lease, it would continue on the same way. At the end of the lease, I was presented with “This is the increase” and a refusal to consider anything but another 1-year lease. At the end of that lease, I was again presented with “This is the increase” and a refusal to consider anything but another 1-year lease. I proposed longer lease terms multiple times, and was refused each time with no room for change. Leading into Year 3 and Year 4 I was in both cases about 98% of the way through changing locations, when those deals fell through due to, in the first case, a landlord who was grossly misleading about the costs right up until the last moment, and in the second case, a landlord who steadfastly refused to even bring the building up to code on their own dime. Much as I appreciate the lecture from “some guy” about how I should have done things when he knows none of the details, you’re getting pretty judgy and arrogant for a person who wasn’t involved. That business ran for 4 years, and brought some much needed community to the town, as well as providing a safe and welcoming space for young people that this town sorely lacks. And as for “If the rent increase didn’t come out of operating expenses” are you just not familiar how a sole prop works? The net revenue of the company after all operating expenses is my income for the year. The business was sustaining all operating expenses and paying me a living wage. When rent goes up, that -does come out… Read more »

Reply to  Jim Thomas
29 March 2019 2:18 pm

one thing that use to drive me bonkers is that each year a certain landlord would hand out the annual slight rent increase to the tenants in the place,
but then the places vacant next door would still be for rent for the same amount. So my base rent would be lets say $15 a sq foot plus 2% year 2 and so on but the place next door vacant would still be $15. Then they would let someone in there for $10 to try and and meanwhile we got no perk or help for being a long term loyal locked in tenant that always paid.
It didnt seem like much but after being in a place for 10 years it sure did add up and if you had alot of space it hurt. Reward the people that have been with you the longest even if its a rebate at the end of the year or a gift.
Very few landlords think about the repercussions of lowering a vacant space to get it full when you have a multi unit building. It can be dangerous!
you are better to give a few months free to get setup then to lower the base rent. It should get cheaper per sqft only if the size increases.

manfred s
29 March 2019 9:07 pm

seems that strategy is alive and kicking, especially in the cell phone sector. They can’t do anything about your rate, that is, UNTIL you decide to switch, THEN they’ve got a deal for you. “homey don’t play dat game” I tell ’em flat out…too late! How about those great ‘incentivizing deals’ that are only good to NEW customers, the ones that haven’t paid a cent yet, and it’s your money that subsidizes the new guy’s great deal. Should be the other way around, the new guy buys in to get a better deal the longer they stay. Ha, like that’s ever going to happen. My own retail strategy for 40 years was to give my faithful customers the breaks when I could while the transient folk who asked for a break were denied, regardless. Support those who support me was my MO, and never wavered.

John Draper
Reply to  perplexed
27 March 2019 2:47 pm

My sources tell me that the mall was not in arrears for taxes, it was for mortgage payments.

Stan G
26 March 2019 3:22 am

As far as I’m concerned, I’d love it if the mall closed up altogether, and the existing stores relocated to downtown. Turn the place into condos or a GO bus terminal or something.

Kim Goebel
Reply to  Stan G
29 March 2019 11:15 pm

Cobourg needs more condos like you need another hole in your head which is not at all!! A Go bus terminal would be great if it actually came down this far. Definitely a good idea! It could be placed in where the restaurant was at the main entrance of the mall so there is outside access to it after the Mall closes.

25 March 2019 8:32 pm

Just a hint to the Cobourg Council next time a developer comes to Town and touts the project based on a catchment area of 90,000 run a mile.

Reply to  ben
25 March 2019 10:02 pm

Thanks for your 20-20 hindsight Captain Obvious.

manfred s
Reply to  ben
25 March 2019 11:00 pm

Ben, what makes me laugh till I can’t, is the implied wisdom and ‘expertise’ so freely offered and expressed by all the ‘armchair experts’ that love to chime in on such a complex matter as retail, right here on their favourite soapbox. And on top of that, some pretend to know so much more than they do and obscure that truth by mocking true wisdom and insight. Thing is, not one of the cocky ones has any relevant real-life experience to actually back up their know-it-all shtick… enough said

Wally Keeler
Reply to  manfred s
26 March 2019 10:14 am

Standing O Manfred.

Doug Lawrence
Reply to  manfred s
27 March 2019 9:07 am

Well said sir

Jim Thomas
25 March 2019 8:27 pm

I can’t imagine signing that petition, much as I like having the mall there. Neither new signs nor a food court will attract customers nor would mall operators drive their tenants out with excessive rents that leave their mall empty. Mall owners understand these factors all too well.
If “our community needs this mall” it would be thriving. The message seems to be that we don’t, in fact, need it. We can get our stuff other places, which is the basic problem. Petitions to save the mall for historic or sentimental reasons don’t mean a damn to investors.
I was property accountant for two large malls in western Canada for a time and know a bit about the economics and dynamics involved.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Jim Thomas
26 March 2019 10:15 am

Standing O Jim

Reply to  Jim Thomas
26 March 2019 11:50 am

I can’t think of one time that I ever went to the mall because of it’s food court.

Reply to  Ruth
26 March 2019 3:11 pm

Because we are old enough to know that mall food is just more fast food…..but teenagers do Ruby.

Kim Goebel
Reply to  Rob
29 March 2019 11:21 pm

Thank you Rob. Teenagers are the future of Cobourg. If it takes them to make the mall thrive then a food court is a good idea. Even a couple of restaurants would be a good idea to put into the Mall. Many people like to eat before going to the movies, bowling or while they shop especially during holidays like Christmas.

Reply to  Jim Thomas
26 March 2019 12:21 pm

yet so many people invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (reits)
I work for a ton of reits and it seems that once a place is developed and rented out its only a matter of time before a reit buys it up and takes it over.
Infact I have noticed that the developers usually are not to concerned about a high profit on the rent but rather just want to get the place full and then it goes for sale and is bought up by a reit.

Our community does need a mall, but the tenants have multiple reasons they cannot sustain them selves. Common costs to fix things which are worn out can be expensive, upkeep on the common areas, and such large units that even if the price per sw ft is low, the monthly cheque is large. Yes we can get things other places, but that is mainly out of town. There will soon be many more houses and condos with people who want to shop and spend money.

There are alot of schools and alot of kids that need clothes, and they wear out fast when your young.

The petition doesnt mean a thing to the investors decisions other then it shows that there are close to 500 people who want essentially better shopping. Inside, outside, with or without condos, bring your money people.

Dean Mandzuk
25 March 2019 7:01 pm

I would like to make it known that I did not sign that petition and I think its crazy. Its discouraging what could be one of the best transformations in Cobourg.
I want to see a redevelopment, I want to be part of it. Id even help.
This is a big move. It takes alot of skin to be in this game, some good contacts, and some big coconuts.

Dean Mandzuk
25 March 2019 6:54 pm

These new owners have experience in development and you need a well backed group to give management something to pitch, sell the the client and then manage. A mix of retail with residential and a redevelopment is genius is my opinion. The average person would not realize that although it sounds very easy to just lower the rent and advertise it, that is not the case in signing up tenants. The rent may be lower but the common costs (repairs and maintenance, cost to light the common spaces, clean them, empty garbages, those are hard to control) In an older building these things can be unpredictable, so you may have a low base rent but then your add on common costs really hurt the tenant. When you redevelop a place the prospective tenants are not worried about repairing a roof on their dime, cleaning vacant space, repairing old tiles and lights. Capital expenses are not part of the tenants share, repairs are. People talked about this when the midtown mall was going to be changed, now look at the place. Its packed! Across the street, rented! down the street, rented! The big places wouldnt rent but once they were divided a little smaller the rented up. look at the bargin shop now, they are going to divide it. I said this years ago, mom and pa need small shops, they can afford. Id love a hugh computer store but I have to fill it. Those electronics go bad faster then lettuce!. All you have to to is get some smaller spots available, and secure a few anchors which can burn a little money till the place gets booming and you will be able to see the light then you can all reap the harvest. A mix of indoor and outdoor… Read more »

25 March 2019 4:02 pm

Time to let the mall die
“Only two enclosed malls have been built in Canada since 1989 – Vaughan Mills in Toronto and CrossIron Mills in Calgary”
There is reason for that , people only want to go huge malls that have everything
Small malls only have junky stores
The mall downtown Belleville has been turned into offices and condos

We are over 60 and usually the first place we check is Amazon to buy stuff
Too bad they could not make a deal with Northumberland Heath to put office in there

Jim Thomas
Reply to  Rob
25 March 2019 5:28 pm

I’m not at all convinced about the buying habits of seniors. I’m one, and I buy on the net all the time, including ordering items for pick up at Staples. The real problem is that “empty nesters” and seniors aren’t acquiring much, rather they are more likely to dispose of furniture and such and downsize. Not great mall customers for that reason.
The two big competitors up Strathy Road also draw shoppers for two-stop shopping and done.