While there's still no evidence that the high bidder has closed his or her deal to buy the Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor, the future already looks considerably brighter thanks to new LED lighting being installed by lighting contractors based in Hudsonville today.
Several teams of electrical contractors from Meekhof Electric, Inc., were busy soaring skyward aboard cherry-picker industrial lifts where they were changing out four large circular cannisters on each light pole for sleek new LED fixtures designed to provide considerably wider and brighter coverage at a substantial savings in energy costs going forward.
One contractor told me that the teams had been changing out large 1,000-watt incandescent light bulbs and their shaded canister housings for low profile, flat LED fixtures rated at just 200-watts each, but capable of increasing light output by some 20 to 40 percent while saving tidy sums on the cost of energy to light each one.
The more than 40-year old light fixtures appear to be the original lighting pods from when the mall was first built nearly 40 years ago in 1979.
At least seven of the new lighting pods were installed in today's action, virtually all of them surrounding the J.C. Penney end of the mall and outside of JoAnn Fabrics. A large trailer being towed by one of the Meekhof vehicles was filled with the old canisters and bulbs, ready to be towed away from the premises.
Meekhof Electric is a third generation team of electricians passionate about their profession. The company has an outstanding track record with Consumers Energy for top performance on energy savings initiatives for businesses all across the region.
Energy savings will be well received by whoever controls the mall, as utility bills have been an issue in several recent brief shutdowns at the mall for overdue, unpaid bills.
The current owner Michael Kohan and an unidentified prospective new owner are continuing negotiations and due diligence following an online auction on June 13th in which the top bid received was reportedly $2.1-million, while Kohan had been hopeful to achieve at least $2.5-million in the sale.
The broker working on the closing documents has indicated that the new owner is interested in keeping the aging mall as a viable shopping center with plans to upgrade facilities and attract new tenants going forward.
Either way, the exterior is getting new, brighter, more efficient lighting, and that's good news for shoppers headed there in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.