Meet Mario Keizi, New Owner of Oakland Mall of Troy


His roots may have influenced Mario Kiezi, 32, the president of MKiezi Investments, to recently purchase the 54-year-old Oakland Mall of Troy. It housed his family’s ice cream store, Antoine’s Ice Cream, when he was growing up.

But sentiment only goes so far for Kiezi, who is the second generation of a family who immigrated from Iraq. He wants to transform the largely one-story building into an “anti-mall” and town center full of experiences for its visitors.

Kiezi recently turned his focus on Detroit and the purchase of retail centers here after years of living in Ohio, learning to build strip malls in his early 20s. He knows that if left alone Oakland Mall will eventually succumb as a victim of online shopping, even though at a 90 percent occupancy rate, it is doing considerably better than many other malls across America, which were struggling even before the pandemic.

He wants to harness the popularity of online shopping as part of his vision, making the mall a place for online retailers, even offering a subscription service to the mall itself eventually -- “But something a little bit more boutique.” He wants to eliminate national chains, especially those in retail, adding food trucks, seasonal pop-ups, a farmer’s market and an indoor dog park, as well as providing hands-on experiences with cooking classes, candle making and lip bar making. He’s also talking to national brands about developing one-of-a-kind concepts for the center. Things that would largely appeal to young people and families.

In fact, Kiezi connects with young people through the social media platform TikTok to put out business advice in pithy 60-second increments and ask for tips on the region’s best “secret” businesses that should become part of the new vision – “No meeting should last longer than one hour” -- include them as he roams the metro Detroit area in his search for original and quality businesses to perhaps lure to his space and to ask for their input on his vision -- “Which design concept for the mall entrance do you like the best, picture 1, 2, 3 or 4?” “Accepting proposals for unique and creative quick service restaurants. NO CHAINS.”

He understands trends, brainstorming on TikTok about a hot cocoa bar pop-up for the holidays, wondering if vegan marshmallows should be offered. “I need your help,” he implored his followers.

No wonder Kiezi’s TikTok account has exploded to 46,000+ followers and makes him instantly recognizable when he visits the mall, which he does often, familiarizing himself with the mall walkers, staff and security guards.

It may have started with a nod to his past, but Kiezi’s enthusiasm and vision may take him and Oakland Mall well into the future.

“Can’t wait until it’s done,” said one of his TikTok followers.

“Can’t wait to see it,” another agreed.

Neither can we!