What happens to malls when they die?
July 24, 2002 11:41 AM   Subscribe

What happens to malls when they die? Usually, not much. Deadmalls.com chronicles dormant shopping centers through stories and pictures. While the East Coast is filled in pretty well, dead malls in the West and South are barely represented. Any malls near you-all that belong on this site? (Bonus for you shopaholics: a store locator portal!)
posted by me3dia (40 comments total)
I LOVE dead malls! What a great link, thanks! Now I need to polish my Nikon F3 and go on a dead mall photographing vacation.
posted by evanizer at 11:47 AM on July 24, 2002

I used to work at a restaurant at this one: Hunt Valley Mall, in Maryland. Everybody called it Death Valley Mall. Even 10 years ago it was a dead mall.
posted by starvingartist at 11:55 AM on July 24, 2002

I remember the Mountain Farms Mall from when I went to college. How eerie it was going to the movies there: somehow wrong, like drinking in the graveyard (which I also did in college). Sad to know that "The Dead Mall" is finally a dead mall.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:58 AM on July 24, 2002

I was pretty convinced a mall by my parents was going to die when the anchor (a gourmet grocery store) closed, but surprisingly it was the little shops that kept it alive. It took awhile but now the place is thriving.

You never know with these things. One of'em might suddenly spring back to life before your very eyes.
posted by me3dia at 12:02 PM on July 24, 2002

I used to (and still work) in Hunt Valley. We used to call it Suck Valley Mall when we went there for lunch. I moved down in here in '97 and it was always a pretty wack mall. It had useful stores like "Flags, etc..", for your year-round flag needs I guess,lol. Even at Xmas time, the place would be pretty dead...
posted by stifford at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2002

The town where I was raised just demolished its mall. Not a big loss, actually. I always hated that mall.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2002

There's a mall in Cupertino, CA called Vallco that has been staving off death for years. Now pretty much the entire lower level is empty. It has a great abandoned-theme-park feel.

I think the animatronic gnomes from the mechanized Christmas displays of its heyday are lurking down there somewhere.

And they're pissed.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2002 [1 favorite]

There's no more little towns - it's all malls! And they're all the same! The mall in St. Louis is the same mall in Detroit.. it's got the same Gap, Banana Republic, Chess King, Sunglasses Hut, all the same crap! And every town's got two malls! They've got the white mall, and the mall white people used to go to. 'Cause they're ain't nothing in the black mall! Nothing but sneakers and baby clothes!
-Chris Rock
posted by ColdChef at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2002

I see he has Cinderella City listed, perhaps the most ironically named mall on the list.
posted by thewittyname at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2002

wow, i used to always see movies at the Mountain Farms mall. many fond memories of that ol' rathole.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 12:09 PM on July 24, 2002

A humorous little tale about a dead mall from a few years ago.

The mall in question is even more dead now than it was when this set of pages first went live -- there's only one store holding out there now, and it's entirely closed off from the rest of the structure.
posted by Kikkoman at 12:11 PM on July 24, 2002

Cinderella City was dying in the eighties, when I lived close enough to go to it. It had that eerie feeling PinkStainlessTail speaks of...the carousel in the middle was especially weird, and the quietness of it was so out of place. Nathan's FunPlex was downstairs, though, which had to have been the awesomest place to be for a kid. I heard rumours that they were going to make an indoor skate park there, but apparently they gave up any hope of rekindling the profits it once used to turn.s
posted by sighofrelief at 12:16 PM on July 24, 2002

The Dixie Square Mall was used as the mall for the car chase in the Blues Brothers, after it had been abandoned for a year or so, and provided a perfect location to have a car chase through a mall.
posted by andrewraff at 12:18 PM on July 24, 2002

what's really scary is abandoned amusement parks....and there's always that leftover clown head, laughing at you.......
posted by zoopraxiscope at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2002

I think the dead Carolina Circle Mall only had gold jewelry and wigs last time I was there, no sneakers or baby clothes. But Rock is right, again. Thanks, coldchef.
posted by allpaws at 12:33 PM on July 24, 2002

I've always said that the best mall is a dead mall.
posted by laz-e-boy at 12:43 PM on July 24, 2002

The ORANGE PLAZA: MIDDLETOWN, NY page has some good commentary on mall effects in general.

"We think that we would not go to mom and pop stores any more, but to big malls. And what we thought we were doing was saving five cents on bread and 10 cents on milk, but what we were actually doing was changing the social construction of the society."

And what a surprise to discover several extinct malls which I haven't been to since their hay-days and had no idea were faltering.
posted by HTuttle at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2002

I just took about 100 pictures at Carolina Circle mall, which is in the process of becoming a gigantic Pyramids Fitness Facility.

No thanks, I'll keep my Y membership.
posted by glenwood at 12:48 PM on July 24, 2002

Im with zoo....


Other than that, I was hoping for some info on the old Hollywood Mall in Fla.... I remember it being THE place to be when I was young, and reently when I went back, it had been closed and boarded up...

posted by niteHawk at 1:23 PM on July 24, 2002

The Manhattan Mall in New York City is not dead yet, but many of the stores that used to be there are gone. There are maybe a quarter of the number of stores that were there when I first discovered it in 1994 (when it was A & S Plaza). It was still pretty much thriving in 1998, but the last time I went there, in August 2001, it really had a ghost-town feel to it. I wonder what happened.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:03 PM on July 24, 2002

Can I coin the term Undead Malls for those malls which seem to permanently be on the brink of closing down, but never do?

Eastgate Mall in Indianapolis (can't even find a proper website to link to) seems to be one of those. Plenty of empty storefronts, a substandard food court (only one chain food outlet, the other three (or was it down to two last time I was there?) are single outlets, and not particularly good ones at that), no big-name anchor unless you count Burlington Coat Factory. It's never very busy. Every time I go there I expect it to be closed within 6 months. Except that it's been that way for at least 15 years now.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:09 PM on July 24, 2002

Swifton Commons, once owned by donald trump, now has nothing but a DMV, a shoe store, and a baby clothes store in it.

The once famous Forest Fair Mall was on it's deathbed but was rescued by Outdoor World, Mecca for rednecks.
posted by Mick at 2:43 PM on July 24, 2002

Another undead mall would be College Hills Mall in Bloomington, IL. There's a Target, a Hobby Lobby, Old Country Buffet, Von Maur, a few smaller stores, and that is about it. According to the Bloomington-Normal visitor's info, there are 45 stores in the mall...so the mall is only about half full, if that.

A couple miles away is the Eastland Mall, and that's huge and thriving...go figure.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:45 PM on July 24, 2002

I think there are two reasons dead malls are so captivating. First, people, especially children, spend lots of time in malls; formative experiences take place there. And perhaps more importantly, even "alive" malls are really dead: they're inorganic soul-less places of consumerism.

Bergen Mall in Paramus: nearly dead: in the deep discount store stage of pre-death.

Nanuet Mall: where much of my contempt for pop culture and consumerism crystalized. On the critical list: the first level of discount store has taken over.

Pallisades Mall: Soul-less; killer of the Nanuet Mall. Horrible place. When I first met my finance', I asked her what she didn't like. When she mentioned this place, I knew we were going to have a long, fulfilling life together.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:03 PM on July 24, 2002

if your going to bring up cincinnati malls...... yarghh.. beechmont mall...
posted by lotsofno at 3:12 PM on July 24, 2002

This is a great thread.

The Twin Cities has Apache Plaza, a worn, lonely old place. (Granted, it looks like there may be some redevelopment in its future, so I don't know if it counts or not.)
posted by mrbula at 3:55 PM on July 24, 2002

Apache Plaza was a scary mall even when it wasn't quite so undead. In the Twin Cities, I thought HarMar Mall was undead for a while, but then they got a huge Barnes and Noble and other big stores and now seem to be back!

HarMar is one of my favorite mall names of all time. Named for HARold and MARie Slawik, owners, whose goofy faces appear on bronze plaques inside the mall. Possibly the only married couple with their own mall named after them!
posted by GaelFC at 4:06 PM on July 24, 2002

I've recently become a big fan of a dying mall (undead mall, maybe) in Reno, NV. I think it would be interesting to use it as an experiment to see if communities (local governments, or maybe something more ad hoc) could buy back these malls, and turn them into indoor plazas, where there's retail, but there's also something more vibrant and less totalizingly commercial to it. This mall (Old Town Mall, I think) is already sort of at a middle step--the two main indoor attractions are a branch of a local community college and a public library branch. I think building on that, and allowing a loitering kind of vibe would make it an interesting place to hang out, like a small town square almost. Friends (who will probably read this) tell me I'm dreaming.
posted by claxton6 at 4:10 PM on July 24, 2002

'Cause they're ain't nothing in the black mall! Nothing but sneakers and baby clothes!

The truth of this is maddening. What's the secret connection between Fubu and Gerber?
posted by owillis at 4:19 PM on July 24, 2002

Pallisades Mall: Soul-less;

Redundant, perhaps. We drive past this behemoth several times a year and have discussed stopping in but never have, mainly because the font choices on the sign are so ham-fistedly 1988 in their execution I refuse to honor them with our presence. Oh, and they know it. They won't admit it, but it burns in them, deep down. 'Course, they do have an Imax....

And sadly, the mall of my youth (Flemington) looked pretty damn dead the last time I saw it, though it's not on the site yet.
posted by jalexei at 4:28 PM on July 24, 2002

No Cinderella City, no crasspastor. That's where my parents met. My dad a janitor. My mom a clerk in an old time, locally owned department store named McDonald's. If I was asked to name one place that stands out from my childhood it would easily be Cinderella City Mall. My grandma lived a few blocks away, therefore endless, week in-week out, year in-year out Saturdays were spent entertaining the grandma there.

When it was being demolished a few years back, my friends and I climbed the fence and had free roam across the entire mall for two straight nights. It was quite possibly the most fascinating, fun, eerie, dangerous thing I've ever done. I even pilfered a 1981 Yellow Pages from a maintenance office in the nether-regions of the post holocaustic Montgomery Wards.

I wonder though, how much asbestos we inhaled those two intense all-nighters.
posted by crasspastor at 5:05 PM on July 24, 2002

Rolling Valley Mall, in Springfield, VA, was a perennial loser; its claim to fame was that this guy owned a pizza place there.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:13 PM on July 24, 2002

I used to live in Corvallis, OR. Small town, didn't have a lot of malls, but there were two of them. I actually can't recall their names, and an online search was fruitless... Anway, there were two malls, let's call them New Mall and Old Mall.

The Old Mall was pretty small, maybe 15-25 stores. There was a good bookstore, a great giftshop. Three stories high, quite... cramped. It felt as if someone had built a big house and made it into a mall. The New Mall was big, spacious, modern. A two story job, it held space for about 50 stores, there were places to sit and chat, a fountain... great stuff. They were located right next to each other, maybe 50 feet apart.

Except that the New Mall was empty. Filled to about 20% capacity, it'd cycle through stores on a monthly basis. The Old Mall's turnover was almost nil. There was only one store anyone ever went to there anyway, the pet shop. Fortunately, you could enter the pet shop from an external enterance, so you didn't have to go through the tomb. There was so little traffic that we used to joke that it was a money laundering operation. Those were the days.
posted by jedrek at 3:30 AM on July 25, 2002

glenwood: I presume you live in Greensboro? Raise up.

I've never been to the Carolina Circle Mall, but my SO and I did pass a strip mall full of stores we'd never heard of that prompted him to remark, "This is where chain stores go to die."

The mall of my youth, Rehoboth Mall in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, was built with a Roses, and Peebles, and a Happy Harry's drug store as its anchors. You could say Rehoboth Mall was born to die.
posted by jennyb at 4:50 AM on July 25, 2002

Jenny, yep. Here I sit in Downtown Greensboring. 10 Years and counting! Doh!

Carolina Circle mall has (had?) these large, circular entrances that were basically half-pipes. People skated down there all the time. In 1997 I worked at a mom and pop skate shop/record store who put together skate demos. After a Birdhouse visit one year, yours truly escorted Tony Hawk to this very place to skateboard.

Can't believe I forgot that little nugget before.
posted by glenwood at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2002

Apache Plaza still had a little life in it when it was hit by the tornado in 1984. Sears pulled out not long after that. The only real store left in there now is a Herberger's--not a proper Herberger's like the one at nearby Rosedale, a neglected Herberger's with 90-year-old women shopping for giant brassieres. If you walk to the interior "entrance" to the store, it's like peering out into an alternate universe where humankind was wiped out about 15 years ago. Unless, of course, you're the one in the alternate universe...

But like rain falling in the desert once a year, Apache Plaza comes back to life, or close to it, with occasional "antique shows". Antique here means junk, with an emphasis on chainsaw sculptures and macrame. Another odd thing about Apache is how thriving businesses have grown up in a ring around it: video store, Taco Bell, Cub Foods, U.S. Bank; if all the businesses around it would have located in it, we might not be talking about a dead mall.

I still don't know why it was named "Apache Plaza". I describe the neighborhood to people as "the place where everything is named 'Apache' for no apparent reason". Redevelopment plans come and go--the City of St. Anthony was going to knock the whole thing over and build condos the last I heard.
posted by gimonca at 7:31 AM on July 25, 2002

We just went to Carolina Circle Mall yesterday! We were looking for a Toys R Us, on the north east side of town. Lucky us the one next the Carolina Circle Mall was closing down, but Sunday was it's last day. Not so lucky was the limited selection that consisted mainly of N'Sync dolls and scooter wheels.
posted by corpse at 7:10 AM on July 29, 2002

Geez, how many people here are in Greensboro?!

I stocked up my Simpsons collection real good at that very Toys R Us.
posted by glenwood at 8:15 AM on August 2, 2002

Not many, me and Jennyb are the ones i know, because we share an address.
posted by corpse at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2002

« Older Bikes and cars don't mix.   |   Odds of Death Due to Injury, United States, 1998 Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments