That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

November 23, 2006

Mauling of the malls brings tear

Filed under: deadmalls.com — Anita @ 6:27 am

(My “deadmalls.com Boss”, Brian Florence is mentioned in this article)

MIKE HENDRICKS
The Kansas City Star

Separate proposals to flatten two more area shopping malls surfaced last week.

And just the month before, the owner of two other enclosed shopping centers announced that those properties were slated for extensive makeovers that would render them unrecognizable as traditional malls.

Yes, the trend away from big, climate-controlled malls continues unabated in Kansas City and across the nation.

And so arises this inevitable question:

When all the malls are dead and gone, will anyone give a flying food court about it?

Or at the other extreme, might we one day read that a historic preservationist chained himself to an abandoned Orange Julius stand in hopes of keeping the surrounding mall from being demolished?

It seemed like a timely topic as many of us get ready to embark on that awful chore.

The annual holiday spending spree.

It used to begin and end at the mall. Not so much anymore.

These days we also crowd into box stores, warehouse clubs and “lifestyle centers.”

The climate-controlled malls once heralded as “the new downtowns” are fading.

Not all. Those area powerhouses, like Oak Park Mall and Independence Center, will be jammed as usual come Friday.

But in the past couple of years, Blue Ridge Mall was flattened. Mission Center is gone, too.

Last week we learned that Indian Springs and —— Mall also were being considered for redevelopment.

Metcalf South and Metro North are in line for extensive makeovers.

What a change, given that most of us grew up going to the mall.

Malls were to us what downtown shopping districts were to our parents and grandparents.

Pop culture glorified mall culture as recently as the 1980s.

But now Jeff Spicoli and his fellow mall rats in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” wouldn’t recognize their former hangout.

A recent makeover of the Sherman Oaks Galleria left little of the original mall intact.

“I have not heard of anyone who is interested in preserving the shopping mall,” said Kathy Daniels, curator of collections and exhibits at the Johnson County Museums.

I got a similar answer from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, though Jennifer Sandy in the Chicago office said it was likely that a mall preservation movement would spring up someday.

That could be a while. The minimum age is 50 for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. And the first fully enclosed shopping mall, Southdale Center in Edina, Minn., only recently passed that mark.

“If you look at the average age of enclosed malls, it’s 28 to 29 years old,” said Patrice Duker, spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Even so, mall nostalgia is already taking root.

Mall lovers post their mall memories, as well as theories on what killed or is killing their favorite malls, on the Web site http://www.deadmalls.com.

With a name like that, I half expected a snarky send-up of malls as trash culture.

However, the site is anything but, co-founder Brian Florence told me in a phone conversation from his home in upstate New York.

“We all went to malls growing up, going to the arcade and stuff,” he said.

Perhaps he sensed I wasn’t buying it, so he explained further:

“When a mall closes, you lose a piece of history.”

At that point I got sort of weepy myself.

Oh, not because I mourn dead malls. It’s just that I’d begun thinking about my very own holiday spending spree.

Be it caused by a trip to the mall or not, a bare bank account always brings tears to my eyes.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call (816) 234-7708 or send e-mail to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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4 Comments »

  1. “Indian Springs and —— Mall”?

    Did something get auto-censored? Who would give a mall a nasty name?

    Comment by Anonymous — December 10, 2006 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  2. I did that when I originally pasted that article. We (at deadmalls.com) had been getting a lot of hatemail about Bannister mall and quite frankly I was getting tired of it so I just “—-‘d” it out. I didn’t want the hate mail coming over here.

    Comment by Anita — December 10, 2006 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  3. Ooo! Just went to deadmalls to look that up and it looks like someone who works there has some issues!

    Comment by Anonymous — December 10, 2006 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

  4. It’s sad to read this article. I was born and raised in Kansas City, and needless to say, I have many fond memories of some of the mentioned malls.

    Metro North, in particular, was one of the two malls closest to my house (the other, Antioch Center, is now completely dead, I hear, and was supposed to be razed this year). What I always found odd about Metro, as we knew it back home, is that despite its popularity (being the largest mall north of the Missouri River), much of the east wing (anchored by Wards) was never occupied. The storefronts were blocked with pseudo-walls painted to match the rest of the mall’s motif.

    *shrug*

    It’s kinda wierd to hear that it’ll be made over. I hope, at the very least, they will keep the hot air balloons at the center court. It won’t be Metro if you can’t meet at the balloons.

    Thanks for posting this!

    Comment by Anonymous — December 11, 2006 @ 8:53 am | Reply


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