MCFARLAND MALL: TUSCALOOSA, AL
James Gilbreath's Commentary:
Posted May 17, 2014 (user submitted)
I just came across your wonderful site from an article on BoingBoing.net and I was reading through the entries on Alabama. I was rather surprised not to find an entry on McFarland Mall, the first enclosed mall built in Tuscaloosa, AL, and the sixth in Alabama. It has a wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McFarland_Mall.
Given that I didn't arrive in Tuscaloosa until 2003 (my freshman year in college), I didn't have much experience with McFarland Mall. To get to it from campus, one had to drive past the much nicer University Mall, and it didn't really offer much interest to me at the time. It was somewhat in decline when I arrived there, but its major stores were still open, Dillard's and something else. It still had an arcade (which lasted a few more years), and the food court offerings were pretty good. There was also a movie theater in the back of the mall that was still in operation when I moved to Tuscaloosa. On campus, McFarland Mall was probably best known as the place where city councilor Kip Tyner hosted "Great Day Tuscaloosa," a public access television show. There was a spot by the food court with white wicker furniture and ferns, which was where it was filmed
Over the next several years, it obviously declined. Stores started closing up, and the process accelerated after Midtown Village (an open-air shopping center similar to the Summit in Birmingham) opened up across from University Mall (which is still chugging along). In 2008 or 2009 I remember going to the mall with my then-girlfriend and marveling at how empty it was. This was when Goody's was liquidating its inventory. Most of the food court was still in operation, but otherwise there was pretty much only the Post Office, a dollar store on the outskirts of the mall, a few urban clothing stores, and a curio shop run by an Asian family. There were still a couple of lonely kiosk vendors selling phone accessories and gold-plated jewelry.
A couple of years ago, the McFarland family (who owned the mall) sold the property to local real-estate tycoon Stan Pate. As an aside, Stan Pate owns roughly half the city, and isn't incredibly well-loved by the student population. Demolition on the mall started a couple of months ago, and it's going to be replaced by some boring open air shopping center. (http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20140319/NEWS/140319536/1291/ENTERTAINMENT?Title=McFarland-Mall-demolition-makes-way-for-new-shopping-center)