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               MONTGOMERY MALL: MONTGOMERY, AL

Grant Wadsworth's Commentary

Posted April 29, 2006 (user submitted)

Montgomery Mall was started in the late 1960's with just one building that housed a local department store called Montgomery Fair. One year later the rest of the mall was built and opened with many specialty shops and another anchor store JCPenney. Montgomery Fair later became Gayfers department store. For many years this mall thrived and was located in a very main thoroughfare on the southeast end of town.

About ten years later in 1977 another major mall was built across town at another major intersection that was twice the size and offered four department stores and many more specialty shops. This mall did not hurt Montgomery Mall at all when it opened. In 1988 Montgomery Mall underwent a majorrenovation and expansion that updated and more than doubled the size of the mall. In this expansion the mall added a third anchor store called Parisian and a state of the art food court with a big carousel in the middle of the food court. In this expansion the mall also doubled the amount of specialty shops. Some of these included the Gap, Crabtree & Evelyn, The Limited, Lerner, and many other great stores for the 1980's time period.

Montgomery Mall continued to thrive and be the preferred mall in town until the late nineties and even into the new millineum. In 1999 crime in the entire area of the mall began to get really bad and their was even a shooting in the food court of this mall one weekend night around christmas time. Many people would still frequent the mall while they felt safe but gangs were getting to be a problem in the mall. in the summer of 2001 the first really nice specialty shop (Eddie Bauer) closed over night with no warning. I remember thinking to myself this is the beginning of many closures that will take place out here over the next few years. I was very right.

A new outdoor style shopping mall was built in the thriving East Montgomery and opened in November of 2002. This made Montgomery Mall begin falling into the ground almost overnight. Dillard's in Montgomery Mall (formerly Gayfers) announced in December of 2003 they would be closing their Montgomery Mall store in early spring and would have their store across town at Eastdale Mall and a new store at Eastchase Mall. In January of 2004 about a month after Dillard"s announcement JCPenney announces it willl build a new store at Eastdale Mall and close at Montgomery Mall in early 2005. In the year between Dillard"s and JCPenney's departures many specialty stores and resturants began to leave. Some of these were The Limited, Bath&Body works, The Disney store, Walden Books, Wet Seal, Ruby Tuesday, and the Pub just to name a few.

In January of 2006 Parisian announces they will be closing their location at this mall in early spring. This is the final real anchor store left at the mall that will soon be gone. One new so called anchor has opened in the first floor of the old Dillard's which is Steve & Barry's University Sportswear. It is debateble how well they are doing. I went to the mall two weeks ago for the final week of Parisian. The mall in General is a sad site all the way around. Most all of the chain specialty shops are gone and being replaced with many that people have never heard of. These seem to come and go on a regular basis. Rumors are now going around that the mall will close and be demolished for senior housing to be built on the property. Who knows the future of this mall? The management is always getting defensive saying in the local newspaper and local news stations that redevelopment is coming. Customers and the few tenants that are left all say they will believe it when they see it happen. This mall in this day in time continues to take one step forward and ten steps backward on a regular basis. It is very sad to see what once was the premiere shopping mall with beautiful architecture throughout become a ghost town. Many people do not even want to come out to this mall anymore because of the reputation this mall has developed over the last few years and the fact their are no stores hardly left here.










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