Raymie's Commentary

Posted January 13, 2011 (user submitted May 18, 2008)

Camelview Plaza and Scottsdale Fashion Square: Scottsdale, AZ

One of these malls died by being bought out by the other. And under it all, the one that died did so because it was across the street from the other mall.

In 1961, a three-level open-air structure - what would become Scottsdale Fashion Square - opened in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona; it was then expanded in 1974. Three years after Fashion Square expanded, Camelview Plaza was built directly across 70th Street from the older mall. We've seen other dead malls on this site that fell because they were near others; Orland Square/Orland Park, Wilton/Saratoga, and many more come to mind. So, naturally one had to fall.

Camelview Plaza had Bullock's and Sakowitz and an outparcel theater run by Harkins (local theater chain); the theater actually opened in 1973. Fashion Square had Goldwater's (local), AJ Bayless (local supermarket), and then Diamond's (local, part of the 1974 expansion).

Westcor purchased Fashion Square in 1982 and the owners of Camelview Plaza and Westcor then agreed to build a two-story bridge over 70th Street, which would replace an intermall shuttle service (?!). 70th Street was sunk below grade level, widened, AND renamed North Goldwater Boulevard in the process. Both malls were renovated; the supermarket was torn down and merged with the Diamond's to house a Dillard's. The J.W. Robinson (Goldwater's) was expanded, a lower level food court and 7-screen Harkins cinema were added (two theaters...this doesn't make much sense), and even Fashion Square got enclosed with a novel system of glass skylights that were retractable. Everything was done by 1991.

In the time that followed, places like the Scottsdale Galleria, Borgata, and Fashion Square-Camelview Plaza were sought after by luxury builders and shops that thought Scottsdale was the next luxury big thing. Sakowitz was reshaped into a Neiman Marcus in 1992, and many of the new luxury shops that opened closed down because of a young market. Neiman Marcus actually stayed due to good sales.

J.W. Robinson was bought out by May, becoming Robinsons-May in 1993. Bullock's walked out of Camelview in 1995. And during all this time, the two connected malls were separate in all other ways. 1996 saw a big change and the death of Camelview, as Westcor bought it out and renamed the whole place Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Another major expansion for Fashion Square came in the late 90s. Nordstrom came, a 235,000 square foot, three-level monster south of the rest of the mall. Another bridge was built to connect Nordstrom to the rest of the mall. Parking garages were also added, and when it was all done with, stores new to Arizona landed, like Tiffany & Co, Swarovski, and Brooks Brothers. Dillard's moved to the Bullock's space. When that was expanded, it became 365,000 square feet and the largest in the chain. Fashion Square became the 13th largest enclosed mall in the country. The first Macy's came in 2002, and 2004 saw a Macerich branding initiative (Westcor got bought out by them in 2002) of "luxury malls": Fashion Square was one of them. More new stores came, and that's still the case today. The Robinsons-May was torn down after the Macy's merger, and a Barney's New York, extra anchor, and more store space will replace it.

But Camelview Plaza was once part of it. Today, it has been absorbed by the sprawling Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Camelback Road corridor is renowned for Fashion.

Ross' Commentary

Posted January 13, 2011 (user submitted August 1, 2006)

Scottsdale Camelview Plaza opened in 1972 near the intersection of Scottsdale and Camelback Roads in Scottsdale, Arizona. The mall was located just west of existing Scottsdale Fashion Square, which opened in 1961. Unlike Fashion Square, this mall was always an enclosed mall. It had two anchors: Neiman Marcus and Bullock's. The mall interior was relatively drab and plain compared to Fashion Square. From the times that I visited it in the mid-1990s, I remember that it had a collection of stores common for the time and a Waldenbooks. If I remember, the roof had a long lengthwise thin skylight and it was relatively dimly lit.

Originally, the mall was completely separate from Fashion Square and the two malls competed. That changed in 1991, when Fashion Square underwent a complete renovation and became an enclosed mall. (Since I started coming to this mall in 1993, there appear to be no traces of the 1961 construction both inside and outside, even though the 1961 mall was not demolished). Also in 1991 Fashion Square Mall was extended via a "retail bridge" across Goldwater Boulevard to connect with Camelview. Despite the expansion of Fashion Square, Camelview managed to maintain a separate identity.

In the mid-1990s, Fashion Square embarked on an expansion program to build a new south wing and a new Nordstrom's. At the same time, Bullock's closed and Fashion Square continued to thrive (it still does). In 1996, the mall lost the battle with the larger and more modern Fashion Square, and the owner of Fashion Square (Westcor) purchased Camelview. The mall finally closed in 1996.

But the story does not end here. With the coming of Nordstrom's and an expansion of Scottsdale Fashion Square, Dillard's decided to expand its space at Fashion Square. In 1998, the ENTIRE Camelview Plaza space was converted into a Dillard's (except for Neiman Marcus, which remained) This is the largest Dillard's department store in the United States and the largest department store in Arizona. The Dillard's incorporated part of the Bullock's and the entire Camelview Plaza mall was gutted in order to install the Dillard's.

Today, the exterior of Camelview Plaza is to a great deal intact. It is largely different from the Fashion Square exterior. The Neiman Marcus is still there, but the main entrance was incorporated into the 1991 Fashion Square expansion. However, there are few traces of the interior of Camelview Plaza. The Dillard's interior gives very little evidence to show that there once was a shopping mall in this space. Nevertheless, it appears that the space occupied by Bullock's is still intact inside, because the ceiling becomes more square rather than round, and there is a rotunda escalator that appears to be left over from Bullock's. Nevertheless, it is certainly an interesting reuse for a dead mall.

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