Martin Claggett's Commentary

Posted September 3, 2006 (user submitted)

Capital Plaza Mall was probably Maryland's loneliest mall, as a matter of fact, it was probably the loneliest mall in the Washington DC Metro Area. I've only visited the mall on several occasions in 2003 & 2004, but the times I visited the mall, it wasn't like any other mall I've seen, and not in a good way. Even Landover Mall (now defunct except for Sears) had more excitement, and that mall was slowly dying too (go figure).

Capital Plaza Mall was to my knowledge, built in the late 60's early 70's, and it was like your typical average American mall, but things took a turn for the worse in the late 90's. It all began when not one, but two major anchors moved out. The first was Hechinger, a formerly large DC hardware chain. In mid-1999, it moved out of the mall when the whole company shut down its 117 stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Ironically, a few months later, the infamous Montgomery Wards filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed 250 of its 500 outlets. The Wards at Capital Plaza was one of the unlucky 250 outlets.

With Hechinger and Wards closing, this dealt a fatal blow to Capital Plaza Mall. Foot traffic declined drastically and the mall started to slowly fade away. With years passing by, tiny struggling buisness tenants started to move out and nobody rushed to replace them. Everywhere you went in the mall there was an empty storefront. Mall upkeep was also bad. The tile on the floor was lumpy, the bathrooms were disgusting, and some sections of the mall were not well lit. So this made it dangerous at dusk. The Wards connected to the mall was shuttered but never demolished, so it was just a dull, empty building with a large labelscar. Even the food court had nothing but one ice cream kiosk. The only things keeping the mall alive was a Foot Locker, a McDonalds which was an outparcel, and antique store, the annual carnival, and the UniverSoul Circus held on the parking lot.

Finally in 2005, Capital Plaza Mall finally ended its life. The mall was leased by Wal-Mart after a local lobbying campaign, so as of currently the 1,805,560 square feet of the mall has been demolished and the construction of Wal-Mart has begun. However, Capital Plaza will always be remembered as the once thriving mall it was.

Links - "Capital Plaza Could Have Sheltered the Hurricane Refugees"
An Article Of What The Mall Could Have Done In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Katrina
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