Blake Hutchison's Commentary

Posted July 9, 2007 (user submitted)

I was driving down State Route 51 today, and a few minutes after I crossed I-280, I noticed a mall to my left that looked like it was healthy from the outside, but there were almost no cars in the parking lot. On a Saturday afternoon! This peaked my curiousity, making me think it might be another potential submission.

The mall looks like it was maybe built in the early 80's. One of the things that makes me suspect this is the interior design with heavy focus on natural lighting.

The Woodville Mall (which is actually in the same county as the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green, but much closer to Toledo) is fully anchored, but there are almost no stores between the anchors.

Anchors are Sears, Elder Beerman, and The Anderson's, which is a grocery/hardware/general store (very common in Northwestern Ohio). There is also a Fox Theater, which wasn't open when I was in the mall this afternoon, but had recent showtimes listed, so I assume it's still in business.

The Anderson's has three entrances, one outside, and two in the mall, which are about 100 feet apart (it's not L-shaped or anything) and The larger mall entrance into the mall has been sealed, but you can still see in the windows. The smaller entrance, which has checkout lanes in front of it, is still open into the mall. I am assuming this is an effort to prevent theft, since there are no checkouts at the larger entrance, and The Andersons is not typically a mall store.

The Sears wing is completely bereft of stores other than Sears, with the exception of an investment office that has set up shop here. The movie theater wing has the movie theater and a nail shop closer to the exit, and that's it.

The Elder Beerman wing has about three occupancies other than Elder Beerman. There's a GNC, what I believe was another nail salon, and some store selling windows, which wasn't open. The Elder Beerman itself doesn't look like it has been renovated since the 1980s on the lower level. The signage still has those rounded fonts they used back then, where the E looks like a C with a line (not to be confused with the Euro symbol.)

I think a number of factors have contributed to the decline of Woodville:

  1. Location - The location is really odd. It's on the outer edge of one of Toledo's outer suburbs. If you drive a half mile east of the mall, there's nothing but fields and grass for miles.
  2. I-280 closure for over a year, which just happened to occur as Franklin Park renovated and nearly doubled in size. The area of north-east Toledo just north of the Maumee River, and east of Detroit street, is about the same distance from Franklin Park as they are from Woodville. The problem is that for people in this part of town, there really is no practical way to cross the Maumee without using I-280, unless they want to go several miles out of their way, and/or fight congested downtown streets.
  3. Economic Issues. Oregon and Northwood are nice, but they do not really seem large enough to support a mall on their own. There are also a lot of less affluent neighborhoods just west of Northwood. People in these neighborhoods can't really afford to shop in the mall, and prefer the Great Eastern shopping center, which has stores like Goodwill, Value City, and Dollar General.

I have no idea whether to say the mall looks like it has a chance, or whether to say it is doomed. It looks like it could go either way. The anchors do okay, but they don't necessarily need the mall to survive...

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