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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rolling Acres Mall (Akron, Ohio) TTTM Special Coverage

          A long waited request has finally come true, as a trip to Cleveland last week brought me south to the city of Akron, Ohio, famous in the mall community for being home to the long abandoned Rolling Acres Mall. The mall originally opened with Sears at its primary anchor store and 21 inline stores on August 6, 1975. From that point in time, the mall grew and expanded several times with additional anchors and attractions, later to decline in sales and fall into ruins.

          By the end of 1975, the mall had over 50 inline stores and a year later, JCPenney opened on the east side of the mall. A new court called "Court of Aquarius" opened which housed a very large aqua feature and sea life. That same year, in 1977, Montgomery Ward opened in the mall and further expansion in 1978 brought Akron-based department store chain O'Neil's and another two-story wing complete with the food court. Everything was going nowhere but up at Rolling Acres for the first several years of business and throughout the 1980's.

          The 1980's did however bring several changes to Rolling Acres, first a mall-wide renovation eliminated the original "earth tone" color scheme in favor of more pastel colors. Montgomery Ward closed its doors in 1986 and replaced by Cleveland-based department store chain Higbee's, later to be bought by Dillard's. The O'Neil's department store converted to May Co (Ohio) in 1989.

          The beginning of the 1990's was when Rolling acres began to "roll" down hill, the first mistake being in 1991 by not relying on off duty Akron police to monitor the mall, instead hiring cheap, inexperienced security guards that lead to a crime outbreak in the proceeding several years. In 1992, Higbee's converted to Dillard's and May Co converted to Kaufmann's in 1993 and the General Cinema closed.

          Target was the final addition to the mall in 1995, as the mall started to loose stores more rapidly. Both JCPenney and Dillard's were downgraded to clearance centers between 1997 and 1999.

          The mall was sold in 2000, which introduced the green hills and yellow sun logo that is familiar around the now abandoned mall. The cinema changed hands several times becoming a discount theater.

          The first anchor store to closed was Target in 2006, which moved to a new location in neighboring Wadsworth, Ohio. The Dillard's clearance center closed in August 2006, and September 2006, the Kaufmann's was rebranded as Macy's.

          The Macy's store later closed in February 2008. In April 2008, all the malls assets, which included all the fixtures were auctioned off, and the theater closed for the third and final time. By October 2008, the last remaining inline tenants were noticed to immediately terminate there leases as the electricity  had been shut off.

          On October 31, 2008, all power was disconnected from the mall, and the last inline store closed, this however, not effecting Sears or JCPenney, because those are corporately owned, the mall had no control over there power.

          The mall went to auction in May 2009, although several people apparently showed interest in purchasing the mall, not one bid was placed. The mall was sold in 2010, and in April, Sears closed within a month. In January 2011, JCPenney announced it was be closing all its outlet stores, including the Rolling Acres location. Another company bought the rights to the JCPenney outlet stores, and renamed them JC's 5 Star Outlet. The Sears store was purchased in June 2012 for a recycling center.

          In October 2013, the owner of the JC's 5 Star Outlets announced the closure of all there stores. On December 31, 2013, the last remaining store (JC's 5 Star Outlet) in the mall closed, leaving the mall 100% empty.

          Today, only the Sears is occupied by a recycling center and the former Target is used for public storage. Several failed auctions, backed property taxes, and sheriff sales leave the mall and the city of Akron in a very tight spot, and whether or not it will be resolved is rhetorical.

The former O'Neil's/ May Co./ Kaufmann's/ Macy's store.

The mall's street sign has been gone quite some time, no pictures seem to be available on the internet to show what it looked like.

The sign the man in the party hat is holding seems to be a perfect fit.

Former Sears in the distance.

Back side of the former Sears anchor, which is being used as a recycling center.

Such a great shot of the entrance, note the doors and windows have been boarded up with sheet metal and sand, to prevent water from going in possibly?

Thank you for reading Trip to the Mall and continue to follow us on Facebook.

Monday, June 13, 2016

City View- The Toxic Shopping Center (Garfield Heights, Ohio)

          If something stinks about an entire shopping center closing only a few years after being development, you would not be wrong. City View Center located at Transportation and Interstate 480 outside Cleveland does indeed smell. Opening around spring 2005 with Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, Dick's Sporting Goods, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Circuit City, A.J. Wright, OfficeMax, and Petsmart, it would be a perfect representation of a big-box shopping destination.

          What went wrong really quick was the fact the center was built on a 40 year old landfill of trash and sewage. The ground would constantly be shifting based on the science and logic of decomposer, although this must of been overlooked, as shortly after the pavement was laid, it began to buckle and crack immediately, and the employees and customers complained of smells of gas leaks, which was be the methane from the excrement breaking down in the soil.

          In 2008, Wal-Mart closed because of an evacuation due to methane gas leaks, power failures, and an unstable foundation right before the holiday shopping season. With the big-box people attraction gone, that left few customers coming back to City View because there were other shopping centers minutes away in Garfield Heights and Steelyard Commons in Cleveland. It just did not make sense why the city let someone build here, it is an unsafe location, but is was empty land, and the city only saw dollar signs. Decade prior, there have been many cancers and illnesses linked to the area, but could not have been placed on what exactly caused them. It was the drainage, the rain and sewage in the soil getting into the ground water than flowed to treatment plants that did not fully filtrate the water that went into neighborhood sinks and showers that caused residents to be fully exposed to poisonous water that linked to brain tumors and several dozen deaths.

          Over the years, several other retailers left, some of the planned stores were never completed in the first place, leaving only rusty frames now. The drainage was never completed leaving large containers laying around the vacant land and orange puddles and rust stains plague the parking lot. Today only the Giant Eagle market and some restaurants still operate, for now, as business cannot last much longer, its a ticking time bomb, there will be forced to leave when the city declared the center to be inhabitable. 

          "Dear. Mr. Fantasy" would have been a good tune to listen to as you view my photos I took over the past week, but "The Ship Is Sinking" by Matt Hauser is way more dramatic and fitting.

Here is the former Wal-Mart.

Here is the former Circuit City, as it was a Bottom Dollar foods for a few years, that chain is defunct as well.

Various small stores.

Former OfficeMax, clearly.

Former Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Former Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Former A.J. Wright, then Marshall's a few years later before closing in 2013.

Former Dick's Sporting Goods.

Former Petsmart and a store that never became what was planned.

The last remaining store in the strip.

Funny if this was still open.

I could see this old Wal-Mart cracking in half and sinking like the Titanic.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Randall Park Mall (North Randall, Ohio) 2016 Update

          I can say its been a few years since I first saw the abandoned Randall Park Mall with my own eyes, situated just outside the city of Cleveland in North Randall, Ohio. The first time was much different than a few days ago, as in July 2014, the mall was still intact, the weather was scattered, and demolition was merely dubious.

          After demolition started with the old Higbee's/ Dillard's anchor in December 2014, construction crews inhabited the malls interior for several months deconstructing the electrical and structural aspects of the property before major demolition started throughout 2015 completely removing the interior of the mall, along with Burlington Coat Factory closing and I am assuming the Lasalle furniture store (the last remaining operating store) is leaving for a new location elsewhere.

          In early May 2016, a fire broke out at the old Magic Johnson Movie Theater as has been ruled arson by either squatter activity, or juvenile vandalism, that is at least what I believe, although the true culprit will remain anonymous until further investigation.

          As of June 2016, the entire malls interior was been demolished, leaving only the former anchor stores, excluding the former Higbee's/ Dillard's of course. The former JCPenney is still  the Powersport Institute and Lasalle will be closing shortly.

Here are the retro clips I featured in my original post that feature the malls opening, some great inside shots, and preliminary planning of the malls construction in the the 70's.

Former JCPenney.

All of the malls interior is now gone.

The sign is still up, although the other side is missing.

Former May Co./ Macy's

Former Sears.

Former Horne's/ Burlington Coat Factory/ Lasalle's

Former Magic Johnson Theater.

Former Holiday Inn/ Days Inn, very abandoned and spooky.

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