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?
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