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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summit Place Mall- [Waterford Township (Pontiac), Michigan]


          Summit Place mall is perhaps the latest most endangered mall entering the news. Located in Waterford Township, better known as Pontiac, Michigan. I made a B line from Chicago Detroit this past weekend to see this mall finally as articles began being published how the mall is considered dangerous and is coming down by the end of July. I later learn it could take almost a year before the city is clear to demolish the mall. I also wanted to see the Pontiac Silverdome, the abandoned, former Detroit Lions arena, that I heard was demolished last spring, but I was there to see it still in one piece, a picture is provided at the end of this post.

          Summit Place, originally Pontiac Mall, opened with great fanfare in the early 1960's, and several renovations and additions through the decades lasted until the early 2000's, as the economic status of the city, and surrounding competition, brought Summit Mall to the state it is today.

          Enjoy listening to Eminem's When I'm Gone, which I felt to be the most fitting to this post as the name of the song states "when i'm gone", the stores are gone in this case, and the rapper is from neighboring Detroit.

The Mall

         Summit Mall opened as Pontiac Mall in 1963 with Hudson's Budget Store, later converting to a full-line store, Montgomery Ward, Kroger and Kresge along with 30 inline stores. Sears opened in the early 1970's at the north end of the mall, although not connected to the mall itself. 

This aerial shot of the mall shows how it expanded in stages of the past decades.


          The creepiest thing that happened at this mall was in 1972 when Little Jenny, an elephant that starred in the 1954 movie Elephant Walk, died at the mall while doing a show, and was later buried on the mall property, to this day, the remains have to be under the parking lot, or under a store.

The mall and Kmart on Elizabeth Lake and M-59/ M-24

          Pontiac Mall was expanded with a new wing going from the Montgomery Ward store ending at a new JCPenney store. Service Merchandise later opened in part of the Hudson's department store. Around 1989-1990, the mall was expanded again with a wing going from the JCPenney store to the new Mainstreet store, later converted to Kohl's in 1989. 

          During this renovation, a food court called Picnic Place was added and the mall changed names from Pontiac Mall, to Summit Place Mall. The size of the mall consisted of 6 anchor stores and 200 inline stores, the largest of its time, that would remain until the early 1990's.

          Service Merchandise closed in 1999, and Wards closed in 2001. Hudson's renovated in 2000, a year later, in 2001 converted to Marshall Field's after Dayton-Hudson merged with Target and Federated in 2006 when the Field's converted to Macy's. After the loss of these anchor stores, the mall began to loss inline stores with the competition that opened in nearby Auburn Hills in 1998, Great Lakes Crossing began to steal customers.

          General Growth Properties sold the mall in 2002 to a California investment form that purposed a water park entertainment center for the mall property, but none of that proposal went through as the city did not believe there investment would pay off to there return.

          Through the rest of the 2000's, mall tenants continued to close, and Kohl's closed in March 2009. After Kohl's closed, the mall was 96% vacant, shortly after in September 2009, the entire mall closed except the three anchor stores. In January 2010, Macy's and JCPenney both announced they would close there stores at Summit Place in March. 

          The last remaining tenant of the mall, Sears, announced is September 2014 that is would close in December 2014. After the mall closed, it became a magnet for vandals, and scrappers that brought the overall appearance of property down with the rest of Pontiac.

Here are the pictures I took of the mall at surrounding retail in July 2016.

Former Dunkin Donuts/ Baskin Robins

Former Mainstreet/ Kohl's

Former Sears

Former Picnic Place food court entrance

Former JCPenney

Back end of the former Hudson's/ Marshall Field's/ Macy's and Service Merchandise

Front entrance with the old Ruby Tuesday, Boater's World, and the mall entrance

Better shot of the old Kohl's, formerly Mainstreet

Front side of the former Hudson's/ Marshall Field's/ Macy's.

The crumbling remains of Pontiac's once great shopping mall.

Around the mall

          Not only is the mall closed down, almost every other store surrounding the mall property along Telegraph road, Summit Drive, and Elizabeth Lake Road is closed and abandoned. Stores that are open made there home in long gone national chain stores like Circuit City, Mervyns, and Media Play. Stores that left for business reasons like Best Buy, Sam's Club, and Target are now taken by independent retailers and public centers.

          Here are all the stores surrounding Summit Mall, placing the names of the former occupants the best to my knowledge.

Summit West

          Summit Mall developer's opened Summit Crossing, known at Summit West in 1991 featuring OfficeMax, Target, The Sports Authority, and Farmer Jack, a well known Michigan-based grocery store at the time.

         Dollar General is surprisingly still open, such a small store in an otherwise empty plaza does not make sense.

The store to the far right in this photo was Sports Authority,

          The former Target that closed in the late 2000's. There is a college to the left of the old Target and there sign at the plaza entrance covered the Target sign, although on the other side of it, the college sign fell off revealing Target (I do not have a picture of that).

Former Target
          The rest of the center covered by plants. I cannot place where the Farmer Jack was located, possibly at the far end next to Target, which is now a college.

Former Sam's Club.
Former Sam's Club
Summit North

          In 1993, Summit North was constructed next to Summit West featuring Best Buy and a much larger Builder Square that moved across Telegraph from Oakland Pointe. The Builder Square was converted to Home Quarters (HQ) in 1997 after HQ merged with Hechinger 1995 and later merged into Builder Square, which was once owned by Kmart. Converting the Builder Square to HQ gave a new market a different store the cheapest way possible. Lasting only a few short years before the entire closed in 1999.

Gander Mountain opened next to Best Buy in 1995.

Former Gander Mountain
An early Best Buy style as this store opened in 1991.
Former Best Buy
Steve & Barry's occupied part of the former BS/HQ in 2006, closing in early 2009 with the rest of the chain.

Former Home Quarters (HQ)

Not sure where the Steve & Barry's store was, possibly next to the old Target

Oakland Pointe

          This is one of the first shopping centers to be built near the mall in the early 1980's. The center originally was anchored by Builder Square, Mervyns, Toys 'R' Us/ Kids 'R' Us, Marshalls, Circuit City, and Media Play. Builder Square closed and moved across the street to a much larger store in the early 1990's to Summit North. The rest of the stores left through the 90's and 2000's. Mervyns closed around 2006, all that is left now is Toys 'R' Us and a Big Lots. Forman Mills opened in the former Mervyns not to long ago.

          Here is the former Circuit City, and Media Play, which is now a Value World. The Circuit City is still empty and there is a Harbor Freight Tools in what appears to be an old Office Depot.

Former Media Play, next to former Office Depot, next to what clearly was a Circuit City
Oakland Pointe seen across the street, the Toys 'R' Us in plain view, and the rest of the center.

Oakland Pointe and Summit Place across from each other on Telegraph road.

          I am very good at taking pictures while the car is moving, but I occasionally take a blurry picture, and realize it until I come home. This is however the former Mervyns that is now a Forman Mills.

Here is picture of the Silverdome down the road...

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