|City/Town: • Montgomery|
|Location Class: • Commercial|
|Built: • 1968 | Abandoned: • 2008|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
History of Montgomery Mall
Montgomery Mall was an enclosed shopping mall located in Montgomery, Alabama, featuring two anchor stores; Montgomery Fair and JCPenney. Montgomery Fair was the first department store to open in 1967, and the rest of the mall was completed the following year. Other major tenants at the time included Lerner New York, Morrison’s Cafeteria, Singer Sewing Center, and Elmore Variety Store. In 1970, the Mobile-based department store Gayfers purchased Montgomery Fair and was converted to the former.
Located just four miles from Normandale Shopping Center, the two malls complemented each other as shoppers could find entirely different offerings at the two malls. In 1988, Montgomery Mall was expanded, adding a new wing anchored by Birmingham-based Parisian. This expansion was needed in order to compete with Eastdale Mall which opened in 1977. Eastdale Mall contained Gayfers, Sears, Parisian, and Pizitz, which by 1988 had converted to McRae’s. Despite the overlap in stores, both continued to thrive for the next couple of decades.
Decline and Closure
In 1998, Glimcher Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust that invested in shopping malls, bought Montgomery Mall for $70 million. By then, the mall had a 95 percent occupancy such as Piccadilly Cafeteria, Gap, Eddie Bauer, Ruby Tuesday, and American Eagle Outfitters. However, by the early 2000s, several stores including JCPenney and Dillard’s, which acquired the Gayfers chain in 1998. Dillard’s closed their store in 2003 and moved to The Shoppes at Eastchase. JCPenney followed, opening a new store in Eastdale Mall in 2005 and subsequently closing their Montgomery Mall store.
Although Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear replaced the former Dilliard’s in 2005, Parisian closed the following year, as did several other stores. In 2007, Mayor Bobby Bright blamed Glimcher for running the mall into the ground, criticizing them for using the mall for a tax write-off, and said that they “never showed willingness” to improve it. Glimcher sold the mall in May 2007 for $4.4 million. Steve & Barry’s remained until September 2008 when they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which later converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation.
Although much of the mall remains empty, the anchor store buildings have been sold off and repurposed for use by the City of Montgomery and the city’s School Board. The city has invested $30 million so far for a new Public Safety/Police Precinct and Fire Station along with the Board of Education for two separate schools; Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) High School and Montgomery Preparatory Academy For Career Technologies (MPACT).
In 2015, developers from Blue Ridge Capital and city and county leaders announce the next step in the ongoing revitalization of the facility. The mall was renamed One Center. A large banner now hangs from the side of a building on the mall property proclaiming the complex’s new identity. The “N” in One draws from the old mall’s arched logo.
“There will be retail here, which we’re really excited about, as well as the food court is coming back,” said Beverly Callaway, the project director at One Center. “There will be restaurants here, places for people to eat, as well as Mayor Strange said we’re looking at a couple different companies that are looking to come in that have like 600 employees.”