Greater Philly mall thread: The good, the bad, and the dead.

Discussion in 'The Suburbs' started by Nytecat, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    The Auntie Anne's has been gone for at least a few months now. I can't exactly say when they split though. As far as Kay Jewelers goes, I'm surprised but not surprised. We all know about GNC and Bath & Body Works...these are chains that are tend to stick around in even the deadest of malls. Then there's a group of stores that is more hit and miss. Kay Jewelers, Victoria's Secret, and Subway frequently appear in dead malls though they're not as ubiquitous as GNC and B&BW. Chick Fil A is also an enigma. They lingered in Schuylkill Mall until 2010 or so and they stayed at Granite Run until a couple months before its final closure. I was surprised when the Voorhees CFA left earlier this year as the mall wasn't yet that dead.

    Even with today's bloodbath in the retail sector, I'm starting to wonder if the landlord is trying to retain tenants or if they're not renewing leases so they can expedite the building's transition to non retail use.
     
  2. Shadowbat

    Shadowbat Well-Known Member

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  3. dontforget

    dontforget Well-Known Member

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    I read that article and I don't know why an article was written assuming relation between the two. The two outlet malls are quite far apart at 46 miles, serving different markets.

    It's easy getting typical parking lot parking at Gloucester also and likely it tailors to those in the immediate three county area (Camden, Gloucester and maybe Cumberland), where as the Walk is in Atlantic City over multiple blocks, street or other Atlantic City parking, and not really convenient for Camden and Gloucester County residents. Gloucester Outlets is likely making Voorhees and Moorestown Malls less a draw. Fortunately, Deptford Mall is strong enough to co-exist with Gloucester Outlets.
     
  4. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Blaming a downturn at The Walk on the Gloucester outlets sounds like a bit of a stretch to me too. Maybe some shoppers from inner South Jersey counties made the drive to get certain deals before Gloucester opened. But after considering time, gas, and tolls (if taking the expressway), was it really a big draw?

    I made my final visits to the JCPs at Willow Grove and Philadelphia Mills over the weekend. It's slim pickings at this point and now it's mostly store fixtures for sale. I guess Simon will try to poach one of the stores off of Street Road to fill their JCP space and PREIT will seek something "experiential" for Willow Grove as that seems to be their approach lately.
     
  5. Jayfar

    Jayfar Junior Old Fart

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    #245 Jayfar, Jul 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  6. Jayfar

    Jayfar Junior Old Fart

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  7. dontforget

    dontforget Well-Known Member

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    I have enjoyed Dan Bell's You Tube videos on dead malls. I wonder if he was there to make one for Voorhees Town Center, or he was just visiting as a guest? I'm not sure a video would be interesting though for someone out of the area, although the upper level would have a lot of empty store fronts for good footage. The NY Times identifies it as a central NJ mall (which it is not).

    I did visit Marley Station Mall after seeing his video, and found the mall not as dead as I thought it would be, though. It was just high vacancy like Exton in some corridors, but not still attracting customers otherwise and enough stores still in business.

    The way PREIT has been neglecting Moorestown Mall, it won't be long before it shifts into the dead mall video touring.
     
  8. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Interesting to see Dan at Voorhees Town Center. I don't expect a video of VTC though. He visited Coventry Mall and said it was very bland and generic. It almost wasn't worth his while. That describes Voorhees' decor to a tee. He probably didn't find the mall's current appearance compelling enough to make a video on.

    Mooorestown is busy in the middle but looks increasingly bare at the extremities except for the movie theater. I'm concerned too but let's see what they're doing with Macy's before we hit the panic button.

    I visited both Cumberland Mall and the Vineland Sears on Saturday and they did not disappoint. Cumberland is doing surprisingly well with only four vacancies among 56 inline spaces. They even have an Aeropostale which is now a rarity in PREIT malls. Many of the other stores are mom and pop and the mall serves a lower income customer base. But for the time being Cumberland appears stable. And the Sears was simply gorgeous vintage retail inside and out. I could try telling you but I think this video I found sums up what I'm trying to say. I'm simply amazed this place survived until 2017. :)

     
  9. dontforget

    dontforget Well-Known Member

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    Nytecat, thanks for sharing the Cumberland/Vineland trip experience!

    I made a recent mall visit myself to the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, MD on a trip from Pittsburgh to DC. It's a PREIT owned mall, that lost Macy's and is losing Sears, with Sears closing soon. It's a one level mall like Moorestown and Cumberland, and maybe around the same size. This mall is doing quite well with few vacancies and many familiar tenants, despite the loss of Macy's and Sears. The mall has JCPenney and The Bon Ton as other anchors.

    What is not surprising is that Macy's had the least visible anchor spot and in the back of the mall. That is, it is not visible from the main mall entrance. It must have been an anchor that was added as an extension. wikipedia history lists that Hecht's was added a later time from the original design of the mall.

    It is by a foodcourt though. And across the former Macy's, is a Target/Kohl's center. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. On one hand, it's better than facing a forest, but not I'm sure if Target/Kohl's helped Macy's at all. If anything, one might be inclined to save money by just going there to Target and Kohl's, instead of Macy's.

    Meanwhile, The Bon Ton has the central location and best anchor spot in the mall and is the first store the eye sees when one enters the mall complex. Sears has a better spot than Macy's, and it might be worthwhile for Boscov to consider opening there. But the mall has a lot of competition with a Target/Kohl's combination, as mentioned, in a center across the Macy's anchor, along the JCPenney and Bon Ton. And there is the Hagerstown Premium Outlets nearby to the Valley Mall. So, in the end, I'm not sure if Boscov would pursue space in the mall, but most likely the Sears site will re-fill before the Macy's site (if it ever does).

    What is interesting is according to wikipedia:
    "On July 22, 2017, it was announced that Bon-Ton would be closing in February 2018 as it lease expires. It will be replaced by Belk in October 2018." That is a lot of department store change.

    Bon-Ton to close Valley Mall store in 2018
     
    #249 dontforget, Aug 3, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  10. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the summary on Valley Mall. The issues of mall layout and how it interacts with surrounding roads, transit, and other retail quickly comes to light with this one. In terms of productivity, Valley Mall is in the middle of the pack for PREIT. Not as good as Cherry Hill or Woodland but better than Logan Valley and Exton.

    Interesting to hear that Belk will be replacing Bon Ton which, as a chain, is almost as endangered as Sears. Does Belk already extend this far north or is Hagerstown an expansion for them?

    Did you get to see any other malls along the way? Francis Scott Key Mall in the Washington exurb of Frederick is another PREIT property.

    Finally, I paid a brief visit to Voorhees today. Kay Jewelers used to really brighten up that corner and now that spot looks extra dead as a result. I'm surprised Payless here isn't closing.
     
  11. dontforget

    dontforget Well-Known Member

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    I haven't visited the Francis Scott Key Mall but I did visit the freestanding Boscov in Frederick (attached to another former dead mall) awhile ago.

    Apparently, Belk has two other stores in Maryland, and Maryland is as far north as it reaches. It does pride itself as a Southern chain so maybe it won't cross the Mason Dixon line into PA. It would be nice though to see a new chain try in the Philly region as Maryland is not so far south from Philly.

    I wonder what will happen to Voorhees Town Center. I think the enclosed part of the mall could be totally converted to some new use like a college campus, but there is likely little interest. It's too bad that South Jersey in general, outside of a few pocket areas, doesn't garner much interest for development and re-development. The latest building craze seems to be happening in the Marlton/Evesham area with luxury apartments, urgent care centers and new stores.
     
  12. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Ah, so you visited the old Frederick Towne Mall then. Dan and Ace both have videos of this facility on Youtube. I wouldn't mind seeing that place either someday. I could understand Belk not wanting to move into PA both because of the Mason-Dixon thing and because Boscov's is already occupying a niche market here. But I wonder if Delaware is a possibility? I came across an article that said that Concord and Dover malls are both facing some challenges going forward. To be sure, Concord looked alive but a bit forlorn the last time I visited. Local malls may need makeovers to stay competitive

    This article touches on Blue Hen Mall, a mall to office transformation in Dover, and Voorhees Town Center as possible strategies for struggling malls to follow. Strangely, they make Voorhees sound like a success story. If only they could bring in doctors, schools, and non-profits as quickly as stores are fleeing. They have one partially furnished office space ready to go next to Boscov's but so far no takers.

    I can think of malls in Austin, Nashville, and Greenville, SC, that are now mainly used by colleges but still maintain varying amounts of publically accessible space. The Mountaineer Mall in West Virginia is largely occupied largely by offices and they have maintained a very vintage looking concourse. The previous owners of the Schuylkill Mall tried to follow that plan but they couldn't bring in enough non-retail tenants fast enough to compensate for departing stores.
     
  13. dontforget

    dontforget Well-Known Member

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    I did indeed go to the Frederick Towne Mall Boscov, but the mall side was locked up when I went. I couldn't re-create the experience from the Youtube video unfortunately.

    Time magazine had an article "The Death and Life of the Shopping Mall" from it's July 31 edition. It's worth checking out, and the article highlights some familiar malls like the Schuylkill Mall as well as King of Prussia.

    There was one part I found interesting on re-use:
    "Some ailing malls have already moved on to a second life. Austin Community College in Texas purchased Highland Mall in 2012 and converted part of it into a tech-driven learning lab and library. In Nashville, Vanderbilt University Medical Center moved into the second floor of the 100 Oaks Mall a few miles from downtown. The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., bought their nearby mall and transformed part of it into an auditorium"

    Although Voorhees is no Austin, it would be great if a tech-driven learning lab came to Voorhees Town Center. However, Camden County College opened a Rohrer campus in Cherry Hill off Route 70 about 15 years ago (but still looks new relative to their very old buildings on their main campus). It's a nice facility but isolated on Route 70, and not all that large.

    And there is a decent township library in Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Library, which is worth checking out. It's probably wishful thinking on my part, but facilities like those that are larger and connected into the Voorhees Town Center would be great for Camden County. Back in the late 90s, Mt. Laurel became home to a satellite NJIT campus. NJIT pulled out, and Drexel later affiliated with the campus, and now it's Rowan, but it was a decent satellite campus in South Jersey from then. I don't think a regional university satellite campus would work in Voorhees as it has struggled in Mt. Laurel, but a decent county college satellite campus and new library in VTC would go a long way to make living in the county desirable.

    On another note, I still also wonder what's the fate of Neshaminy and Oxford Valley. In some way, I think these malls should be co-owned. With the macy's closure in these malls, will malls like Neshaminy and Moorestown get any new tenants that are not mom&pop stores? Moorestown is the one that I check in on it the most and there was one new establishment, an eyebrow place that opened up by the Sears, but a number of stores/establishments have been lost. The few the came on board like H&M happened before macy's announced closure. I still wonder had Macy's announced closure six months to one year prior, would H&M have gone into the mall.
     
    #253 dontforget, Aug 12, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  14. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Those are all good intriguing points. It remains to be seen if anything collegiate can be lured to VTC. It sounds like anyone who wants to open a satellite campus in Camden County has done so and the only way Voorhees will get one is if someone relocates. Still, Echelon Mall was intended to be a complete community center from the beginning with the library, office buildings, and apartments nearby. Maybe an updated library in the mall proper would be a big help with the existing library becoming something else. I wonder how often the topic of the mall comes up at township meetings?

    Malls can do well in the shadow of larger counterparts if they are compact and able to adapt to a changing marketplace. Here are a few big malls followed by a little brother who manages to be successful in their own right. It helps to be in a relatively affluent area.

    Quaker Bridge...MarketFair.
    South Hills Village...Galleria at Mt. Lebanon.
    Towson Town Center...The Shops at Kenilworth.
    Rosedale Center...Har Mar Mall.
    And Seattle's Bellevue Square has two vibrant little indoor properties in the vicinity: Marketplace @ Factoria and Crossroads Bellevue.

    I don't think having the same owner would help Oxford Valley and Neshaminy. Wouldn't a single owner end up favoring one mall over the other? And the loss of Macy's at local malls troubles me a lot. Except for Voorhees, all our failed malls have one thing in common and that's they didn't have a Macy's. Burlington Center didn't truly die until after Macy's left. With that said, I think national retailers will still consider Moorestown and Neshaminy in the short term. But only if they can get space in their highly trafficked middle parts at a favorable rate. And let's hope some local based chains can pick up the slack too. Uncanny, for instance, is now open at three area malls and could become Philly's answer to Boston's Newbury Comics.
     
    #254 Nytecat, Aug 13, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  15. Nytecat

    Nytecat Well-Known Member

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    Here's an update on Coventry Mall. There have been several major changes including a new mall entrance which goes through the former Gap right next to Sears. The Sears anchor space is now fully occupied and split between Limerick Furniture and Gabe's. What is Gabe's? They are a new to the area discounter best compared to Burlington Coat Factory with blue instead of red as their identifying color. I asked a mall manager why Gabe's didn't have direct mall access. He said that this is their first mall location; all of their other stores are freestanding. No mall access was one of their conditions.

    Except for Pier 1 Imports and TGI Friday's, all stores in the old Sears wing are moving to the main corridor. The empty spaces left here are being marketed for eating and drinking establishments to compliment TGI. Schuylkill Valley Sports, which threatened to leave altogether, is now a seasonal tenant between November and April. Finally, the former Ross space, is going to become a medical clinic.

    Despite all the work and improvements taking place, Coventry can still be considered a dead mall. But compared to Voorhees and Burlington Center, it's amazing to see increasing signs of life for a change.
     
  16. Jayfar

    Jayfar Junior Old Fart

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    Living in luxury: New wing at KoP Mall a hit | Philly.com
     

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