Why do I say this? Well, usually when an enclosed shopping mall is demolished and replaced with another retail facility, that replacement would be in a different format such as a power or a "lifestyle" center. Parkway Place was a rarity in that one traditional, fully enclosed shopping center was completely demolished and replaced with another fully enclosed facility.
Parkway Place was also one of the last retail facilities to be built in the United States as a fully traditional shopping mall. By that, I mean that it had no junior or big box anchors, only full line department stores, and no outdoor elements of any kind. All stores (until Carrabba's was added in the mid 2000's) were accessible from the interior concourse. Parkway Place was also built at the right moment. Had it been conceived just a year later than it was, I'm sure it would have been built as another lazy outdoor "lifestyle" center. With its perfect timing, the Huntsville market got one hell of a retail gem; and one of the last of its kind to be built.
Parkway Place is the result of a bullet well dodged. In the nineties, a huge new mall called Green Cove was proposed for extreme south Huntsville. Very extreme. The location was far from the metro's center of population. Had the 1.5 million square foot behemoth been built, Parkway City Mall would have surely died a quick and unceremonious death only to be replaced with a Wal-Mart Supercenter or some other abomination.
Then came the collapse of the economy in the aughts. I really can’t see how Green Cove, with its isolated location abutting the Redstone Arsenal and with the Tennessee River just to its south would have survived. Residential development at the time wasn’t nearly as swift as it is today and there was minimal room for growth in the vicinity. I think it's not crazy to say that, by now, we would have lost both Parkway City and Green Cove. Huntsville's retail market would have been glutted with vacancies.
Parkway Place was built as a replacement for the venerable old Parkway City Mall, a shopping center that had occupied the site since 1957, opening as the first large shopping destination in the budding city, Parkway Center. Even though the former incarnation had been experiencing years of decline, its anchors McRae's, Parisian and Dillard's were still strong performers and the location was unbeatable.
Parkway Place was designed to be a middle market to upscale center, bringing many retailers previously not located in Huntsville, with a few opening their first locations in the state. Because of the site's limited acreage, it would be built with two levels and a parking deck on the Memorial Parkway side. Its compact footprint gave it the appearance of urban centers usually found in larger cities, like The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville or Pearlridge Center (minus the monorail) in Hawai'i.