13 October 2013

Hickory Hollow Mall, Antioch, TN

A dead mall

Nashville has always been a city that I loved. Many a night my friends and I would take the northward drive for Nashville over the larger alternative of Atlanta. I really loved downtown and the west end near Vanderbilt. But, despite being in close proximity to Nashville International Airport, a must see on almost every trip, I think we only stopped by Hickory Hollow Mall once or twice. The impression the bi-level structure always gave was one of conformity; nothing groundbreaking or memorable was encased underneath its high ceilings and within its wide concourses. Just names and faces that could be seen at any number of the nation's mid market shopping mall.

Hickory Hollow Mall Mallmanac, ca. 1998. View the full PDF version here.

Hickory Hollow Mall opened in 1978 among Nashville's growing southeastern neighborhoods. A fully two-tiered facility, it opened with Sears, Castner-Knott and Cain Sloan as anchors. In 1982, a JCPenney and rechristened its accompanying wing were added. Then, in 1991, after Dillard's had taken over the Cain Sloan space, they expanded by adding a new structure to the flanking side of their old box, while their previous square footage was converted into mall shops. The mall kept this footprint up to the bitter end.

Hickory Hollow Mall in the late nineties.

Even with Castner-Knott's being taken over first by Proffitt's then Macy's, the mall trudged along through the eighties and the nineties as king of its trade area. But changes were coming, and they were rather abrupt. The first anchor to go was JCPenney in 2006, followed by Dillard's in 2008. Smaller stores started exiting in droves, being supplanted by either perpetually drawn gates or local, off brand stores. The final stake through Hickory Hollow's heart was Sears announcement of their impending closure in 2011, while Macy's made their proposed exit public just a few weeks later.

The mall in the late 2000s. Notice that JCPenney and Dillard's have already departed.

Despite being left with only a junior anchor (Electronics Express) and a few dozen shops, the mall is in the midst of a redevelopment. The Dillard's has been turned into a branch of the Nashville State Community College while the Nashville-Davidson government has converted the old JCPenney into office space. The former inline square footage was purchased by a local entrepreneur and was recently rechristened as the Global Mall at the Crossings. The upper level is intended for local stores with an ethnic flair while the bottom level is reserved for more traditional tenants. Though they claim to have around 60 spaces leased with Hispanic, African and Middle Eastern influences, the old Hickory Hollow still seems unable to attract those national names essential to most major shopping malls' long term success.

Hickory Hollow Mall aerial. (Source)

Anyone who has followed the retail industry as close as we do knows that this type of venture is risky at best, financial suicide at worst. Very few older shopping malls have successfully pulled off this type of transition. But the mall's new owners point to the success of nearby 100 Oaks Mall, which has seen multiple conversions and now serves as a satellite facility for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The success of 100 Oaks, however, is rarely repeated when looking at the nation as a whole, so the possibility of its happening two times within the same city is rather unlikely. But we'll have to wait and see. And, with my being the mall enthusiast that I am, I know that I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Global Mall at the Crossing's official website

1 comment:

  1. The Castner-Knott was briefly Hecht's after Proffitt's, from about 2001 to 2006. Hecht's was part of Robinson-May, which merged with Federated Department Stores in 2006, to which all of their nameplates were flipped to Macy's.