11 January 2022

Brookwood Village, Homewood, AL

 A dead mall

I always liked Brookwood Village.  It was never convenient enough for me to visit on a regular basis, but I like the fact that there was this unexpected little place tucked away in Homewood somewhere in suburbia between the Riverchase Galleria and Century Plaza.  It was two levels, but really only in the center.  Each wing was only a top level with covered parking beneath.  I always admired weirdly designed gems like this.

Shots of Brookwood Village around the time of its opening. (Source)

Brookwood Village first opened its doors in 1973 in a largely residential area of Birmingham suburb Homewood.  Rich's was the anchor to the east and Pizitz was the anchor to the west of the straight-line concourse.  In the middle was a two story atrium which contained a fountain with tree like sprayers.  This was, of course, removed during the mall's first remodel in the late eighties.

Brookwood Village pamphlet, ca. 2011.  View the full PDF version here.

Colonial Properties took over the shopping center in 1997 and renamed it Colonial Brookwood Village.  They embarked on an extensive renovation, increasing the center to over 750,000 square feet.  In 2001, the work was complete and a new line of outdoor facing shops framing the central area of the mall opened.  

Brookwood Village just after the 2001 renovation.

Over the decades of the mall's life, Pizitz first became McRae's then Parisian before finally becoming a Belk, ultimately closing in 2018.  The Rich's was first rebranded as Rich's-Macy's then only Macy's.  This location closed in 2022.  Between the two closings, the interior of the rest of the mall accelerated in number of vacancies.

Brookwood Village Mallmanac, ca. 2016.  View the full PDF version here.

Brookwood Village, as much as I loved it, has unfortunately been deemed redundant.  I love that it outlasted competitors Century Plaza and Eastwood Mall, and even lived long enough to witness the decline of Riverchase.  The world needs more cool little places like this, and when it finally meets the wrecking ball it will be a sad day.

Brookwood Village on Wikipedia

Copley Place, Boston, MA

 An extant asset

The Boston Marriott Copley Place (Center) viewed during a walk past Titus Sparrow Park.

My first trip to Boston was for my birthday in February of 2017.  Being quite aware of how northeastern winters can be, I packed plenty of sweaters and long-johns.  But, to everyone's delight, Boston just happened to be going through record warm temperatures. One day the temperature even got all the way up to 80.  It was the warmest February day in the city's history and I found myself having to acquire more summertime appropriate attire on the fly.  Luckily, from my hotel in Boston Common, I was just a short walk away from The Prudential Center, Cambridgeside Galleria and Copley Place.

Copley Place Lease Plan, ca. 2011.  View the full PDF here.

Copley Place is located in the Back Bay area catty-cornered from and connected to The Prudential Center via a long skywalk.  Anchored by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, it is considered the premiere fashion center of downtown.  My visit was in the midst of an extensive renovation, and I was lucky to see some of the dark tile and brass fixtures of the décor from a bygone era before it was stripped away.

The dark colors of the main entrance off of Stuart just before the mall's renovation.

Copley Place was built in 1983 as part of one of Boston's largest (at the time) urban mixed-use projects.  Besides Saks and Neiman's, it opened with additional anchor Barney's New York.  Two hotels, a Marriott and a Westin, are located on premises as well as numerous offices.  All of this is served by the Back Bay station on the orange line. 

Copley Place's concourses during the 2017 renovation.

Copley Place remains the home of many of Boston's highest end shops and continues to do brisk business.  Let's hope this keeps up and the facility bucks the trend of so many other downtown shopping malls.

Copley Place Mallmanac, ca. 2017.  View the full PDF here.
-UPDATE- Copley Place lease plan, ca. 2021.  View the full PDF here.

Copley Place's Official Website

Gwinnett Place Mall, Duluth, GA

 A dead mall

1- Gwinnett Place just after opening with its three original anchors. (Source)  2- Aerial view of Gwinnet Place just after the Mervyn's store and wing were added. (Source)

I only ever made it out to Gwinnett Place one time, but it was one hell of a one time.  It was early on New Years’ Eve, 1995.  The next year, I would be turning 21.  I was a sophomore in college and there were endless possibilities ahead of me.

Gwinnett Place Mallmanac, ca. 1995. View the full PDF version here.

My buddy and I had just made the trek to the Atlanta suburbs from his place at Auburn University.  He and I were there to meet his girlfriend who lived in Duluth and would be celebrating with us downtown later that evening to ring in the new year.  Besides the prospect of a great time partying, I was stoked as hell to find out that we’d be going to the huge shopping mall to the northeast of Atlanta to meet her.

1- The Parisian exterior.  2- The interior hadn't changed much since my last visit in 1995.  (Source for both)

The weather was a bit chilly, overcast and rainy that morning as we pulled into the still empty parking lot.  It was just a few minutes before the mall would be opening, so we pulled into one of the many vacant parking spots just outside of the Parisian.  We waited in the vestibule until 12:30 when they finally unlocked the doors for us.

In and outside Gwinnett Place. (Source)

The Parisian itself was glamorous in a nineties sort of way, as were most of their best stores.  Parisian was the Nordstrom of the deep south, if you will, although they were never really able to effectively penetrate the Atlanta market.  I still miss the hell out of their teal nameplate with the diamonds elegantly separating each letter.  But I really couldn’t wait until I made my way into the mall itself so I that could grab my own treasure- a mallmanac.

1- The southeast entrance and Mega Mart.  2- The empty anchor once holding Davidson's, Macy's then Mega Mart.  (Source for both)

It wasn't long before the two of them ran off for some time alone and I used that opportunity to nerd the hell out at a new mall.  The corridors were wide and accented in the basic pastels of the day.  Bright and airy, it was your archetypical 1990s mall, and I was absolutely loving it.

Gwinnett Mall lower level concourse from the upper level mezzanine. (Source)

Gwinnett Place opened in early 1994 in the fast growing northeastern suburb of Duluth.  The main corridor ran from the west-northwest to the east-southeast with Rich's on the west end, Sears on the east and Davidson's in the middle.  In 1986, the short concourse to the southeast opened along with new anchor Mervyn's and Macy's took over the Davidson's spot. In 1993, the mall grew to its present footprint when Parisian opened at the end of the second spur built off of the northwest of the main concourse.  

Gwinnett Place lease plan, ca. 2011. View the full PDF version here.

We left the mall not long after and I haven’t been back since.  At midnight, the three of us stood watching the Great Peach drop from Underground Atlanta.  It was a fantastic night; definitely one of the best New Years’ Eves I’ve ever had, if not THE best.  Unfortunately for Gwinnett Place, even it’s behemoth size couldn’t save it from the fact that Atlanta was terribly over-malled.

Gwinnett Place lease plan, ca. 2015. View the full PDF version here.

New competition from the Mall of Georgia and Sugarloaf Mills pulled customers away from the super-regional.  Belk took over the Parisian in 2008 not long after Macy's moved their location to what was then the former Rich's.  Today, Macy's remains but the only other open anchor is in its former location, now housing a Mega Mart.  The interior stores are mainly vacant except for a few locally owned establishments.  

Gwinnett Place Mall in better days. (Source)

What was the main shopping attraction for metro Atlanta during the nineties is now, for all intents and purposes, dead.  Though this made it the perfect setting for the "Starcourt Mall" in the third season of Netflix's Stranger Things, there isn't much hope for it in its present incarnation.  Gwinnett County purchased the property in 2020, but no plans have been announced yet for the site.

Gwinnet Place on Wikipedia