06 March 2022

Century Plaza, Birmingham, AL

 A dead mall

1 & 2- Century Plaza's exterior along Crestwood Boulevard.
2 & 3- Century Plaza Lease Plan, ca. 2002.  View the full PDF version here.

The Birmingham retail market has been historically dominated by two major shopping facilities- the Riverchase Galleria and The Summit.  But before the retail juggernauts opened in the southern suburbs and consolidated the region's retail presence, Birmingham's shopping options were primarily anchored by Western Hills Mall in the west, Brookwood Village in the south and central parts, and Eastwood and Century Plaza malls to the east. 

Century Plaza's center court area after closing. (Source)

In the mid-nineties I lived for a few months in nearby Irondale while taking classes at the University of Montevallo.  Both Eastwood and Century were so close that I almost always frequented them both over Riverchase.  I always preferred Century Plaza over its older neighbor as it had more of a selection, it boasted that cool nineties pastel makeover and was missing that dingy, empty, soon-to-be-a-super-Walmart smell. 

In and around the abandoned Century Plaza after closing. (Source)

Century Plaza opened its doors in the same year that I came to be, 1975.  Sears, the first store to open, was joined by other original anchors JCPenney, Loveman's of Alabama and Atlanta based Rich's.  At 700,000 square feet and a full two tiers throughout, it was the largest indoor retail facility in the metro area.  Between it and Eastwood, the Crestwood Boulevard area was the most popular retail draw in the area through the seventies and early-eighties.

Around the Century Plaza exterior after closing (Source)

Century Plaza did well for more than a decade.  It even soldiered on through the closing and redevelopment of its neighbor across the street.  The Loveman's changed nameplates to Jackson, MS based McRae's while Rich's, after a takeover by Cincinnati based Federated Stores, was re-christened Rich's-Macy's.  The location, however, closed before all stores in the chain dropped the Rich's to simply become Macy's.  Being the first of the anchors to close, it would soon be joined by the others.

Shots of Century Plaza after closing (Source)

JCPenney closed in 2006, while McRae's became Belk the same year before closing soon after.  Sears was then the only anchor remaining as the rest of the mall was vacating at a high rate.  When the interior of the mall closed in 2009, only 40 of the original 100 stores remained.  Later that same year, the final store at the mall, Sears, closed its doors.  The venerable retail name opened before the mall and had outlasted it.

Inside Century Plaza after closing (Source)

The mall sat vacant for over a decade and many plans for the land, located in an area of economic decline, were proposed.  None came to fruition and the large, red monolith sat in full display of decay off of a major thoroughfare.  The demolition man finally came in 2021 and Century Plaza was unceremoniously razed to make way for an Amazon distribution center.

Century Plaza on Wikipedia

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