17 February 2023

Coliseum Mall, Hampton, VA

 A dead mall

This mall was always an enigma to the younger me.  Living in South Hampton Roads, malls across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on the Peninsula were rarely, if ever, visited.  But Coliseum Mall, visible right off of Interstate 64, was the most well-known.  Every trip we took that brought us to that part of the region I knew was going to afford me another opportunity to see this expansive yet low slung structure zoom past my window.  You could clearly see the JCPenney (a “starship,” no less) and Thalhimer’s, with its turret, but the rest was shrouded in mystery.  One that I knew I would probably never be able to visit as a kid in the eighties.

Coliseum Mall Grand Opening article from The Daily Press, 1973. View the full PDF version here.

I was finally able to stop by in 1999 as a young adult working for the airlines.  I rented a car and zipped from Norfolk International looking forward to finally seeing Coliseum Mall firsthand.  I knew I was close when I saw the peaked roofline of the Hampton Coliseum, after which the mall was named.  But it was the next exit where I was finally able to leave the interstate and actually stop for a look.  And it was everything I loved about early malls.

1- Hecht's, originally Thalhimer's with its "turret."  2- The "Starship" JCPenney.

The mallway was dark on the inside, but fairly well attended for a weekday afternoon.  It was starting to show its age, but at the time Coliseum Mall was still one of the big retail players on the Peninsula, having always been the more successful between it and its neighbor, Newmarket North Mall, located just a few miles down Mercury Boulevard.  I snapped a couple of pictures, though none of the interior, looked in vain for a mallmanac, but never found one, though I finally left satisfied that the place was no longer a mystery.

1- Coliseum Mall just after the 1976 expansion.  2- Coliseum Mall at the time of my visit in 1999.

Coliseum Mall would only live on for another few years as the newer competitor to the north in Newport News, Patrick Henry Mall, became the prime retail destination between Hampton and Newport News.  At its closing, only JCPenney and Macy’s (in the old Thalhimer’s building) were left.  They were both integrated into the commercial successor of the mall, the Peninsula Town Center.  Joining them as a third anchor would be Target, but the rest of the facility was unceremoniously laid to waste.

Coliseum Mall mallmanac ca 1988.  See the full PDF version here.

Coliseum Mall opened in 1973 with three anchors, EJ Korvette, JCPenney and Nachman’s.  It was expanded in 1976 to add a concourse running perpendicular to the original with the meeting place near Nachman’s.  In addition to the new wing, department stores Smith & Welton and Thalhimer’s (based in Norfolk and Richmond, respectively) opened.  Eventually, Korvette’ s became Montgomery Ward.  When Coliseum Mall was closed, the space was demolished and the Target was built on its lot during the redevelopment.  The Nachman’s anchor spot first changed nameplates to Hess’s then Proffitt’s and finally Dillard’s at its closing.  Thalhimer’s was converted to a Hecht’s then a Macy’s before being integrated into the new development.  The distinctive home of JCPenney was bulldozed, though the store remained with a smaller footprint.

The backside of Coliseum Mall, nearly the same view I had in my younger days zooming past it on I64.

Macy’s continued to operate within what were originally Thalhimer’s walls until closing completely in 2016.  The aged structure was then knocked down, eliminating the only remaining part of the old Coliseum Mall.  Like most malls from its era, today it only exists in pages such as this.  But I am glad that I finally got to know it first-hand.

Peninsula Town Center mallmanac ca 2011.  See the full PDF version here.

UPDATED- Newmarket North Mall, Hampton, VA

New mallmanacs, photos and words have been added to the post for Newmarket North Mall in Hampton, Virginia.


12 February 2023

Everett Mall, Everett, WA

 A dead mall

It’s easy to miss Everett Mall when traveling on I5 through Snohomish County.  Overlooking the interstate on a steep embankment and concealed behind towering evergreens, it also has to compete with the incredible view of the Cascades to the east.  On my first visit to the Puget Sound area, it was simply the fourth of four malls that I had passed on the drive from SeaTac to Everett.  But it eventually became my most visited mall during my earliest days in the area.

Everett Mall mallmanac ca 2000.  See the full PDF version here.

If one looked closely enough, they could just catch a peek of the mustard and cream striped exterior of The Bon Marché, then just labeled as The Bon, peeking from behind the pine needles.  But the first time I actually got to see the place full-on, it was absolutely...  Whelming.  The mall seemed healthy enough with adequate foot traffic and a well-enough selection of retail names.  But really, it was just meh.  With none of the flash of its nearby competitor, Alderwood, it never became the default option for shoppers in the area.

The Everett mall in 2004.

A family member owned a business in that building, so that’s what mainly kept me coming back.  But it really wasn’t a remarkable building by any means.  There was The Bon at one end with a rather well-stocked Sears at the other.  Their wings came together at an angle with the main entrance right where they met.  Just inside the main entrance was the Eat Street food court, which contained big names for the time like A&W, Ivar’s Seafood, McDonald’s, and Orange Julius.  The food court seemed to be the best thing about the mall.

Everett Mall mallmanac ca 2004.  See the full PDF version here.

I couldn’t even tell you from memory what the interior was like, so it must have been pretty forgettable.  It seemed to follow the basic mall décor template of the nineties, so it’s hard to look back and know if anything specific belonged to Everett Mall or someplace else. Big mall names of the day like B Dalton, KB Toys, Deb Shop, and Radio Shack also had outlets.  There was a southern wing joining the two frontal concourses that housed a Rite-Aid at its mid-point and was capped by a Mervyn’s.

2013-  1- Just off the main entrance.  2- Macy's where The Bon used to be.  3- Sears and the theaters.  4- Burlington where the southern wing used to be.  5- The Sears Wing.  6- The Macy's wing.  

When I moved to the area in 2012, Everett Mall has gone through quite a few changes.  The interior had been refurbished with more wood and earthy tones alongside stone elements giving one the impression of a cozy lodge.  Junior anchors Ulta, Party City, and Old Navy had taken up shop while Mervyn’s had closed an was replaced by an LA Fitness.  The Rite-Aid had also closed and a Regal Cinemas multi-plex had been built in its place.

1- Everett Mall mallmanac ca 2012.  See the full PDF version here.
2- Everett Mall mallmanac ca 2013.  See the full PDF version here.

Despite still not being the first choice for shoppers in the area, especially younger patrons, Everett Mall continued to soldier along.  There were multiple vacancies in the southern corridor that had once been home to Mervyn’s, but the wings belonging to Sears and The Bon (which by that time had re-branded to Macy’s) were still doing brisk business.  However, changes were coming, and the signs were starting to show that perhaps Everett Mall had long ago reached its peak.

2023-  1- The main entrance.  2- Some of the shops with exterior entrances toward the front.  3- BWW and one of the side entrances.  4- The old Macy's anchor, now mostly taken up by Floor & Décor, which does not have a mall entrance.  5- Junior anchors Ulta and Party City.  6- Looking toward the west at the old Sears store.

An almost complete closure was announced for the newest wing to the south and all of the small shops were rushed out.  In its place would be built a Burlington Coat Factory, which would also be occupying a portion of the old Mervyn’s space not taken over by LA Fitness.  But that failed to stop the mall's downward trajectory and just a few years later the two traditional anchors announced their departures.  Macy’s closed in 2017 while Sears, the first and oldest merchant at Everett Mall, was shuttered in 2020.  Other stores withdrew soon after, and the mall passed onto the realm of the dead.

2023-  1- The rear of the mall and the sign on I5.  2- A rear entrance next to the old Macy's anchor spot.  3- Burlington and LA Fitness.  4- The entrance to the old Sears wing and the multiplex.  5 & 6- Shots of the old Sears, the original structure on the property.

Everett Mall’s existence has been marked by a series of setbacks and near catastrophes.  The two original anchor spots began construction before the rest of the mall with Sears opening in 1969 followed by California based discount department store White Front in 1971.  The mall portion was set to begin construction in 1972 but the “Boeing Bust” had delayed the project.  More misfortune hit the planned center when White Front closed in 1974.  When the ribbon was cut for Everett Mall later in the same year, it debuted with one darkened anchor and an otherwise low rate of occupancy.

2023- 1- Just inside the main entrance.  2- Empty stalls in the food court.  3- The main corridor leading from the food court to center court is the most active part of the mall.  4- Burlington's mall entrance just off center court.  5- Center court.  6- Down the old Macy's concourse.  A Saturday morning card collectors' bazaar was bringing much needed traffic to the mall, but most of the permanent store entrances lay darkened.

Everett Mall’s prospects looked much more positive when The Bon Marché opened its doors in the old White Front spot.  The smaller stores saw overall increased traffic and and more shops subsequently signed leases as the mall approached its heyday.  Banking on the continued success of the development, the southern wing was added in 1979.  Seattle based upscale department store Frederick & Nelson opened at the end of the new wing, joined by junior anchor Payless Drugs.

2023- 1- Looking toward the former Macy's entrance.  2- Looking from the Macy's wing toward center court.  3- From the center court looking toward the old Sears.  4- The shuttered Sears entrance.  5- Empty store fronts line the Sears wing.  6- Party City and the increasingly sparse Everett Mall directory.

Everett Mall enjoyed a period of relative stability until 1991 when the Fredrick & Nelson bankruptcy led to the closure of the store.  But it was soon replaced by California based Mervyn’s which started operations in 1992.  The owners planned a major expansion of over a quarter of a million square feet in 1998, hoping to make a dent in nearby Alderwood’s market dominance.  But the owners soon faced financial difficulties of their own and the plans were shelved.  It was under this layout that I first became familiar with the mall.

Everett Mall future layout ca 2022.  See the full PDF version here.

In late 2022, the mall’s owners, Brixton Group, announced that they were in the design phase of a massive redevelopment of Everett Mall.  The Sears store is to be demolished and replaced with new tenant facilities, while the entire central, enclosed portion is also to be leveled.  A street is to be built through the mall’s former center court and all new stores are to have exterior only entrances.  The plans and renditions look attractive enough, but all it equates to me is the same thing I’ve seen in hundreds of other mall redevelopments.  And that’s always been Everett Mall’s problem; there’s never been anything about it that set it apart.  But who knows, maybe it’ll work this time.

Everett Mall's official website