It’s been said that there’ just one place on the globe where you can visit a clown museum, work out, and shop, and that’s Grand Avenue. However, just because it’s a huge downtown area, and there’s a huge food court, and a clown museum, doesn’t mean that it will be successful. The Grand Avenue Mall wasn’t successful. It was built about four blocks to the west of the Milwaukee River. It was cut up into two areas, which was the New Arcade and the Plankinton Arcade, and they were attached by a sidewalk.
The mall opened in the early 1980s, and it had high hopes. It’s gone through some terrible ups and downs though. It was funded mostly by a life insurance company, and it opened up with expectations that it would start a revolution in the downtown area. The retail scene was dealing with a lot of trouble, and the malls that came up after World War II started to take away the shoppers from the local stores. There was supposed to be a little sparkle added to the downtown area with Grand Avenue, and it was supposed to lure the retail stores back. It was anchored by Marshall Fields and Boston Store, and there was a Gimbels and Woolsworths across the street from it. This was the main shopping site in all of Milwaukee though. However, five years after it opened up, there were some little bits of trouble though. The lunchtime hour was fairly busy, and the downtown office workers had to do their errands. The shopkeepers complained though, and they said that there weren’t enough customers on weekends and nights. The mall was seen as a core connection between the west and east sides of downtown, and some of the destination tourists and people who went to conventions, and Milwaukee’s new and old convention centers were positioned on the other end of the street from it.
There were some dark years in the middle portion of the 1990s, and it seemed like Grand Avenue had lost some of its charm. There was a $25 million dollar offer to buy it from the city to make sure that it was renovated, and there was a huge new convention center that was being constructed across the way.
There was a little bit of a mending process in the 200s, and there was an investment by the mayor of $12 million into the site.
A lot of malls go through ups and downs, and it can be tough to overcome some of those. There are sometimes legitimate reasons for the mall declining outside of the factors that the mall owners and operators would be responsible for. Some times, it’s the fault of the mall owners and managers. There are different situations each time. It’s hard to see a mall decline. Sometimes, the residents get pretty angry about it, and sometimes the residents have just stopped going to the mall, so they don’t really care. There are times when other malls take their place in popularity. In those cases, the malls aren’t that important to the residents when they have brand new malls to replace them.