Reisterstown Road Plaza opened in 1962 as an open-air shopping center. It was anchored by Stewarts (a now defunt department store) Hechts and Food Fair. It was the largest regional shopping center in Maryland at one time (boasting 700,000 square feet.) The total mall cost came to be $20,000,000. In 1975, the mall was enclosed. A three screen movie theatre was added in the late 70′s. In the early 80′s, Woolworth moved in. In 1983, Stewarts closed down all of their stores. In 1984, Caldor took over the Stewarts space. But most of the original Stewarts place was turned into offices, since Caldor didn’t need the extra space. The offices were rented out to juvenile justice, social security, the MD lottery and mall management. I’m not sure when Food Fair and Hechts pulled out, but it all happened very quick. Food King eventually replaced Food Fair. Reisterstown was called, “The mall that would never die,” because they were quick to replace vacancies. So eventually, they added a Burlington Coat Factory and a Hechinger. Soon, the movie theatre started to fail, and only showed second run movies. Soon, the space behind the movies were turned into a very successful Bingo Hall.
By the 90′s, failure comes. The high population jewish area, was soon taken over by section eight and low income families, and the mass transportation came. The parking lot always seemed to be full, but that was maybe because the front parking lot was not that big. By 1997, Caldor closes down all of their stores, and the anchor goes empty. Also in the same year, the Woolworth building catches on fire, and is replaced a few years later by “The Mart,” which also closes down a few years down the line. By 1998, the movies closed down due to very poor attendance. And I remember the Caldor mall entrance hall having a terrible smell. It smelled like pissy orange bathroom cleaner (just plain ol’ nasty!) Their bathrooms were also filthy, and I never saw a decent soul ever enter. Soon, Reisterstown starts to have a major vacancy rate, and the owners would not stand for it! (I was hoping at that time, that they would make the mall brighter!)
The year 1999 would bring the closure of Hechinger. The building was replaced by some furniture warehouse, and some weird strip plaza thing (which is only like 10% full.) I guess no one wants to movie into this dead zone.
In 2000, a beacon of light comes to the old Caldor building. A new store named National Wholesale Liquidators moves in, and brings back some business. But a year later, their entrance to the mall was sealed. I had no idea why, but I should’ve know that it was a sign of things to come. Also in the same year, Food King closed (which was NOT good news for the residents living in the area.) In 2001, the Food King was torn down, and a Home Depot was constructed on the parking lot. The mall owners decided to turn the old Food King space into a new entrance, and a new, comfortable food court (the first “food court” sucked, if I may add..) They also added a bigger and improved Liquor store and security desk (all opened in 2003.) I don’t see why they would add a security desk. Who would want to steal from THIS mall?
By 2003, the whole Caldor wing was torn down (30+ stores.) Also, and Applebee’s was constructed on the premises. Now the mall is renovating. The old Caldor wing will be transformed into Giants and Marshalls. It is now 2004, and the Marshalls building is 100% complete, and all of the merchandise is ready. The store will be opening on April 3, 2004. The Giants is taking a much longer time. No telling when that will open!
To make a loooooong story short, Reisterstown Road Plaza is a mall that just won’t accept it’s death. I recently visited the mall, it is renovated (and REALLY colorful) but no one seems to care. There was little foot traffic, and the store workers just sit around waiting for customers. But I do hope that things turn out good for the plaza, because I would really hate to see history go to waste.
If you’re going to shop in Baltimore [City] MD, I suggest you visit the plaza for a true dead experience. But if you want to do some serious shopping, go to Mondawmin Mall or The Gallery!