The Southtown Mall establishment had plenty of potential room to be a huge mall and a major attraction for local residents as well as people from across the country. Despite all that Southtown had going for it, it would end up failing in the end, and some people blamed the closure on poor management and poor advertisement near its final years.
Originally established in 1969, the Southtown Mall opened with three anchor locations including a J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, and a Wolf & Dessauer which would later be turned into an L.S. Ayres. Developed by Melvin Simon & Associates, this mall was over 800,000 square feet and had plenty of room for expansion.
Expansion of Southtown Mall
Thirteen years after the mall officially opened its doors to the public, the developers decided to greatly expand the mall by adding a brand new wing that would house both a Sears and a Service Merchandise. Despite criticism from David Simon, the chief-executive officer for Melvin Simon & Associates, that the malls expansion would be just too much, the expansions would continue.
The following year, Southtown Mall would undergo its first anchor change when Kohl’s replaced Montgomery Ward. Eight years later, now in 1991, it looked as though Elder-Beerman was going to replace L.S. Ayres in the Southtown Mall, however, due to bankruptcy of Elder-Beerman, L.S. Ayres was able to stay in the mall until 1997.
Downfall of Southtown Mall
In the same year that L.S. Ayres would finally have to close its doors for real, Service Merchandise and J.C. Penney would also end up closing their store locations at Southtown Mall. As if that weren’t enough, there were quite a few smaller names that would close and have a compounded impact on the entire mall, some of these included Casual Corner and McDonalds.
In ’92, David Simon attempted to sell the mall but was unable to find a buyer, and now the year after major and moderate retailers and shops had left the mall in a very poor state, he attempted to sell it again. The year after that in 1999, the mall was purchased by Heywood Whichard, but was unable to salvage any success that would have been possible with Southtown Mall.
The Heywood Era and Closure of Southtown Mall
It was clear from the beginning of Heywood’s time managing the Southtown Mall that things weren’t getting much better in the near future. Shortly after people started to realize that the mall was essentially dead and wasn’t going to make a comeback, more and more tenants began to pack up and move including Old Country Buffet and J.B. Robinson Jewelers.
Kohl’s also left the mall, and relocated to a nearby location, which was pretty much the dagger that killed Southtown Mall. Things were able to stay afloat for the next four years, but in 2003 the final tenants were evicted from the mall, and it would officially be closed. Currently there is a Menards and a Walmart located on the malls former site.