Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Owings Mills Mall - Auf Wiedersehen!

Owings Mills Mall co-owners General Growth Properties and Kimco Realty announced last week that the best thing to do with the mall is to tear it down. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will disagree with that.

As I stated yesterday, Owings Mills has a lot of changes that they're promising. The problem is, these promises are so easy to break. Kimco and GGP said they plan to start demolition of the mall in 2013 - an entire year from now. So unfortunately, it looks like the best thing we can expect out of that mall is the annual Owings Mills Carnival which camps out in the parking lot. And if next year's carnival is as much of a bloody good time as it was this year, it will be awesome....for police and media types.

The mall has been declining for years. It opened in 1986 (I think). Only 25 years later they are tearing it down to try and make it more like the mall in Hunt Valley. When the mall opened it was featured as an upper-class mall. There was a Saks 5th Avenue and other high-end retailers. I saw a great comment on Facebook that said, "When the mall opened they said there would never be a Radio Shack in this mall. They opened a Radio Shack a few years later. I blame the downfall of the mall on Radio Shack." Other major big box department stores have come and gone - Lord & Taylor, Boscov's, Sears, while a few remain -Macy's, J.C. Penney, and International Furniture Liquidators.

What changes contributed to the downfall of the mall? When the mall opened, it pretty much was out in the middle of nowhere. The Owings Mills subway stop was right next to it. Robbers quickly took advantage of the close proximity of public transportation to grab and go. The subway didn't get the nickname of "The Mugger Mover" for nothing!

Additionally, as the area of Owings Mills grew, the demographics changed dramatically. Thousands of low-income apartments, town houses, and condominiums were built that brought in people that couldn't afford the high-priced stores in the mall. They wanted dollar stores and Wal-Mart's. And with those lower-income residents naturally brings in more crime. The previous more affluent residents of Owings Mills, of which many had fled to Owings Mills a generation before from the City, now fled to the ex-burbs of Westminster, Eldersburg, and Hanover, Pennsyltucky.

So will this renovation of Owings Mills Mall actually occur? If so, will it actually begin in 2013? Or is it more likely that it will happen in 2023? I could totally see the mall turning into a giant indoor regional flee market.

And as my children said when they built these houses in the parking lot of Owings Mills Mall, "Why would anyone want to live in the parking lot of a mall?" Sounds like a logical question to me!

I didn't want to steal these pictures, so here are some interesting links of the mall from the 1980's. If you live in the area or work there, you'll notice a lot of the places that aren't there yet - like OM Blvd not going all the way through to Lyon's Mill, or all of the development around Food Lion on Lakeside Blvd, the absence of all the businesses on Red Run Boulevard. Fascinating stuff!







Here is a montage of photos of the mall that you can look back and enjoy in another 25 years. I expect to see comments in the year 2025, "Hey, I remember Macy's! I used to rob that place all the time!" Is this a dead mall or what???

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