Sunday, July 2, 2006
Columbus Square Mall: Columbus, GA
The photo above shows what's left of Columbus Square mall...a vacant Sears which formed the western anchor of the mall. To the left is the demolished footprint of it. In all, fans of Dixie Square unfortunately missed a good chance with this one. Similar in age and basically decayed but opened to the public, Columbus Square Mall originally opened in 1965 as the first mall in the city and one of the first enclosed malls in Georgia. Originally I-shaped, the mall had Sears and JCPenney (Penney's) as the two anchors. In 1979, Kirven's - Columbus' major local department store - added onto the mall.
The problem with Columbus Square is that its anchor lineup was not exactly stellar and they faced competition too soon to be able to adapt. Even worse, the mall was too close to a crime-ridden area full of public housing and urban decay. In 1976, Peachtree Mall opened further up the Lindsay Creek By-Pass (S.R. 1, later I-185), effectively puncturing Columbus Square. Nevertheless, Peachtree Mall didn't start out so harmful. Originally, they co-existed peacefully as Peachtree Mall had just Montgomery Ward and Gayfer's as the anchors while Columbus Square had the Sears and Penney's. The death knell was when JCPenney split for the newer mall and Parisian opened at Peachtree. Slowly the mall started bleeding out tenants made worse when Kirven's went out of business in 1993. Only one of the three department stores was left, and the mall was then on life support. Columbus Square also got the reputation as the ghetto mall by that point, and in the mid-1980's it was already pretty much dying out.
What was peculiar was that Columbus Square sat in moldy squaller for nearly 20 years beyond the time the mall was basically dead. Sears owned its own building at the mall, and it wasn't interested in going anywhere for a very long time. The structure continued to deteriorate while remaining open until finally the city purchased it in 2003 and tore down the mall all except for the Sears. The leaving of the Sears caused an uproar, because the plan was to make it the library when ultimately they left it and built a new library next to it. Just to show how much time has passed, now Peachtree Mall is getting the same reputation that Columbus Square had with an open-air center leeching away its customer base and anchors bleeding away from the mall.
It is hoped in the near future that possibly the living descendents of Kirven's (notably Hal Kirven who corrected me on the Kirven's closure date) or others who took photos of this mall will contribute photos or information regarding this mall. I personally would love to add a piece on Kirven's to this blog as soon as anything comes available.
Here is an interior shot of the mall from this blogsite.