Milledgeville, however, is a city that has seen a significant amount of growth since the mall first first opened with a trade area of 100,000 people. The mall, however, is one of the very smallest at 231,000 square feet, according to the mall's fact sheet. It recently was very fully tenanted with a Belk, Goody's and a JCPenney along with Office Max. Goody's and Office Max in particular appear to either have been subdivided from a larger department store or were added in the 2007 renovation, though I am guessing this was probably a discount anchor such as Wal-Mart. If that former tenant was a larger department store, the possible tenant I could only assume. Since it opened in 1972, it was renovated twice since it was built: first in 1986 and again in 1998 . I wish that I had seen the mall prior to the renovation, because the fountain was removed in the last one.
Lengthwise view of the mall from front the entrance to JCPenney. The center court area is in the foreground. The first photo is an artsy photo of center court with a focus on the skylight that cast the rest of the mall in a dusky glow.
JCPenney sign overhangs the back part of the mall approaching JCPenney. Waldenbooks was in this part.
The "JCPenney Court" complete with ramps and empty planters.
Next to JCPenney is this very dark and narrow entrance corridor. This apparently serves as the only actual entrance to JCPenney.
Looking back lengthwise from in front of JCPenney toward the front entrance.
In layout, the mall is a very basic plus-shape with a super basic center court that serves as nothing more than as a center of all the mall hallways. The mall has a rather strange mix of tenants overall. It has a Rite-Aid (former Eckerd) on the front of the mall with both an inside and outside entrance. It is located in front of the Belk mall entrance. A Mexican restaurant also fronts the mall with no mall access. Other tenants of the mall are the typical Hull Storey Gibson set such as Maurice's, Rue 21, formerly Waldenbooks and a few other mall staples. Waldenbooks in particular closed early this year. A Chinese restaurant is also in the mall, and overall the mall looked the healthiest of the three semi-rural malls.
Approaching center court with front entrance in the background.
The Belk wing is very tiny. This is about all of it. Rite-Aid (formerly Eckerd) is on the left and additional Belk space is on the right at the end of the hallway.
Rite-Aid and Belk.
Goody's former mall entrance. This would make a perfect Books-A-Million or Borders.
Inside Goody's, the celing looks rough but the floor looks fine.
Another element I find interesting in the mall is the ramped area that is in front of JCPenney. This area goes up with a couple planters (with no plants) and then levels out in front of the JCPenney entrance. In this area are two narrow rear mall entrances as well. I guess the ramped area was to provide distinction, which is nice since the mall would otherwise be uninteresting and uninviting. Nevertheless, it is nice to see a mall at all in a small city that is located quite far from all the major interstates. This may change in the future, however, since I-14 is planned to eventually come very close to the city along what is now an under-construction basic four-lane highway known inappropriately as the "Fall Line Freeway". Such a project would either boost the mall or kill it.
Looking back from former Goody's toward Belk.
Heading out of the mall.
Milledgeville Mall's sign looks to be original but renovated for the renaming in the 90's.
Goody's bankruptcy, however, left an obvious hole in the mall. It seems that Goody's positioning as a prominent anchor in all three malls left a mark that revealed how much small town malls are struggling with anchor losses due to mergers, bankruptcies and an overall decline in the standard of living in outlying areas. Unlike larger cities that can retrofit with lifestyle centers and big boxes, anchor losses at even the healthiest small town malls are often devastating. Thankfully, Belk and JCPenney have not abandoned the center, and Belk's commitment to small town markets has provided at least a modest department store to towns that otherwise would have none. Its previous local partnership as Belk Matthews once dominated this region, and it still remains today without Mr. Matthews as the merchant. The Goody's is also hardly dead weight since it is a good candidate for a large bookstore chain, which is desperately needed in a college town since Waldenbooks closed. Books-A-Million could easily fill the space vacated by Goody's, which would undeniably draw traffic to the mall. Obviously, a mall so small has trouble competing with better retail options in Macon and Augusta, but it seems that the mall could still offer more than it has right now.
Next to the main mall entrance, the mall looks more like a goofy strip mall. A Mexican restaurant with no mall access, the dead Goody's and Office Max, which has no mall access, is lined up.
JCPenney made no effort architecturally at all when this store was built. They didn't even attach an outside entrance. Shoppers actually enter the corridor in the door there, which goes into the mall right in front of the mall entrance.
Belk, featuring plain white arches. Note the distance between the Belk sign and the door, which previously included "Matthews".
Rite-Aid (formerly Eckerd) has its own outside entrance on the front of the mall. This was typical in older, second-tier malls.
When Hatcher Square became Milledgeville Mall, it got this stodgy new urbanist brick entrance, which looks gaudy and out of place in comparison to the mall.
Milledgeville Mall I am doubting will be going anywhere soon, but I think a better job could be done filling this mall. A nice bookstore, a small expansion and a more tasteful renovation I'm sure would help. A mall with 40-50 stores would obviously be more of a draw than the 20 odd inline stores it has now. What will happen there is unknown, but it is hoped that the local economy is strong enough to support this quirky little mall. Milledgeville itself is in a good position to become a much larger city in the future if the economy improves. It has several industries, a major state college, a popular lake and is centrally located. It is also a bit more scenic than other areas in that it is more mountainous due to its position on the "fall line". I do think that if the city starts growing again that the mall will also expand and improve. I don't, however, like the new name and wonder why they changed it. Because it is lesser known, I also was not able to provide much history of it, which I hope to uncover in time. While I do not think this mall is particularly outstanding in any way, I think it still has been shortchanged of its potential where it could look better, be a little bigger and offer more to the local population.