Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bradley Square Mall: Cleveland, TN

A few cases exist where small cities have more than one mall. Always in these cases, the malls complemented each other with completely different anchors (usually 1-2) and a small amount of stores that total about 50 a piece. These malls also tend to have been built from about 1965-1975 and were pretty well worn by the early 1990's. Needless to say, by that time they were viewed as quite depressing with their often very dark color schemes and interiors in contrast with the light, bright designs popular in that time. In almost all cases, it only took one new mall coming to town to wipe those malls out for good, and in the case of Cleveland this was all true when Bradley Square Mall was built.

Bradley Square Mall opened in 1991 on the north side of Cleveland. Named for Bradley County, which it resides, the mall brought in four anchors with over 500,000 square foot of space compared to the smaller and less exciting Village and Cleveland Malls. Bradley Square took all but two of the anchors from those older malls, and the ones that remained closed shortly after. When the mall opened, Hess's came from Village Mall while JCPenney and Sears left Cleveland Mall without a reason to exist. When all was finished, the new mall featured Hess's, JCPenney, Sears and Kmart. A fifth anchor pad was also added to the mall, which I'm sure was presumed to be either Goody's, Rose's or Parks-Belk at that point in time. Rose's, of course, simply closed at Cleveland Mall as the company by that time was in trouble.

Bradley Square may be one level, but its design is rather unique. It is not a typical straight up and down mall.

Bradley Square has a very interesting layout, which made it intriguing compared to the older malls. It starts out as a normal hall, but splits off into a diamond patter similar to North DeKalb Mall. At the southern part of the diamond is a beautiful, but small fountain that sits in front of the Belk. Visible from the south court is the east entrance to JCPenney and the Sears entrance. The food court is located on the east part of the diamond. A mall entranced joined the north court, but is covered up awaiting a new theater. The west part of the diamond is a split from the main corridor, which heads to Kmart and includes the west entrance to JCPenney.

Entering the mall from the Penney's west mall entrance into the Kmart wing.

Looking back in front of Kmart along the Kmart wing.

Around the north court looking toward food court.

Detail of planter in Kmart wing.

Looking from fountain (south) court to Kmart wing.

While Cleveland Mall withered and died, Village held onto Parks-Belk oddly for a couple more years. It turned out that the Parks family planned to sell their stores, and did so in 1995 to Proffitt's, who had also acquired Hess's shortly after Bradley Square opened. With that, Parks-Belk closed and Village Mall turned into a ghost town while fast-growing and popular Proffitt's took the realm as one of the four at Bradley Square. Bradley Square also featured other elements the original malls never had such as a food court, a distinct layout and bright, detailed modern decor that the older malls could not offer. Bradley Square also offered air conditioning that open-air Village Mall didn't offer.

The fountain in center court is a fairly basic fountain, but it is still very beautiful.

For the next decade, Bradley Square was successful as the dominant mall. It was closer to the interstate and more competitive with Chattanooga...or so it seemed. The mall today has seen somewhat of a shuffle with the re-branding of Proffitt's as Belk. With that, it looks like Belk finally did make it to the mall without the help of the Parks family. Also, a movie theater is now under construction in the rear of the mall making five anchors.

Entryways inside and out on the mall are striking. The archway is a tad dated looking, but the overhead area is a very elegant touch.

All is not well at Bradley Square, though. Like its sister mall Mount Berry Square in Rome, this Crown America-constructed mall is facing similar problems. While the mall offers trendy stores and a complete anchor lineup, the mall never caught on as well as the developers originally thought. Numerous stores are dark throughout and the food court is not serving any food. This is curious as to why this is, since the mall seemed fairly busy for the off-hours I was there. It is not really known why the mall is having these problems either except that they are both too close and too far from Chattanooga...too close, which makes them have to compete with Chattanooga, but also too far in that they are not drawing the traffic of a more urban market. Perhaps also the incomes are too low in the area or unemployment too high in the area.

The food court, located next to Sears, is the most worrisome sight in the mall. Nobody's eating and no business is there to cook it either.

Nevertheless, it is really too soon to tell if the mall is actually dying or if it just that the market is just not enough to support a full line of stores in the mall. While the mall was recently listed in a report as "in danger of failure", the fact is that its sister mall in Rome never filled up fully as it was. Just because a mall has high vacancies doesn't always mean it's dying if the market around it cannot support many of its stores. However, such reports tend to be worrisome, especially with the local economy in these smaller southern towns already shaky and troubled more by the national economic crisis.

Areas like this are where the wounds show. This corridor extends from the Kmart wing to the center court. Note Belk on the right.

In all, though, Bradley Square is a very attractive smaller mall. While it is a bit dated, the nice touches it has are very nice such as the elaborate and tasteful entrances, a fountain with a pool and a large number of planters throughout to keep the mall from feeling sterile like most new malls do these days. Nevertheless, I tend not to be totally cheerful about any mall that has caused the demise of other malls. While it is a nice center, I hardly think it has the charm of Village Mall and the death of two malls for one is not easy to overlook. Nevertheless, I hope that Bradley Square can figure out what's causing the vacancies and that what is successful in the mall stays successful. Hopefully the movie theater will make a big difference and bring the dead food court back to life as well. Overall, I found Bradley County's third mall to be an enjoyable experience and a fairly attractive mall that still serves the town well.

JCPenney east entrance followed by JCPenney east entrance view from the fountain court.

Belk/Proffitt's entrance from the fountain court.

JCPenney east mall entrance from fountain court.

Sears mall entrance with vacant food court on the left.

Approaching the Kmart mall entrance.

Side view of Kmart entrance and southwest entrance corridor. Entrances come in on both sides in front of the Kmart mall entrance.

Detail of the northwest entrance, which is less elaborate than the one used in the fountain court area. This entrance mirrors the one in the last photo.

Outside view of the less elaborate southwest entrance and more elaborate southeast entrance (fountain court entrance). I can't complain about the design of these...they are quite attractive.

Outside views of Sears, Penney's, Kmart and Belk. Below is a pic of the Belk store as Proffitt's.

The Proffitt's sign just looks better, sorry. This was originally Hess's sign had a rainbow-spectrum design on the logo instead of just green. I would have loved to have seen that!

Mall sign from US 11. What did those holes above the name use to be for?

Plywood and scars of the former entrance mark the work commencing on the new movie theater.


  1. I don't think I've been in this mall since the 1990s. It was then doing well for a smaller-town mall, and I hate to hear that it has a lot of vacancies. I drove by it a few weeks ago on the way back from Knoxville, but it was after hours. I remember the odd layout and wondered if the mall had been added onto at some point.

  2. The extra pad was supposed to be for Proffitt's, but they elected at the time to remain in a stand-alone store on the other side of Cleveland. That store closed when the Hess's was acquired.

    Hess's had a plain red sign on this location.

  3. The mall is defintly dying!Every time I go in there are at least 2 or 3 stores closing... Hate to say it but i think all the new shopping centers are doing them in.

  4. What kind of new shopping centers are you referring to? Are you talking about a lifestyle center, new strip mall or what? It didn't seem like there was that much new stuff in the area to me, and actually most of the development I saw was very old. I kind of figured the local economy was not in good shape...much like in Dalton. I personally think it should have never been built...its karma for killing off Cleveland and Village Malls. Those malls may not have been much, but they were more distinct looking and were in a more established area.

    Crown America's malls in general have done badly. They had no regard for the existing malls nor the fact that their malls would kill the existing ones. They also had no regard for the fact that they always built their malls far from the retail district in smaller cities just expecting all the stores to follow like it would in a major city. When that did not happen, the old malls redeveloped, the local economy weakened and now they are struggling. I personally wish that the anchors would relocate to Village Mall including an expansion.

  5. Me too. When they built Bradley Square it was in the middle of no where!!!

  6. I live in North carolina about 65 miles from Cleveland. Bradley Square has been my favorite mall for years. I love that it isn't a great big mall like Hamilton Place. I hope that the movie theater will be built and breathe life back into it. I would also love to see FYE come back to the mall too. The store that was in there was doing well but was closed in early 2009. It is a awesome little mall in a great town and I want to see it survive and thrive again. I read that the mall has been bought out by a new company recently so I am going to keep hope.

  7. im only 15, but i have spent alot of time in this city due to relatives and once living here. this mall, say around 99-2002 was waaaaay better than it is now. as of right now, stores cant last here, everything is bland, the selection of items in the stores is TERRIBLE, and its all around not very great. as a little kid, the food court was packed, there was a great arcade on the way to the food court..and as of now its dead. they stopped working on the theater, the fye is now a gymastics place (?) and the old kb toys after shutting down is a kb toys

  8. Yeah it is pitiful. I went in there the other day and nothing was going on. The theater is not going to be built because no one is shopping. The only thing left in the Garden Express(nasty). I remember the arcade, it was awesome. This Christmas we had a Toys R Us Express and it did so bad that Toys R Us closed it on Christmas Eve and it was supposed to stay open until January 20th. The REX Entertainment place is now a Bounce Around. The other day I when I was there the white walls were partially black because they havent cleaned them in who knows how long! Finally while I was there the "BIG" part of the Kmart sign fell of and landed in the parking lot. I go to the Target when I need something, its closer to where I live

  9. J.T. Im the one who commented on August 5,2009 I had a much longer comment then but my computer lost it. I am a current resident of Cleveland. Bradley Square Mall was doing very well up until 2005. Before then the Food Court was full and plenty of great stores were there, it was a very pleasant place. Of course since the mall's early days the Kmart store has been competing with the Walmart located across the street. As I was saying, the downturn in 2005. In mid 2004 I guess, a part of Mouse Creek was re-routed leaving a sizeable land area near Paul Huff Parkway. Shortly after developers announced plans for the Hickory Grove Shopping Center(a mid-sized stripmall). To begin with, this plaza was supposed to "Help" business in the Bradley Square Mall. As it began to develop, area citizens notice the cleaner, more modern facade, along with Cleveland's first major petstore, Petco, a Pier 1 Imports(which closed in 2008 and is now housing Alliance Physical Therapy), a TJ Maxx,Books A Million(which is now an ALDI Grocery, following Books A Millions move) and a Goody's(which moved from a shopping center near by that has a Food Lion, Burkes Outlet, and Hobby Lobby).Now Goody's is closed and a Goodwill Store is there. A few popular things such as a Panera Bread, Chili's, and Rack Room Shoes are also there. Easier access was also given and you can see Hickory Grove from the road. In 2006 a small shopping center and Home Depot were built shortly past. Another property was proposed by a city millionaire in 2007, however, this land has not yet been developed because he went bankrupt after mental issues. The largest one of all was finished just in time for "Shopping Season 2008", the Cleveland Towne Center. It is located at the Paul Huff Parkway Exit at I-75 giving easier access. When it opened in October 2008 it boasted having the city's first: Target, Kohls, Ross, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Circut City. The Books A Million moved from Hickory Grove. The Circut City of course closed when Circut City Corporation filed for bankruptcy. To tell you the truth, more shop at Cleveland Towne Center now, Target has initially taken the place of Sears Home and Outdoors and Kmart. Kohls has taken the place of Sears Women's, Belk, and JC Penney

  10. This mall is doing okay, there are plenty of shoppers and the parking is at least half full most of the time. However, there's an empty store around every corner and the food court only has Graden Express. Charley's Grilled Subs wants to move in. I think each shopping center should work together and get different stores so they'll all survive.

  11. yeah and those shopers are elderly people who walk there just for exercise and those are there cars and some of the employees and theres no stores cause cleveland cant keep enything

  12. I have an idea. Why don't they turn Bradley Square into an outlet mall like Discover Mills in Georgia. I'll bet people would love it plus it would be quicker and cheaper than going to Hamilton Place.

  13. Don't know how it will turn out, but Carmike Theatres just announced a twelve screen state of the art movie complex to be built where the previous theatre was supposed to have been built. Since it came from Carmike it may happen. The mall management has also said a major redevelopment is in store for the mall. I certainly needs it. The mall is very worn and it shows. It has never been upgraded or painted inside or out. Black streaks run down the white outside walls. Hopefully with the theatre coming the owners will spend some money and the store count will rise.
    Cleveland is a growing city and can support the mall. A new Olive Garden is being built across the street from the mall. Another strip mall is being developed nearby with a Buffalo Wild Wings opening Halloween. Batteries plus is nearly ready with several more stores planned. Rumor has it that Publix is coming soon. The Target Town Center has added Electronics Express where Circuit City was and this store is much nicer. The mayor said he expects Red Lobster to follow in the near future. Same Club owns property near the Golden Corral which will be developed in the future. Rumors abound daily about progress.
    Wacker Chemmie is building a 1.5 Billion dollar plant, Amazon is building a million square ft. Warehouse and Whirlpool is building a multi million dollar plant in the city. A brand new airport will be finished soon with the capacity for large corporate jets.
    I think this city of 50,000 is doing pretty darn well and the growth has been phenomenal the last few years. If you have not been to Cleveland in a while you would not recognize her.

  14. I can't help but get the sneaky suspicion that "major redevelopment" basically entails demolishing the entire enclosed mall and replacing it with another one of those stupid open-air "lifestyle centers". If Publix is involved in the project, it is rest assured going to be "de-malled". However, I think it is still a shame this mall killed the other two older malls in the city. Hess's/Crown America that built it did an enormous amount of damage to the successful malls in the smaller cities, and in turn none of their malls have ever done very well.

  15. It was announced today that our Sears store is closing, therefore yet another vacancy

  16. J.T
    Considering our mall has a Kmart in it, I wouldn't doubt a publix coming in. However the property they were looking at was closer to I-75

  17. Another that hints around something may be coming is that the mall manager said "I don't expect the old Sears to be empty for long"

    1. I heard it is going to be something for men.

    2. The former Sears location is being replaced by Dunham's Sports which opens September 6. Santa Fe Cattle Company recently opened in the new restaurant space near entrance 4. The whole exterior was recently repainted. All of the 4 entrances have been remodeled. New restaurants are opening in the moved food court in the next several months. Several other stores such as Claire's, American Eagle, and Belk have remodeled their locations also. The Children's Place is supposed to open September 19. The new Sears also opened over the summer. They still aren't done remodeling either.

  18. This is the official news article about sears closing
    Also includes mall managers hopes , saying the mall was getting a ton of interest.

  19. The mall announced today they will be doing a 10 million dollar renovation completely redoing everything inside and out and it will be completely in 2013


    It has actually been raised to an 18 million dollar remodel

  21. In May 2013 you need to revisit Bradley Square. That is when they plan to have the entire mall remodeled. It already looks a whole lot different. There is new paint going up inside , the new food court entrance has been finished, the theater opened a couple weeks ago, the floor is being replaced, Belk has had a substanal remodel including a change to their new logo, JCPenney and Kmart are supposed to start remodeling after the Christmas Season. Sears has talked of opening it's store back up. There are several new nation stores coming soon. Bradley Square seems to be doing a whole lot better than it was doing even a year ago...

    1. I would love it if FYE would come back to the mall. They had a store that closed in 2009 even though it was doing decent business. I live 65 miles away in North Carolina and love to drive to clevelland to shop and eat.

  22. I live 65 miles away in North Carolina and love to drive through the Ocoee George to come to Cleveland to shop and eat. I would love it if FYE would return to Bradley Square. They had a store there that closed in 2009 even though it was doing decent business.

  23. Kmart was not oringly at bradley square. The village held onto goodys till 1992.

  24. Things are going well now for Bradley Square. The mall turned around after Sears closed. Carmike is doing well and there are several new popular restaurants and stores at the mall including Children's place, justice, Luigi's Pizza and Santa Fe. Rue 21 actually moved into the mall from Hickory Plaza and Sears reopened as a Hometown Store. Dunhams isn't extremely popular. They also renovated the mall and actually kept the fountains and other nice features. It looks very nice inside and is more busy than ever before