Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Innsbruck Mall/Tunnel Road Shopping Center: Asheville, NC (Updated and Corrected 3/13/17)

Constructed in 1966, Innsbruck Mall arrived as Asheville's first modern enclosed mall.  Asheville, however, is no stranger to malls considering that its first actual mall was Grove Arcade, a gorgeous downtown historic arcade that was restored to its original purpose over the past decade.  Originally named Tunnel Road Shopping Center, the mall has surprisingly lingered far past what most malls were able to do as a niche mall with local service tenants, a few other interchanging inline stores and a rather healthy outdoor portion that sits below the mall.  I became aware of the mall after the deadmalls.com guys first posted a few shots of the mall in their photostream, but they never published a full set of it.  Seeing that an Ingles was actually anchoring an enclosed mall I just HAD to see it.  While always high on vacancies, Innsbruck Mall continues to be repurposed in some sorts making a mall that has otherwise remained untouched since the 70's live on.  I can imagine the reason for this largely lies in the fact that Asheville has become such a popular and relatively wealthy vacation destination helping the mall avoid the usual fate of malls of this age and condition.  Whatever the reason, I am so glad that it did not meet the wrecking ball before I ever knew it was there.


Innsbruck Mall today has no department store anchors, but it does have an empty anchor pad for a never-constructed department store on the front side.  Despite the presence of a Firestone auto center on the front of the mall, the mall never had JCPenney.  In fact, JCPenney had a store close to downtown that moved to nearby Asheville Mall in 1989.  Why Firestone is typically a clue is that mall-based JCPenney auto centers all converted to Firestone in the 1970's.  What the mall did have for original anchors was Mason's Department Store and a Winn-Dixie.  Mason's went out of business in 1975 and was replaced by Brendle's Catalog Showroom.  Winn-Dixie also left in 1975 and was replaced by what was then the rapidly-expanding Ingles chain who took over locations of closed grocery stores in those years.  Ingles has since grown into the dominant grocery chain in Western North Carolina and remained at the mall until 2006 filling out what appears to have been a 30 year lease on the store.  Brendle's also remained at the mall until the chain folded in 1996.  However, Brendle's never really "left" the mall considering that the family now owns the mall and leases out their former store.


A random storefront in the mall.  Note the old-style display cases and doors as if this were open-air and in downtown.  Perhaps this mall WAS originally open-air, but I have no way of knowing.  Only the 1950's and 60's malls had these kind of storefronts in malls, and I really prefer those by far.


Looking from the end facing Tunnel Road to the back of the mall.  Note that the mall seems to shrink toward the back.  It's plain, simple and classic.  These early malls were the best part about the 60's.



Both of these photos were taken in center court.  On the last photo, I think that in a redevelopment, that brick store would make a very nice Starbucks.  What do you think?

Innsbruck Mall obtained its name due to a since stripped down German theme the mall gained in the mid-70's that included such wonders as green astroturf (since removed) and Bavarian design cues, a few which remain in the mall.  Before that it was known as Tunnel Road Shopping Center.  Tenants in the mall in 1974 included Bailey's Cafeteria, Eckerds Drugs, Gordon's Jewelers, Macks Variety Store, Hickory Farms, Olan Mills, Snack Shack and Webster's.  It is unclear where these stores originally were, but many of the tenants even then were mostly local shops.  Despite the 1975 changes and later modifications, the mall has managed to hang on to most of its early mall elements in place: a plain, simple design; actual doors to all the tenants in lieu of the later open entrances and a strip mall element attached.  It also has many little strange quirks that were generally only found in the first generation malls as builders were still trying to figure out what they were and how they functioned such as the two sets of side steps/escalators providing access to the lower parking lot, a disconnected outward-facing strip underneath the mall, a grocery store that connected to the mall and mystery spaces in the mall that have moonlighted as various offices.


Off of center court is this wing off to Ingles, which is now dark since it closed in 2007.  The new store is beside the mall.  Just before the Ingles entrance is a store with an outside entrance that was converted into a side entrance to the mall.


A close-up of the vacant entrance and store, which still says "To Ingles" as if its still there.  This was the tiniest Ingles store I have ever been to, and I was glad to see it and get photos when it was still operational.  I actually wonder if it wasn't the very first Ingles.

Since Brendle's and Ingles closed, the mall has hardly stayed vacant although the interior mall has been looking a little deserted these days.  However, quite a few captive shoppers still enter the mall considering the NC DMV is one of the major tenants.  Ingles has since been replaced with the less intriguing Plasma Biological Services.  Big Lots and Office Depot operate side-by-side in the former Mason's/Brendle's with Big Lots getting to use the original mid-century entrance.  Anna's Linens left a void on the lower level of the mall when the chain folded, but Dollar General still operates next door in the former Eckerd Drugs.  One thing that I greatly treasure is that I was able to capture and put in this post photos of the classic Winn-Dixie/Ingles when it was in business.  This store in business is shown on an earlier post, and I will soon publish the other photos I took of the store in operation.  I did not photograph the mall at that point, because the mall is closed at 6:30 during the week and closed completely on Sundays.  As a result, I was unable to get in.  I returned later for more.


Here, I wanted to focus on this planter in front of the old Ingles entrance.  While planters are always nice in the malls, this and all the others in the mall are totally out of control.  Someone either needs to prune these or start from scratch.


Nope, this is NOT an emergency exit.  It's not even supposed to be a walkway!  This impromptu store with an outside entrance is being used as another mall entrance.  I hope someday a store can be put back in here, but it will take more than rock bottom leasing terms.

The mall itself does not even look like a mall on the outside anymore.  Graced with a stucco facade and inappropriate windows, the mall looks more like an office building than a mall, and that is most likely the direction the mall is headed as the remaining retail in the mall will likely relocate to one of the many golden opportunities across the city due to the decline of so many large chains.  This is why I did not take any outside photos much, because the recent exterior renovation disguised its original appearance, and it is quite ugly.  Inside, however, the only renovations that ever took place involved paint to make the mall lose some of its somewhat Bavarian-themed appearance.  This is unfortunate, as it took some of the charm away and also exposed quite clearly that the mall has some mold issues making it look deteriorated in spots.  That is probably to be expected, though, considering that most retail buildings in 1966 were built with flat roofs that notoriously leak.


Inside the REAL upper level mall entrance, which was drastically renovated recently (not pictured), is this hallway leading into the main part of the mall.  The mall is to the right, the window overlooking the lost anchor is to the left and straight ahead is the doors to the stairs and escalators down to the lower level parking lot.  These escalators in specific are a real treat!



Normally I wouldn't cover escalators in this detail, but these are special: in fact, rare.  That is because these are very old-style narrow gauge escalators barely wide enough for an average weight person to stand on.  They were in fact so skinny I was reluctant to get on them at first thinking they were rickety.  These were manufactured by Westinghouse and were all running smoothly at the time of my visit.


Looking up from the base of the stairs and escalator.


The bottom portal.  This stairwell and escalator pair has a twin arrangement like this between the Big Lots and center court.  Those are also featured here.

The most special aspect of the mall is that, like Asheville Mall, it is built into a hillside.  However, the mall was still single level with large stores and some offices put underneath in lieu of a two level mall.  The mall is accessible from the lower level parking lot via two entryways that include a flight of stairs with very classic narrow-gauge escalators on each side.  When I visited, the escalators were working fine and were interesting to ride as they seemed to be designed for thin people only.  Both escalator areas featured plain windows on the outside with some 60's tones that seemed to be leaking a bit.  One of these entrances came up around Big Lots/Brendle's and the other further out.  Another entrances comes from the parking lot on the upper level opposite side where I came in.  This side is handicap accessable and is in front of the old Ingles, which moved on an adjacent lot next to the mall into one of their modern superstores complete with Starbucks and specialty foods: none of which the old Winn-Dixie conversion was able to offer.


Yep, they have a directory.  The directory listing (not shown) pretty much shows the mall is over 50% vacant, which is by official definitions dead.  I think this could change, though, and I think it could happen without demolishing the mall itself.  However, I think the current owners pretty much view the mall itself as office space while the stores with outside entrances and direct parking lot access are viewed still as retail.  From the outside, it pretty much looks like ugly offices which is why I did not photograph it.

The mall itself has some of the most antique elements I have encountered, and gets minimal upkeep although it is super clean.  The planters in the mall, however, were out of control on my visit with the plants growing wildly out of their planters.  The skylights above provide plentiful light to the plants, and they are graced with a thin glazed glass below the dropped ceiling that is reminiscent of the era.  I removed some of these stripping down a 1950's/60's era house in a dropped ceiling, so I know they are old.  Some of the lighting in the main mall consists of very sleazy looking track lights with many bulbs burned out.  In front of the bathrooms was cris-crossed turqoise brick-shaped tiles that have not been seen since the era it was built.  The flooring was plain white tile that probably was installed sometime in the 80's or 90's.  In all, fans of first generation malls will definitely enjoy seeing this, and this place made me feel nostalgic for places like this from my early childhood.





Here are some shots of the abandoned Ingles inside and out.  I think this would make a good location for a Trader Joe's, and maybe even a Best Buy if the store was expanded into the mall.  However, I prefer the former option.  This actually was not the last "disco Ingles" in operation.  Hint, hint...

Today, aside from a few odd tenants the major traffic draw to the mall is the DMV office.  Lines stretch out into the mall, and the office itself is grossly inadequate.  It is obvious it has been there awhile as its walls are graced with wood paneling.  The DMV should negotiate with the mall to take over several larger spaces to create a better location to get a license since clearly vacancies are an issue while space in the mall for a modern DMV is not.  Another vintage mall in SC was being kept solely open by the DMV, so this is a familiar scenario in mostly forgotten malls that thankfully have not yet been disposed of.  An empty store next to Ingles with an outside entrance was in fact converted into a temporary entrance to allow easier access to the DMV.  The back of the mall has a dry cleaners, which is accessable just outside the rear mall entrance.  I did not explore back there so as not to bother the group of smokers outside.


Looking outside at the lost anchor believed to be Penney's.  This entire grassy plot obviously once housed a department store, and I really wonder why it was torn down.  That tree out there definitely looks to have been there since at least the early 1990's, and this window is the size and shape of an old mall entrance.  Both this and nearby Asheville Mall are situated in beautiful terrain as this view here suggests.

In all, Innsbruck Mall is a really fluky place to still be around in the state its in.  In any other city, a wrecking ball would have torn it to shreds sometime in the 90's.  I really can't predict how much longer it will be there, and neither can anyone else.  In fact, an article written in 2015 was speculating how much longer one of the deadest malls in the country manages to keep on living when so many like it are long gone.  Nonetheless, I definitely would not consider it a total loss even though the current perception of the mall is nothing more than an ancient dump with a few offices and no real stores anymore.  The mall serves a niche and is located on a vintage part of Tunnel Road that, while dated, is not necessarily a slum either.


Now for a look at the second escalator and stairwell.  To me, this is the perfect 60's mall shot.  Very mood, lots of glass and some gaudy orange thrown in.


Just when you think it couldn't get any better, just to the right of the stairwell is the perfect 60's combo: mysterious stairs, wall with turquoise brick-shaped tiles, dark brick on old store to the right with long shutters and some wood paneling thrown in on the side of the staircase.  This is downright groovy!



Now, take a look down these escalators including the orange panels in the window.  Also look outside at the Office Depot and Big Lots.  Here, I want to demolish both those stores outside, adding a two level structure outside and replacing the stairs (not escalators) here with a walkway straight across to the second level proposed movie theater and relocated Office Depot.  Hands off the escalators!!!


A look at the base of the escalators with the engraved "Westinghouse" logo.  I have never heard of Westinghouse escalators before I saw these.  I also love those big chunky handrails in lieu of those scary thin all-glass rails that are so hot today.

My previous prediction that the DMV would take over the old Ingles did not happen, but if the owners wish to continue to operate the mall in any capacity they must have something in mind.  Not only could the DMV take over a bunch of mall space, but a school/college, government offices or something else non-retail would likely be interested in the property at least in the short term.  Unfortunately, any of those changes will lead to the loss of what makes the mall so special: the vintage storefronts that have survived years of tenants entering and exiting the mall that has long been eclipsed by nearby Asheville Mall.



Have a seat!


The back wing is smaller, but not necessarily more dead.  The line in the background is to the DMV, which is why I don't have as much detail of that area.  Also, I would have liked to have photographed the DMV office with its wood paneling, but I scrapped that idea for obvious reasons.  This section of the mall is smaller and seedier.  The owners don't seem to like to replace burnt out lightbulbs...a common problem throughout.  Even though this part of the mall is isolated, it is actually doing the best.  An alterations shop is on the left and a beauty school is on the right.


I have to admit, the clusters of track lights look kind of junky, but I like them for some reason.  There is some sort of eccentric charm to the gaudiness of the 60's.  The back door is in the background, and considering it opens up only to the driveway to the back parking lot makes its presense seem kind odd.  It is nice, though, because it brings light into that part of the mall, and the hillside makes the mall look like it is in the middle of a lush forest.


Zooming in on the back door.  I didn't go out so as not to disturb the smokers enjoying their break.  What is amazing is that just outside the door to the right is a dry cleaners named Hour Glass Cleaners.  They are completely hidden from view behind Ingles, and they do not have a mall entrance.  Now I wish I had went out there, but I will be back.


This empty store next to the back door fascinates me.  It actually had a pretty small footprint, but it is genuine retro.  What exactly was this ever?

When the original post was written, the serious state of American retail was still not fully in focus, so I optimistically proposed a radical redevelopment that would turn this little mall into a hot ancillary mall including, of all things, a Borders Books (RIP) and the notoriously hard to lure Trader Joes in the old Ingles (Trader Joes instead opened in North Asheville on Merrimon Avenue).  Also, the vacant Ingles pretty much lost a shot at any future retail with a medical facility in its former location.  The possibility of any of that happening now is as realistic as Montgomery Ward coming back from the dead, but it was fun to speculate, so the plans that I drew up will remain in the post.


Zooming in on the skylights.  These skylights for some reason are not directly visible, hidden by these glazed glass panels somewhat yellowed with age.  These have to be original.  While plain, I really like this style actually in comparison to modern skylights.  It gives a really nice glow to the mall.

If a redevelopment back into a retail mall were to occur, some major structural changes would be needed.  This would include vastly modifying the strip mall section that made up the former Brendle's.  What I would do there is demolish the Office Depot and Big Lots, rebuilding on site as a two story enclosed strip wing to the mall with Costco on the bottom floor.  On the upper floor, the portion closest to the mall would have a replacement Office Depot and a 16 screen movie theater on the left.  The Costco could be built oblong into the back parking lot to allow an adequate sized store.  A parking deck would be built over the front lower lot.  In the front of the mall, the empty anchor pad would be filled with a sporting goods store such as Bass Pro Shops, Dick's, Cabela's or Academy Sports with two levels so that the top level opens directly into the mall.  Although the two level wing would modify the inner lower level entrance, the narrow gauge escalators would remain adding a level raised walkway to the new second level enclosed hallway part with steps put in near the theater with additional escalators.  The large window would also be removed since this area would be opened up.  The other escalator/stair entry would not be modified. 


This Firestone is a dead giveway that JCPenney used to be there.  The fact is that when Penney's abandoned the auto centers, they sold them all to Firestone.  This sits right at the foot of the lost store and it looks like its from the era.  If so, the Penney's here would have closed in the 1980's when it moved down to Asheville Mall.


Here is the lower level mall entrance.  Anna's Linen's is on the left and the grassy lost anchor spot is on the right.  Inside are the escalators featured in the first set of photos.


Anna's Linen's (now closed), Dollar General and Ball Photo make up the lower level of the mall.  They have no access to the upper level from the inside, but the area underneath goes deep.  This is the area I think would make a good DSW location.  In the background is Big Lots with an arched facade that was formerly the Brendle's entrance.  Brendle's was closed last time I saw it: obviously for a very long time.


A look at Big Lots (former Brendle's) and Office Depot, which took over part of the Brendle's.

As to the mall it self, keep the mall as is, but clean up the place a bit adding more contemporary flooring, updated lighting (retro 60's only) and replant the planters.  All ceiling tiles will also have to be replaced as well as fixing sagging spots.  Also, repaint the ceiling and non-store walls to a more muted contemporary color scheme.  Do NOT replace the escalators.  Do nothing to the general structure inside the mall, though, as the 60's design with the new anchors would make it more of a niche and interesting touch.  Also, do not allow anchor tenants to modify the original storefronts even if they need to expand into several stores for adequate space.  The vintage entrances should remain as part of the charm.  On the outside, however, I would definitely go for an all-out bavarian design to match up with the name.  Make it look like Biltmore Village!


In 2009, I drew up this redevelopment plan, which could work with a few modifications if enough retail stores were interested.  From these Google Maps photos, I pieced together this redevelopment plan.  Note the light blue area, which would be a new enclosed hallway fronting the lower level where I am recommending a Costco.  DSW would take over the existing three tenants on the lower level.  This would also be the lower level of Outdoor World, which would front the improved mall.  


The upper level plan is a bit more dramatic featuring a new parking deck, relocated Office Depot, new movie theater, new bookstore, new Trader Joes in the old Ingles and some renovations to the mall aside from a new multi-story Outdoor World.  The parking deck would provide direct access to Outdoor World and Office Depot via the upper level enclosed walkway.

The fact is that Innsbruck Mall may be old and dated, but it is a survivor in a nice area in a prime retail corridor.  So many of us are pretty stunned that such a vintage mall with no real anchor has remained open all these years later when many other far superior malls died off.  Note the modified aerial photos included here that show my idea for the mall.  I only wish that Asheville and the Brendle family could come together and discuss some really creative ideas to improve on and rescue this mall.  A real investment with creative design might just bring a mall that most citizens of Asheville wrote off decades ago into a real destination for both locals and tourists alike that provides far more excitement than the line at the DMV.

FURTHER INTEREST:

FOUR videos of the mall along with a 1970's ad of the mall are available on YouTube featuring a dead mall whose popularity only seems to be increasing:

The Most Dead Mall in America: Innsbruck Mall, Asheville, NC [um, there are deader]
Tour Asheville's Nearly Dead Innsbruck Mall [Zombie mall!]
Exploring the Dead Innsbruck Mall [but you can still walk right in without being arrested!]
Exploring the Dead Innsbruck Mall [same title, different person]

Also see this awesome (yet completely cheesy) ad from 1987!

In addition, these aspiring rappers apparently felt the mall had some street cred.

51 comments:

  1. The Big Lots/Office Depot anchor looks suspiciously like a Mason's. Mason's was a regional discount store operation that opened a number of large locations in the '60s and '70s in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia, possibly even Tennessee. They all had that general look, with the arched entry and huge front windows, topped off with a massive sign which was likely removed in the Brendle's era. Mason's was pretty much dead by the end of the '70s, which is when Brendle's was in their big expansion push.

    The other anchor that was demolished is a mystery, though I can say with some certainty that it was not a JCPenney. For one thing, JCPenney stayed downtown into the 1980s in Asheville. The Firestone doesn't look like any Penney's auto center I've ever seen either, especially from that era. Penney's used a standardized design for its auto centers into the early '70s. That store looks like a variation on a typical Firestone-built design of the era, with the large upper level area for tire storage. There is a built from scratch Firestone in Roanoke, Va. that has the same general look, though this one at Innsbruck has better details.

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    1. Innsbruck Mall opened as "Tunnel Road Shopping Center" in the early to mid 60's. My uncle, Perry Alexander built it. Mason's was the largest store at the time, and Brendle's opened in it's place. There was NOT an anchor store that was demolished - that was the Terrace Theater - a movie theater. There was never a J.C. Penney store there.

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  2. My brother insists that the Big Lots/Office Depot was the original Montgomery Ward and that J.C.Penney's was indeed in the front where the missing anchor was. But that leaves me at odds as to where Ivey's was, if it was indeed at Innsbruck. Ingle's seems to have always been there and was one of the earliest locations, but not the first.

    Online there is little documenting Asheville's retail scence. J.C. Penney took Denton Department stores location on Haywood Street in Downtown, near the downtown Ivey's and Bon Marche' locations, in the mid-30's, but nothing states when Penney's left downtown. Asheville boomed during the early 20th century, reaching its zenith in the roaring 20s'. But the Depression hit hard, and all six local banks failed- Wachovia, based out of Winston-Salem survived, and the city and county were left heavily indebted, but never defaulted on the bonds-Asheville didn't pay off its bonds that financed the boom until the late 70's, and it would not be until the late 80's that the region again began to grow.

    I'll admit that in the 80's I was more impressed with the construction of I-240 taking traffic from Tunnel Road, than the retail scene. Seeing I-40's construction off Black Mountain down to Old Fort(using the steep grade of US 70) was more attention grabbing to me as a teen than retail history.
    By the time I noticed, Asheville Mall had dominated the scene, Biltmore Square had been lackluster in performance, Innsbruck was left for dead, though quite alive, and Westgate was well past its prime.

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  3. I stick by my Mason's estimation. I have a book on mass merchandising by Robert Drew-Bear, who was considered one of the most credible retail writers of his era, which specifically stated Mason's opened a store in Asheville in 1965. The design of that Big Lots entrance, the size of the anchor building and the general time frame of this mall's construction suggest that this lower anchor is the Mason's he mentioned.

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    1. i have lived in asheville nc all my life im 48 yrs old and the big lots store was originally a masons dept store never pennys. my mother worked at the bavarian cellar the entrance is around by the ingles it went down like in a basement itwas a german restaurant.and gecippes was around where ball photo is and eckerds was where annas linens is and there was a hallmark where the furniture place is and upstairs there was a pet store to the left down the short hall a bueaty salon a shoe store and bridal shop lots of stores up there too many to remember

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  4. This is the information I got from a friend of mine who spent most of his life in Asheville.

    The only anchor at Innsbruck was Sky City, which replaced Mason's. There was a big Eckerd's in the part fronting Tunnel Road. He said there never were any other department stores of any type at Innsbruck. While there is a building that looks as if it were a department store, it wasn't. He said that there was a large record store/music company upstairs at one point. Neither Ivey's nor Bon Marche ever were located at Innsbruck Mall.

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  5. This still doesn't explain the grassy knoll. Obviously something as there, but what was it?

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  6. From what I'm piecing together, the grassy knoll was empty intended to be a department store anchor. Perhaps Asheville Mall lured away the potential anchors for this spot with its expansion. Since I don't recall much about Innsbruck other than it was near Asheville Mall, I'll defer to Steven with regards to the BigLots/Office Depot being Mason's with which I'm unfamiliar and later Sky City, which I am familiar, and had numerous locations in Asheville, Western NC, Upstate SC, NGA and East TN. Looking at the pictures I can't help but wonder if the "mall wing" was a later addition to a strip center which aligned with Mason's to Ingles.

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  7. Here's how it looks to me. This was obviously a first generation mall: possibly built as early as 1961 since I realized Ingles did not open here originaly. Some first-generation malls were not built with any department store anchor, though hope was out there they would.

    These malls typically struggled and have mostly died off as they failed to attract enough expansion and critical mass. Similar examples I can think of in this regard are Eastwood Mall in Birmingham (Newberry's, Hill's Food Store as only anchors) and Westgate in Macon, GA (Colonial Stores and Newberry's as only anchors). Eastwood was the only one to attract a department store, and that did not happen until 9 years after the mall opened.

    Considering this, plans for Asheville Mall in the late 60's most likely overshadowed Innsbruck for a major anchor at a time it would have gotten one...most likely Ivey's or similar. The total lack of land for expansion was a particularly large problem for the mall as well. The mall would have had to build up instead of out, and that wasn't the way it was done in the late 60's/early 70's.

    Sky City could have been knocked down for a department store, but Bon Marche/Meyers-Arnold was never interested since they seemed to maintain a close downtown store and a store at Westgate...it just did not have enough to offer to justify the expense. Ivey's apparently did not want to jump on board, and Penney's at that point obviously was not looking to downsize in the front of a mall with inadequate parking. It's too bad that Innsbruck wasn't seized and expanded dramatically in the mid-1980's so that failed Biltmore Square had not been built.

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  8. MASONS WAS THERE,ECKERDS WAS THERE WERE THE LINEN SHOP IS NOW AT ONE TIME THERE WAS A RESTURANT CALLED THE BARVAIAN CELLER WAS ON THE OLD INGLES SIDE YOU WALKED DOWN TO GET TO.GERMAN FOOD GREAT PLACE TO EAT

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  9. THERE WAS A FRANKS ROMAN PIZZA UP STAIRS AND A FOX CAMERA ON THE BOTTOM LEVEL.

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  10. The mall known now as Innsbruck opened originally in 1964 as a free standing Masons Discount Store, a division of M. H. Fishman 5 & 10s. Originally called Tunnel Road Shopping Center, the mall portion of the center was built during 1965 and opened with the following stores: Eckerd Drugs, Macks Variety, Empress Beauty Salon, Estas Flowers and Candles, Luther Appliance Mart, Mill Fabrics, Moseley Shoes, The Pump Room, Sun Finance, Sunshine Laundry, Superior Hourglass Cleaners, Tom Thumb Raceways - slot car track, Tru-Fit Fashions and Webster Clothes. An outparcel was occupied by a Firestone Tire Store. There never was another department store anchor - No Bon Marche, No Iveys, and definately no J. C. Penney, which remained downtown into the 1980s.
    By 1968 stores added to the mix include Bailey's Cafeteria, Barn-n-Purr Pets, Dunwood Jewelers, Ed Dyers Record Center, The Gift Barn, Family Hobby Center. and in another outparcel in the rear, the Terrace Theater. About 1970s Ingles Markets relocated a store from their location (a former Colonial Store) about a mile east to a location built on the west side of the center. This addition finished out the footprint of the center as it exists today.

    The center was, along with Westgate, a vital part of Asheville's retail scene for the next few years, until the opening of Asheville Mall. That opening, coupled with the bankruptcy of M.H.Fishman, resulting in the closing of Masons, was the beginning of the end. Brendles occupied the Masons space after a brief vacancy, but many of the mall stores had closed or relocated to other area centers. When I returned to Asheville in 1987, Tunnel Road Center had been renamed Innsbruck Mall - late 1979-early 1980 - and the stores with exterior entrances included Brendles, Eckerds, Ball Photo, and Ingles, along with several smaller shops. Upstairs in the mall, all I can remember were some service type businesses like a barber shop, insurance office, cleaners and the DMV, and a Christian bookstore. With Brendles bankruptcy, that space was divided between Big Lots and Office Depot. Ingles survived until the last few years before relocating next door to a former Wal-Mart.
    Its hard to say what will happen next. The mall is an awkward layout, and I've looked for it to be partially demolished for years and rebuilt into a more conventional layout. Only time will tell.

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  11. The Innsbruck Theatre was a duplex (that was once a single Theatre?) built in a round building. They tried to show Indie movies in the 90's to keep it going, then $2 movies until it closed. It is still there, abandoned, loved only by hornets, mice and mold.

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  12. I can tell you for a fact that JC Penney did not leave downtown until the 1980's I moved to Asheville in 1981 and remember many dreaded trips downtown each summer to get new school clothes. JC Penney's was one of my mom's favorite places. When the Asheville mall expanded later in the 80's, JC Penney moved there. There was NEVER a JC Penney retail store in the Innsbruck Mall.

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  13. I found the following article which described the "recently opened Tunnel Road Shopping Center." The article was written in January 1966, so I would assume the place was openned in 1965.

    Tunnel Road Shopping Center was the name of this place until around 1977 when it was changed to "Innsbruck Mall."

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4FQsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8swEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2354,3553734&dq=tunnel-road-shopping-center&hl=en

    Looking at other clippings available online, it appears the place once had a Cafeteria named "Bailey's" in the 60's.

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  14. Many thanks on finding this. I will update this post soon, because it still has many errors.

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  15. During this mall's demise, the major upstairs anchor store was a local, independent Christian bookstore, The Carpenter's Shop. As you can guess by how empty this was, they had all the retail space they wanted and occupied two store slots. (If you came up the escalator pictured, they were to the right at the far end, near the window overlooking the green strip.) Eventually, The Carpenter's Shop became a Family Christian chain bookstore. (I guess whoever owned it sold out? I don't know the story.) When the new Bleachery Road Wal-Mart opened, the Family Christian store moved out there to a smaller space. They carry much less inventory now. Remember this is Asheville, NC, the heart of the Bible Belt. The Carpenter's Shop was a major supplier of religious material (Bibles, Sunday School materials, books for pastors, etc.) for the entire WNC region in the pre-Internet days before Asheville even had Books-A-Million or Barnes-and-Noble. Eventually, LifeWay opened a store (in the Office Max shopping center) which competed with Family Christian, but for a long time The Carpenter's Shop was the only business supplying religious literature in town. So it anchored the Innsbruck Mall for a long time after Brendle's closed. (Wal-Mart moving in to Asheville and WNC pretty much killed off Brendle's, Sky City, Roses, Kings, etc - all the department stores.)

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  16. Ok, the redevelopment plan is AWESOME, but there could be a few changes. I like the storefronts, planters and the skylights but the floors are ugly and need to be replaced. A fountain could be added in the center court. Borders has closed their chain, so Bass Pro Shops could expand into the proposed Borders. The small mom and pop stores need to move. Macy's is consindering opening a store in East Tennnessee. If they can't open one there, Asheville is their backup. So Macy's could dig out the Ingles and make a 2-story store and have a back enterance. Belk could relocate from Asheville Mall into the proposed Costco if Asheville Mall wants to receive some more high-end tenants. A 60's styled food court could be added.

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  17. In addition to my other plans, I think the mall should be renamed Buncombe Square. Anna's Linens and Dollar General could be moved to a proposed strip of mine butting up to Mineral Springs Road on the south edge of mall premises. Parking would be on-street spaces. I think and agree with the author that the center court should still have a fountain, the floors should be replaced, the planters should be trimmed, the ceiling should be fixed, the mall's interior needs to be painted, and the outside should be renovated, their should be a replacement Office Depot and new theatre and a new enclosed hallway, Bass Pro should move into the proposed Borders, and the mom and pop stores should move out. I also think their should be an elevator south of the center court. The mall should feature outlets on the second level other the Bass Pro, Office Depot and theatre. Macy's, Belk and the food court are part of a backup plan. Trader joes and Costco can still be part of the plan.

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  18. To the commenter here, I am going to modify the redevelopment plan here to this mall when I update the post. There is some additional information I will be adding as well.

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  19. Penney's was never located at Innsbruck Mall. It was located downtown on Battery Park Ave next the current Haywood Park Hotel. The building has been raised and is now condominiums. Penney's remained at that site until 1989. I knew one of the former merchandising managers who worked there. In the summer they had to go on the roof to switch on the A/C. The second floor of the wing you thought was a Penney's was originally a S&W Cafeteria, which over time became a Bailey's Cafeteria, and finally become Hallmark Cafeteria in the end. On the ground floor was a German-Italian restaurant. I remember it being called the Windmill. It was called something else prior to the Windmill, I cannot recall the name. The grassy plot was alway been a grassy plot. Office Depot and Big Lots was originally Mason's. I have a copy of an old Asheville Citizen newspaper which has an advertisement for Winn-Dixie. The Ingles was originally a Winn-Dixie. Firestone has always been Firestone.

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    1. the restaurant was called bavarian cellar the restaurant on the other side beside ball photo was called gieceppes it had colored plastic windows it had teen nite then became the study hall for teenagers a place for teens to hangout had foose ball dance floor and all then it became night gallery my momwas the cook for both places the kitchen was between them you could walk out the back at the loading dock underneath and up a hallway to get to the kitchen and then to gieceppes it was crazy how this place is set up

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  20. Life Way Christian Book Store used to be called Baptist Book Store. It was it Asheville long before the Carpenter's Shop existed.

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  21. I,m back. I posted my ideas on April 11 and 30. However, those plans are backups. Here is my general plan. I agree with J.T. that the the mall should be fixed up a little. DSW, Bass Pro Shops,Costco, Office Depot and the movie theater can move into their proposed positions. Trader Joes, however is too upscale for the Asheville market. I live in Tennessee and the only Trader Joes in the state is in an upscale neighborhood in Nashville. I would think Rainforest Cafe would make a good fit for Ingles. They could paint it jungle colors. Bass Pro should expand into the propsed Borders, because Borders chain is failing. God's World could be relocated could be relocated to a differeent storefront in the mall. There needs to be a small food court directly south of the center court (right before you reach the escalators, relocated Office Depot, and movie theater). The mall should be renamed Buncombe Oaks, NOT Buncomebe Square. There would be outlets you'd find in a Belz Factory Outlet world. I looked at the mall map in your photo and there's this huge empty store on the upper level that should be divided into 3 or 4 outlets. I will include more suggestions in a later post because I have to go to a meeting right now.

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  22. I'm about to say no to Costco actually. I think Bass Pro Shops should be where Costco/Office Depot was planned, Macy's on the front and either Office Depot or a theater where Ingles was. I would also consider luring in Books-A-Million from its current location to the site of the old Ingles. Possibly the Ingles location could be reconstructed to a two-level facility with the theaters on the top level with escalators connecting to it from inside the mall. I just haven't had a chance to revamp this post yet.

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  23. Actually the name of the mall should be renamed to Tunnel Ridge Mall or Beaucatcher Plaza or something like that.

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  24. There are two reasons I think the mall should be renamed Buncombe Oaks.
    1. Asheville is the county seat of Buncombe County.
    2. JT's plan is similar to the design of the former 100 Oaks Mall in Nashville.

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  25. Actually I grew up in Asheville.The Innsbruck Mall had a Brendle's where Big Lot's was located,when Brendle's closed they built on to the side of the building for an Office Depot.The Innsbruck Mall has been empty like that for a long time,probably within a few years since the Ashevile Mall was built which was 1972 I believe,so it's history of stores is pretty scarce but very nostalgic.The old abandoned movie theater was called the Terrace Twin to be precise.The Asheville Mall had the following stores in the early/mid 80's:Upton's(located roughly where Suncoast is)Chick Fil'A(which wrapped around Journey's)Baskin Robbin's(located immediately on the right side as soon as you enter,a reataurant is there currently)Woolworth's and diner(go past suncoast,it was almost the entire right hand side of the next 3 stores)The Ivey's was located where Dillard's is in the square in fact there was a side exit which is where Sharon's Luggage is which about 1 more store past Pipes Ltd. was where the mall originally ended,there was a restaurant beside the pipe store called Litchfield's and beside Belk's there was a hallway that led to a nice restaurant called Annabelle's.Where the bathrooms are in the square,they seal up a entrance to a old Picadilly's Cafeteria and a crafty store(sold wind chimes,wooden santa's,stuff like that) Piccadilly was relocated when the mall's garage/food court/stores were finished in 2001.Piccadilly lasted only 4 years,thier space was very small,used to be huge.A Corn Dog 7 was where Banana Republic is,B. Dalton was beside it bottom of the steps,followed by a K&K Toys.The escalator took you to a chain of small stores can't remember them all but one was a jewelry store-4 stores total on that floor.The American Cookie Co.,Sears,Belk's,and Pipes Ltd. are the only original stores left.In 1995 the mall was gutted for a Montgomery Ward's(entrance was located at Dillard's where Cinnabon and Hallmark is).The Asheville Mall got an expansion in 1989 where Litchfield's was and ended where Lenscrafters and an arcade called Aladdin's Castle was.The expansion had neon lights which ran along the entire ceiling of the expansion.Let me know if I can fill you in on anything from the early 90's:)-Brad

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  26. I can tell you that the area of Innsbruck Mall that is occupied now by Office Depot and Big Lots was a Mason's discount store, I worked there while I was in school from 1974 to 1975 when they closed. Brendle's moved into the space and when they went under it was divided into two spaces.

    There was a dime store across from Mason's where the escalator goes up to the second floor (can't remember the name) and a large Eckerd's drug store. Ball Photo has been there for many years and during the late 70's and early 80's there was also a nightclub in this section called the "Night Gallery".

    Upstairs during the sixties there was a Bailey's cafeteria (same as the one at Westgate, later became Hallmark), a Royce Shoe store, Webster's (men's clothes) Dunham's Music House which sold pianos, organs, everything related to music, and televisions and stereos . . . . . we got our first color tv there (a large Magnavox console model). Dunham's had originally been in downtown Asheville but I think there store there was destroyed by a fire. There was also a Hickory Farms store which later moved to the Asheville Mall and a book store. The restaurant which was located in the basement was named the "Bavarian Cellar", it had a great bar and when you went down there it was like walking into a beer hall in Munich. Which reminds me that once Hitler's Mercedes-Benz (it was gold color) was on display in the open area of the second level.

    There was never a Penny's there and to my knowledge no other large department store. The Terrace theatre was behind the mall and was a really nice theatre at one time, it was eventually divided into two screens and is now vacant and in ruins.

    If anyone has information about the Northland shopping center on Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville (particularly Toy Town) during the 1960's please comment.

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  27. JC Penny was never in the Innsbruck mall, it moved from downtown the building beside Haywood Park Hotel to its current location in the Asheville Mall. JCP never owned nor operated Firestone nor did it have ties with auto centers. Brendles department store was in the space that Big Lots is now in.

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  28. I THINK THE OLD INGLES SHOULD BECOME A FOOD COURT

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  29. Remember the bridal store at innsbrook?

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  30. Babes Maloy Drive In just outside the tunnel, and Dunkin Doughnuts.

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  31. Northland Shopping, or FreshMarket,was the perfect place to park to go across to the Disco place across street. Drawing a blank. Not Doc's Rock shop. Hey, over the Mexican below Steinmart you could see the lettering for the Disco that used to be there.
    Behing Innsbrook Mall, the theatre was funky retro and you could cut up that side street from Kennilworth to get to it.

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  32. The Highlander was across the street from what is now Fresh Market. And the club beneath what is now Stein Mart was called The Cosmic Ballroom.

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  33. MASONS was the first anchor store. It went out of business and Brendles took over the spot.

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  34. Found an interesting article from last year in Asheville's indy weekly regarding Innsbruck, complete with a short video — http://www.mountainx.com/article/4113/Innsbruck-Mall-Take-an-Xpress-tour-and-give-us-your-thoughts

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  35. I remember Christmas shopping with my dad at the Brendals. I was probably no more than 9 years old, so no later than 91. There was a craft store and photography repair place with outside entrances on the bottom. The top inside was scary to me then, cause it was like a ghost mall. I want to say there was an entrance into the ingles directly from the mall. As long as I lived with my dad (til 2000) we would go to the tag office there cause the line was much shorter.

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    1. Funny that you said it was scary, I vaguely remember going to a haunted house in Innsbruck mall sometime in the first half of the 80's. Earlier than that there was a Spa Lady upstairs, too. 1984 and 1985, there was a bar downstairs that used to have live rock bands.

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    2. The DMV has moved out in the last year or so.

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  36. I paid a brief visit to Innsbruck this past week when I was in Asheville. The Ingles in your photographs has been completely whitewalled off so you can't see the interior from the mall entrance and the storefront is gone. The To Ingles sign is still there. Wonder if they signed a tenant to take over that space and that's why it's being redeveloped.

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  37. In the late 60's one of the stores to the right of the elevators was a pet store. I thought there was also a movie theater there. I don't remember Mason's being in this area. They must have moved out in the mid to late 60's. I was thinking Skycity or Roses? My Dad worked at Firestone way back then. That is why we had all of the Firestone Christmas albums and the Firestone Vacuum cleaner.

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  38. Cooper Travel was upstairs near the tag office in the '80's. I remember the bridal shop, the craft store, Eckerd's, Brendles, and the clock repair shop upstairs.

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  39. In 1969, when Asheville was named an All-American City, the Tunnel Road Shopping Center & Mall (which became Innsbruck Mall in the 1970s) took out an ad in the local paper to congratulate the city. The ad listed all of the stores at that time:
    Bailey's Cafeteria, Bark 'n' Purr Pet Shop, Bar-T Saddle & Bridle Shop, Bavarian Cellar, Carpet Sop, Country Cobbler Shoes, Dunham's Music House, Creative Yarns, Dad 'n' Lad Shop, Dunwody Jewelers, Eckard's Drugs, Ed Dyer's Record and Tape Center, Elaine Powers Figure Salon, Empress Beauty Salon, Fabric Barn, Firestone ire & Rubber, Hourglass Cleaners, Giuseppe's, L&M Barber Shop, Luther Appliance Mart, McDonald's, Mack's Variety, Mason's, Moseley Shoe Service, Munford Store, Northwestern Bank, Pride 'N' Joy, Royce Shoes, Snack Shack, Sun Finance, Sunshine Laundry, Family Hobby Center, The Gift Barn, Terrace Theatre, Tru-Fitt Fashions, Wash & Wax, Webster Clothes, and Winn-Dixie

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    1. As the niece of the builder/owner of Tunnel Road Shopping Center, I can tell you this is accurate. The first "department" store was Mason's - later Brendle's. Builder/owner was Perry Alexander.

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  40. Lived in Asheville my entire life. The 5th picture down, the brick store used to be Sherman's Sports in the 90's. Even when I was a kid in the early 80's this mall was dead. The biggest thing to happen to it was the Brendles store beside it. I used to go there all the time when I was little and ride the escalators up and down. (They are pretty long). They had the one and only NC tag office in there for the longest time until they opened some other ones. Also, there was a suit/alterations shop up there and a Christian bookstore. They recently opened a large furniture store in it too, but they have already closed. The outside of this mall used to exactly look like a Bavarian lodge and for some reason, around 2002 they decided to completely redo the whole outside. Why they did this I don't know because every thing inside stayed the same. Even the advertisements on the hallway displays are the same as when I was a kid.

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  41. There was never a Penny's store at this mall. No Ivey's either.

    My aunt and uncle owned Dunwody Jewelers up in the main mall.

    I really hope that someone can make something out of this space again. It was the place to shop until the Asheville Mall opened.

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  42. I worked at Mason's from the opening in 1965 until it closed in 1975. It was the only department store in the shopping center.

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  43. The Ingle's at Innsbruck Mall was store # 7. Ingle's # 1 no longer exists, but Ingle's #2 is still open in Asheville at the corner of Patton Ave. and Leicester Hwy. # 3 is on Merrimon Ave. # 4 is further down Tunnel Rd. in Oteen, across from the VA Hospital. # 5 is on Haywood Road in west Asheville. # 6 is out of town, in Thomasville NC.

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  44. Hooray! Someone finally got it right about the early stores. Thank you Anonymous Sept 3, 2013. Some of you got it right about businesses that opened later as the early ones faded out. The Mason's did become Brendle's, but there has never been an Ivey's, Penny's, Montgomery Ward, Sky City, or other major retailer other than Masons/Brendles. The mall, or mini-mall as we called it, has struggled since the late 70s, shortly after the Asheville Mall opened. So the stores at Innsbruck have had many incarnations. The movie theater was the free-standing, slightly odd shaped building to the left and around the corner of Office Depot.

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  45. I moved up here in the late 90s and It seems at some point the Bavarian Cellar was called something else. It served Indian, German, and French cuisine and was run by an Indian guy named Vijay. IT was somehow related to the Flying Frog Cafe downtown. Both restaurants were really good and I miss them both.

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