Nevertheless, the owners at the time did not quite give up hope on a languishing mall. Instead, they undertook an elaborate and highly attractive renovation to the mall in 1995, attempting to "upscale" it by adding Parisian as an anchor as well as a supplemental Oshman's Sporting Goods as a junior anchor. Inside, many upscale tenants such as Williams-Somona were lured into the mall, and initially the change was very successful. Nevertheless, the addition of Parisian to the mall was far too risky. Parisian was not familiar to South Carolina, and its ability to attract an upscale demographic proved ineffective in the fickle market of the state. A few years after it opened, the owners of Parisian downgraded the store to more mid-tier Proffitt's, an even less familiar store from East Tennessee.
Some left over arched canopies sit between what is left of the mall and a popular movie theater added late in its life.
The downgrade to Proffitt's was proving a devastating blow to the mall. This was accelerated by the fact that Dillard's bought out J.B. White in 1998, which was likely not suspected in 1995. Dillard's already had a newer and nicer store at Haywood Mall than the older, smaller White's, and the store was immediately downgraded to an outlet after the purchase. Montgomery Ward was also in trouble as a company, a sure sign that the mall would soon be as well. Greenville Mall's anchor issues offered little hope of attracting replacements since the upscale anchor plan flopped, and Haywood had all the good anchors.
Walk inside the mall, and this is all you are allowed to see. More mall is still standing straight ahead, but it is empty and open to the elements. The Wards mall entrance is to the left. I found this sight a bit painful to see. Another Generation X & Y Main Street has bitten the dust.
Proffitt's had pulled out of the Carolinas somewhere in that time prior to the Belk buyout, and this left an obvious void at the mall where Parisian had tried to save it. In 2000, Montgomery Ward also liquidated, and somewhere in that time span Dillard's closed their outlet. At that point, the last remaining anchor was Oshman's, which was bought out around that time by Sports Authority. Despite a major renovation only a few years prior, the mall was doomed. Absolutely nothing could save it no matter how much money had been dumped into it only five years prior.
A bit more detail of the Sports Authority mall entrance and walled off area with a skylight remaining.
In 2006, demolition began of the by then largely vacant mall. It seemed that all was going well in the plan to modify the mall into a new lifestyle center known as "Magnolia Park", but then something strange happened. In the middle of demolition, work stopped and part of the mall on the east end was left standing. This included the former Montgomery Ward, still clad with its last logo used. This also included the still-occupied Sports Authority. Because of this, the mall entrance into the mall in front of Sports Authority was kept open and a portion of the mall still stands today, though all but the area right in front of Sports Authority was sealed off to the public. The credit crisis was part of what stalled the demolition, so what is left of the mall today stands as a very creepy reminder of one of the most colossal failures of retailing.
Despite the mall's pretentions of being a quintessential 90's mall, this extremely brutalist exterior suggests otherwise. I see nothing here that is not stark and retro.
Wards here has been vacant for nearly a decade, yet very oddly it just looks closed for the night. Apparently the store got quite a facelift in the 90's, and it shows. Wards failure was devastating for many malls despite the public's derision of the chain best known for 70's throwback stores and its status as a distant second to Sears.
Nevertheless, a small part of the new lifestyle center was completed. A new Costco flanks the western end of the mall where White's once stood and a movie theater built during the last renovation on the east end continues to do exceptionally well. In addition, the corridor around it was forgiving of the retail disaster: it has exploded since then. In all honesty, it seems that Greenville Mall is cursed. The first mall failed, the second attempt failed worse and now it seems that trying to redevelop it has also been cursed. You have to wonder how a place could cause everybody that touches it so much trouble. Still, it was a very important chapter in Greenville retail history, and I wish that I could have seen it just before and right after the 1995 overhaul.