Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haywood Mall: Greenville, SC

Haywood Mall is South Carolina's shining star.  It is by far the best and largest mall in the state, eclipsing Westgate Mall in Spartanburg and newer Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach.  However, a notable difference separates the two malls, and that is that Haywood Mall has the perfect mall anchor lineup.  Anchors at Haywood Mall are Macy's, Sears, Belk, JCPenney and Dillard's.  With a lineup like that, this mall is invincible, and it is likewise one of only three* two-level malls found anywhere in the state.  The others, Richland Mall, has fallen on hard times as its anchor plan proved too risky and Columbia Place is strangely fading away.  Haywood Mall, on the other hand, emerged among two other malls to crush them completely through their own expansion, department store bankruptcies and consolidations of anchors at the other two malls.  The public concurs that this mall is everything and more, and it shows by the huge parking lot filled almost completely with cars.  Only Mall of Georgia draws more of a crowd, and Haywood's expansion was desperately needed in Greenville to discourage South Carolina shoppers from making the jaunt down I-85 to the extravaganza in Buford, GA or up I-85 to the overall better malls of Charlotte.

While Haywood was very much responsible for the death of McAlister Square and Greenville Malls, the fact was that both of those malls were very lacking in very important areas.  Greenville Mall was too far from downtown and was not laid out correctly.  It had a poor choice of anchors that proved unstable and unsuitable, and its strange placement on a narrow strip of land made it very one-sided like a strip mall.  McAlister Square was just too plain and too old in an area that was likewise trapped in the 60's.  Haywood, too, was a pretty basic two level mall, but two level malls have proven to be a rare commodity in the Palmetto State and its big expansion created unlimited possibilities.  Also, this mall seems to have everything: sit down restaurants (Panera Bread and Ruby Tuesday), the only Borders Express I have seen, pretty much every mid-market trendy clothing store and a very attractive interior design that seems to have turned out to remain pretty contemporary for a mall built in 1980. 

The original part of the mall has two very oddly located escalators.  They seem to drop down off to the side away from center court, and they do so singularly on different sides.  Cumberland Mall in Atlanta had this set-up prior to the 2007 renovation.

The food court comes off the side of the original mall.  Like most malls of that vintage, it was added on as an addition and pops up like an afterthought.  It is close to Sears.

Haywood Mall forms an odd-shaped L, but it brought some personality to what started out as a painfully basic mall.  The design of Belk, though, is rather strange as if it was always designed for expansion.

On the outside, though, Haywood Mall shows its real age a bit.  The Macy's, which opened as Rich's, is a plain brick rectangle.  The Belk is quite interesting and quite retro, but it screams disco era.  Nevertheless, its uniqueness is unparalleled and needs to remain.  It opened originally as Belk Simpson.  JCPenney in design is identical to the store at Georgia Square Mall, also built in 1980, with its plain brick appearance accented by lights around the entry area.  Sears features a very outlandish and gaudy Logan's Run-style entry.  Dillards, added in 1995, is cookie-cutter 90's Dillard's design.  It shoudl be noted that the Dillard's was not new to the market.  It replaced the older Dillard's at McAlister Square that started out as Ivey's.  A parking deck was also constructed in front of JCPenney.

Macy's, formerly Rich's, comes directly off of the center court.  Belk faces the Macy's, but actually has a wing attached to it. 

Belk's original mall entrance, formerly Belk Simpson.  The size of the logo and space for the additional "Simpson" seems fairly obvious here.  A Borders Express (not pictured) is to the left of the entrance.

Sears...tiled, basic and bland as usual in this mall.  I sure wish Sears would not make every mall entrance identical with that ugly tile.

JCPenney's mall entrance here features the diagonal wood facade behind the sign.  It is located on the north end of the original mall.

Haywood Mall's success can mostly be attributed to very aggressive marketing, a forward-thinking two level design and just plain great choices in anchors.  It is actually not in the best location for a mall in the city.  Greenville Mall was actually the best located mall with high visibility and a location easily accessable from I-85.  Haywood Mall is off of I-385 closer into the city in what seems like a less prime retail location, but the lack of land for Greenville Mall to expand hampered its progress in comparison the plentiful land and blossoming strip development that sprouted on Haywood Road just south of the exit.  It can be said that a mall, no matter how successful it seems at the time, will fail if it does not attract or maintain the surrounding strip development.  While Haywood shared the prime retail corridor with Greenville Mall, the two were close enough that the strip development formed an L in conjunction with Woodruff Road (SC 146).  Nevertheless, Haywood Road is not even a marked state highway for even greater curiosity, though it is a state-maintained secondary road (South Carolina maintains most of their roads under state jurisdiction).  Greenville Mall was on SC 146.  Perhaps those fortunes would have been reversed if Greenville Mall had been better planned.

Instead of side window skylights, the newer Dillard's wing is very 90's with its vaulted skylights down the center.

In this court here, the center opening is round with a pointed dome skylight overhead.  Dillard's is straight ahead and a second Belk mall entrance is to the right.

Everything has a point, including this round dome skylight overlooking the circular overlook in the last photo.

Off of the same said court, Belk Simpson comes into view.  Panera Bread is to the left on the upper level.

Dillard's mall entrance also features a circular area with dual escalators and an outside entrance corridor off to the side.

Of course, the spirit of competition proves to not always go as predicted.   Sometimes the oldest malls emerge the winner, and sometimes the malls nobody would expect become dominant.  It was strange enough how this mall opened with a Rich's.  Rich's was a standard in Atlanta and well-known, but its expansion into South Carolina and Alabama in the 70's and 80's were a bit odd and a strain on the storied store.  Rich's only opened at two malls in South Carolina, and today those are likewise the only Macy's locations in the state.  Belk, however, seems to be dominant at most major malls in South Carolina...almost by default.  The fact that it is the best looking and most fun mall is undeniable as well.  The wood-trimmed ceiling and well-coordinated paint and fixtures give the mall a very rich, elegant appearance.  Though it is stripped today of fountains and planters, I am sure those were likely just as nice back in the 80's.  The exterior mall entrance signs are also quite showy with significant mountain chalet aspects.  I guess the "wood" in the name Haywood must have been some of the logic in doing that.

JCPenney's mall entrance, which is identical to the one at Georgia Square Mall, though it seems the lights have been removed around the frame of the entrance.  No other malls in Greenville had a JCPenney.

Belk Simpson at the mall is a retro goody.  I thought this picture did not come out, but it passes.  Maybe one day I'll get a good daytime shot.

I was unable to get the Sears sign photographed (boring modern one), but I got a pic of this wild entrance treatment.  What drug was the person taking that designed that that made them think this looked good?

Macy's, formerly Rich's.  This picture did not turn out very well, but it pretty much sums it up.  It is the most bunker-like of all the anchors.

In all, Greenville has proved to be quite a hot city.  While not a very large city, it graces the center of a large mid-Atlantic style metroplex that stretches continuously from Anderson to Spartanburg, and this mall is at the core of it.  Greenville's core is trendy, upscale and unique with a large waterfall forming a distinctive park in the center of the city.  Overall, though I was actually quite surprised to see how suburbanized this whole area was.  It was quite amazing following the continuous succession of strip malls, subdivisions and restaurants along US 123 leading into the city.  When considering that, it is understandable that the market is a bit tight there.  The other malls had to compete with both Anderson Mall and Westgate Mall.  Haywood does as well, but its dominance is not likely to wane any time soon.  While my camera did not cooperate for every angle of the mall, these photos show most of the highlights of a substantial mall.  I hope my second South Carolina mall entry does it justice, because I was pleasantly surprised by it.  South Carolina deserves more malls like this one.

This shot turned out to be a blurry mess, but the mall entrances are quite elaborate.  Ruby Tuesday is just inside the door there, and this is not as fancy as the entrance at the food court.  I imagine the original entrance was far more simple.

My sole shot from the lower level.  The wooden floors in the center were a nice touch.

A view from the top floor looking onto the bottom floor.

*Correction on the original post.  There are three, not two multilevel malls in South Carolina


  1. Good looking mall, but the Sears and Belk Simpson exterior designs defy explanation...

  2. When you say Richland Mall, are you referring to the mall at I-20 and Two Notch Road, or the mall inside Columbia that is the epitome of a mall on life support?

  3. The latter, now known as something else. I'm a bit surprised it's still operational at all. It looks like it was a neat mall in a very dumb location. The other actually looks to be in a bit of trouble itself. You'd think Columbians would prefer two level malls, but I'm sure there's something else involved. Of course, a mall in a town the size of Columbia aiming to be Phipps/Lenox is a biiiiig stretch...I am guessing LJ Hooker did that job judging by the Bonwit Teller that was once there.

  4. I need to make a MAJOR correction...that was a serious oversight. There are THREE two level malls in SC, and I for some reason just blocked out Columbia Place Mall as a two level mall. Note the correction in the post.

  5. Great to see Haywood continue to evolve into a super-solid mall. Apple just officially announced they are opening in Haywood in late summer this year (2010). Add Apple to the already existing Pottery Barn, Aveda, J.Crew, Aldo, Brookstone, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aerie, Ann Taylor, Coach, Williams Sonoma, Godiva, Bare Escentuals, Coldwater Creek, Guess, Build A Bear, Hollister, Tea Junction, Panera, Banana Republic, etc, etc and Haywood is a solid mall.

  6. J.T. Haywood Mall is the largest in the state, not second. 1,250,000 square feet. :)

  7. Just a correction, Westgate is nowhere near the largest mall in the state. Haywood is 1st, Coastal Grand is 2nd, and so on. I believe Westgate is 4th or 5th.

  8. If you walk this whole mall you certainly better have comfortable shoes on because its huge. We LOVE their food court.

  9. It wasn't until the 2005 renovation (thankfully RIGHT as Greenville Mall bit the dust) that this mall actually looked nice. Prior to the renovation it was absolutely hideous inside with ugly harsh lighting, mismatched colors, and a really ratty food court.

  10. I agree with the post right above.

    When the mall opened, the interior was varying shades of brown (brownish tile, even), and fountains and the like, with Center Court submerged below the main floor level of the mall. In '90 it was remodeled such that the upper level had grayish carpeting with various colors in it, and there were blue/purple designs painted on the space separating the two levels; the lower level was tile.

    Finally the mall's interior is attractive, but the exterior, apart from the Dillard's wing, has not changed much at all since 1980. I'd think that Simon must use this mall as a cash cow and doesn't have to renovate and update as much as it should, since there's no mall competition in town.

    1. Haywood Mall is a Simon cookie cutter mall.

  11. When I was 11 years old my mom took my brother and I to the grand opening of the Haywood Mall. At that time they had the "Haywood Mall Dancers" and as part of the grand opening Gene Kelly was a guest. In other visits I can remember the performers performing in the center of the mall, but I believe that ended after a year or two. You are correct about the fountains. There was quite an impressive waterfall and fountain display on the lower level center of the mall, which also included a stage for performances.

  12. Haywood is definitely the shining star of the Palmetto State as far as I can tell. I've been up to Greenville twice now since moving to Columbia and was pleasantly surprised by my visit to Haywood. For some odd reason it reminded me of Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem NC (obviously without the walkthrough JCPenny!) perhaps because its a large two level mall and well Belk does have two entrances. The anchor line-up can't be beat for sure.

    As for the largest malls in SC, I did a quick check and found that these are the five largest malls in the state:

    1. Haywood Mall-Greenville
    2. Coastal Grand Mall-Myrtle Beach
    3. Citadel Mall-Charleston
    4. Columbia Place Mall-Columbia
    5. Westgate Mall-Spartanburg

    Well, I've been to at least two of the five unless driving past Westgate counts as three ;)

  13. Haywood Mall's Belk has the new logo up. Unfortunately the new logo is kinda plain and cheap looking, made worse they simply hung up hideously cheap banners up. Here's a link to the the picture I snapped with my cell phone:

    Yikes. The nearby standalone store in Simpsonville hasn't done the same...yet.

  14. Well the good news is that the banners on the mall entrance or temporary. The only thing that makes up for the new logo is that the blue flower is kind of striking, but I sure hated to see the classic logo go.

  15. Yeah I think in some places new fluorescent signs have been put up already in some locales. The logo actually reminds me a lot of the Bebe stores logo. I don't particularly care for their new slogan either "Modern Southern Style" especially as Belk creeps into the North(Maryland) and West (Texas, Oklahoma). Pardon me saying this, but "Modern Southern Style" sounds more like an old white person's store that something that appeals to younger and multiracial demographics. We shall see how this plays out.

  16. The thing I remember the most about Haywood Mall's grand opening was the live appearance by Shawn Weatherly who was the newly crowned Miss Universe 1980. Shawn was all over the news that summer because she is from Sumter, South Carolina. She had gone from being Miss South Carolina USA to Miss USA as well as winning Miss Universe.

  17. This mall is still going strong, even as a lot of retail has left the surrounding area for Woodruff Road near the junction of 385 and 85.

    The city is working to keep this area up to snuff and not let it fail though (it is in city limits... city limits start an exit up near Roper Mountain). They have announced that this area will be the pretentiously named "Uptown" (versus the actual downtown). They are planning to bury power lines, put up mast arms for lights, add landscaping, create wider sidewalks and stricter zoning for this street.

    Other updates:
    A big chunk of land where Congaree meets Woods Crossing across from Steak and Shake (an abandoned restaurant is there) is planned to have a new shopping center area with offices and a dozen apartments put in.

    The old Circuit City shopping center and Toys R Us is supposed to be redeveloped with a TJ Maxxx, Off Broadway and other stores.

    The land in front of the Flour building (at the junction of Woods Crossing and Old Airport) is supposed to have a small town center built with a few stores and offices.

    The city also included on the master plan for the front of the mall facing Haywood Road to add an addition that would incorporate a walkable shopping district (think little row of stores similar to town center) to help up the walkablity of the neighborhood.

    They are trying very hard that this area does not turn out like ever other has been shopping road with rows of abandoned shopping centers. There is already a lot of apartments near by and a few complexes completed or under construction off Woodruff Road that this could actually have some density.

    Sorry for the long post. Love the site.

  18. Forgot to mention the HUGE new development called Verdae located between Woodruff and Laurens Roads and 85. Hopefully this area won't fade into the past.

  19. BAD NEWS Tragically Panera took over the Ruby Tuesday and became a toy store and now it is a kitchen place

  20. Bye Bye A&F Payless

  21. Anyone remember when our malls had video game places? Aladdin's Castle was a great hangout in the 70's back when pinball was king

  22. Haywood was dominant since its opening in 1980 because it was the biggest mall (4 anchors, 2 levels). McAlister was a fine mall but only about 1/2 the size of Haywood. Greenville Mall was small and dumpy, and then when it was renovated and turned into an upscale mall, Haywood was expanded at the same time, so Greenville Mall never was able to thrive because it was always in the shadow of Haywood since very quickly after Greenville Mall opened. Haywood was also closer to middle-class residential areas than Greenville Mall was.