Friday, December 31, 2010

Remembering Bellevue Center Mall: Nashville, TN

It will be awhile before I cover anything in Nashville, but for right now I thought I would highlight a sad chapter in the Nashville area's retail history with Bellevue Center Mall.  Bellevue Center opened in 1990 hoping to bring a new upscale suburban mall to the western edge of the city, but apparently the mall faltered due to lack of growth in the region combined with the explosion of mall competition across the city: most notably the expansion of Mall at Green Hills.  It was a sad chapter with the mall only lasting a mere 18 years once carrying Castner-Knott and Dillard's with room for more.  Closing on May 31, 2008 for re-development that has so far been stalled, these awesome videos give a glimpse of this reasonable attractive, but cursed mall.


Welcome to the mall!! Actually, we take that back...go to Sears or get out.


It reminds me of a country song that goes "The lights are on, but nobody's home".  Except, the lights aren't on and you ain't home.  So go home.


These brave urban explorers search the mysterious second level hoping to find clues on how this place met a bad end.


Guy rides a bike through the mall...it's that dead.  I dare him to try that at the Cool Springs Galleria.  C'mon, it will be fun!

Still can't get enough of this place?  Continue to TheDarkKnight1983's YouTube page for 5 more videos.  As a former tenant in the mall, he tells the story best.

16 comments:

  1. Great feature. Bellevue Center died around 2003, or about the time I moved out of Nashville. In 1999 it had a pretty decent array of "middle class" stores (Gap, Express, Nine West, Disney, etc). An Old Navy and Sears had recently opened, and the future of the mall seemed pretty bright. However, the crowds just never developed for this mall. When it was built, it was built as a pretty high-class mall with a lot of unique stores to the region. The idea was that the area surrounding the mall would grow and the more affluent areas of Nashville would gravitate toward the mall. The growth never materialized, and the mall languished. Cool Springs and Mall at Green Hills were better located to the affluent residents, and hence became the dominant malls. It is sad what happened to Bellevue, I used to spend a lot of time there. They had a great Chic-fil-A

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was one of those malls that never should have been built. It was obvious in 1990 when I lived in Nashville that too much retail was coming on line in the areas S of the city and that this mall probably wouldn't last. They may have been counting on Green Hills (an older mall built on a foundation of a strip center) to falter in the face of the larger Cool Springs Mall that opened a bit further out. Instead, Cool Springs (which is much bigger) has become regionally dominant and Green Hills has kept its niche fairly well. The location for Bellevue was weak in relation to the interstate system and the area was unlikely to be a focus for big growth. Williamson County was laready getting the new development and the affluent intown areas are close to Green Hills.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I went in that mall quite a few times and have a lot of memories from it from the 1991-1993 time period. Things seemed to take a tumble around 1993. One thing I never liked about the mall is it never had a very good food court, which puzzled me. The selection wasn't nearly as great as other mall food courts. I'd say that 1991 was probably the peak year for this mall. Things were already starting to change a slight bit in 1993. I remember the talk of a Macy's which never materialized but in the long run after all the department stores bought each other, it would have just resulted in a vacant anchor. The first time I saw a very serious, sudden decline in the mall was in early 2002. It seemed as if overnight, the entire upper level quarter of the mall on the Dillard's end was empty. The lower level on the end where the Castner-Knott anchor that kept changing was seemed to do well. At one point, when Old Navy went in there, I thought the mall would pick back up, but it never did.

    The main reasons I didn't go to Bellevue as often as other malls were due to the stores being smaller than the equivalent ones at other malls and not having as good a selection.

    My best memory of this mall was the Friday, November 25, before Halloween 1991 when I hung out with a guy named Greg who worked at U.S. Male then. That store didn't last very long (closed a couple years later I think?). I was in the mall on Halloween 1991 and many stores were giving out candy to kids and a lot of people were in there.

    The mall, on the lower level near Dillards, had the first Suncoast movie store I'd ever seen, and it was connected to the Sam Goody (or Musicland - which was it? same company) there. Those stores eventually went out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved this mall when it first opened! It was the only mall in Nashville that had an Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Williams Sonoma, American Eagle, and Childrens Place. There are a few reasons that this mall didn't succeed...1) the people who live in Bellevue don't shop in that area. Green Hills is a very affluent part of Nashville, and many people from Bellevue are Green HIlls wannnabees. I worked in Bellevue Center for quite a while and can honestly say that some days the stores I worked at did more returns than sales because most of the people who live in Bellevue would go to Green Hills or Coolsprings and spend hundreds of dollars, and then return it to Bellevue. When you would ask them why they were doing this, most would say, "oh I'm embarassed to return anything to Green HIlls or Coolsprings, I just use Bellevue to do all my returns and exchanges." 2) Shoplifting was out of control in this mall. Shoplifters figured out early on that this mall was slow and most stores didn't have a lot of employees working. I remember every week hearing the managers from Limited, Express, Banana Republic, Gap, Childrens Place, and Victoria's Secret talking about how entire tables of merchandise disappeared. Lots of stores decided that it was just not profitable to have a location at Bellevue since it was so slow and some days you were losing more merchandise to shoplifters than you were selling to customers. 3) Bad mall management seemed to plague Bellevue from the beginning. Whenever a store would close, it seemed like no effort was made to replace it.

    I was in the mall when everything was closing in January/February of 2008. Dillards was already gone. American Eagle had closed on Christmas Eve of 2007. Deb, Childrens Place, Claire's, Sunglass Hut, Radio Shack, and Littman Jewelers were all having "Store Closing" sales. In May of 2008, everything inside the mall finally closed. I think all that was left were Shoe Department, Kay Jewelers, LensCrafters, and a few of the local businesses that had moved into some of the empty storefronts. Macy's and Sears stopped opening their mall entrances at this time. In January 2009, Macy's announced they were closing the Bellevue store. Now, Sears is all that remains. I don't know how they stay open considering the store is on the back of the mall.

    Supposedly the redevelopment of Bellevue Center is going to start this year, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The residents of Bellevue are just strange to me. When I worked in Bellevue Center most of them only used the mall to return items or shop for super cheap sale stuff, but when a store would close they seemed so puzzled as to why everything was closing in their mall. I remember a few weeks after Banana Republic closed a lady walked into American Eagle with a huge shopping bag and she asked me what happened to Banana Republic. I told her that they closed about a month ago. I got the typical "huff and eye roll", and had to listen to her go on and on about how inconvenient it is to have to drive to Green Hills to return these items. I asked her where she had purchased them, and she replied "Green HIlls". I then told her that maybe if people would shop at this mall instead of just use it as a return center some stores might actually stay open. I really can't ever imagine Bellevue Center being a major shopping destination again since it is so close to the new Nashville West lifestyle center, and I don't know what stores Bellevue could offer that would be different than Nashivlle West (this development already has Target, Best Buy, Dick's, Ross's, Marshalls, World Market, Books a Million, DSW, Party City, Staples, Costco, Claire's, New York and Company, Lane Bryant, Justice, Bath and Body Works, Old Navy, and numerous restaurants)

    ReplyDelete
  5. (to the comment above from January 6)

    Macy's never came to Bellevue Center...They had that facade on the wall but it never opened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes they do, i found this out the hard way....

      Delete
  6. JT, I think you should start covering Nashville retail when Opry Mills reopens next spring.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That mall failed because a lot of the stores that first came in were too upscale for the demographic. So...no one shopped them. As a result, those stores left and everyone complained that there were no "good" stores in the center. So...no one shopped there. It was one massive catch 22 until the end. The people of Bellevue didn't shop them, then they bitched that there were no good stores in the center - but you can't bring in stores if no one is shopping in the place. Large retailers do studies to determine in which areas they want to put their stores. It wasn't the owner of Bellevue Center, it wasn't the management staff, it wasn't the tenants that you see occupying EVERY OTHER mall in the known universe...It was the people of Bellevue who brought about the demise of Bellevue Center. Simple as that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remember being asked for suggestions on how to save the Bellevue Mall. This was while they were still open. My idea was to have retail downstairs-Only and to lease the upstairs for office space. They politely declined my suggestion. A few years later 100-oaks Mall used this business model and is thriving, today.

    ReplyDelete
  9. For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure there was a Macy's in the mall in its dying days. The store there was converted when Hecht's was purchased by Macy's parent company.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Allen is correct. Macy's did open there eventually for a few years near the Mall's end.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wonder if they still have security guards in it now? They must have to maintain the grounds that must cost a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sears is closing Aug.2015.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No surprise there. I have fond memories shopping at the mall when I lived in Knoxville and would travel to a Waverly, small town west of Nashville. I plan to visit that Sears store before they close to see about any deals. I will be sad to see the mall go, but hope the re-development plans bring much needed growth to Bellevue.

      Delete
  13. It was a sad chapter with the mall only lasting a mere 18 years once carrying Castner-Knott and Dillard's with room for more. retail security guards

    ReplyDelete