Sunday, January 1, 2012

Regency Mall (Part 1): Augusta, GA

Before I started this site, I was a contributor to the site Deadmalls.com.  A few of my posts are still found on that site today.  At the time, I was definitely part of the cult following of the long abandoned Dixie Square Mall in suburban Chicago discovered by Ross Schendel of Labelscar.  My enthusiasm got me to start noticing other dead malls outside of my area.  In August 2003, I was leaving Savannah taking the long way home through Augusta.  On that trip, I had taken photos of Savannah Mall on that trip thinking that mall would eventually be boarded up soon after losing three of its four anchors in a short time span, which I found later to be untrue.  Driving through Augusta, I was simply exploring the city going west of downtown on Gordon Highway (US 1).  I was certainly not expecting anything since I had never really explored Augusta much off of I-20.  There on a hill was a Montgomery Ward sign and an obviously abandoned mall.  I did not hesitate to pull in the parking lot and snap 9 pictures on my old and now retired film camera.


Needless to say, I was absolutely stunned.  This is the first time I had ever seen not just a mall, but a very large one completely abandoned.  Its gradually mildewing white paint made it a true-to-form white elephant, a big giant failed concrete chunk of retail history.  It was obvious not only was the mall abandoned, but that it was completely trapped in the 70's.  The sign along the road was plain and very dated.  The mall still looked to be in good condition, but was relatively recently boarded up all the way around.  I would find out the mall had only been closed about a year, but I did not know this upon my first encounter with the then-mysterious Regency Mall. 

A four-screen theater operating in the mall was later replaced with this 8 screen on the southwest side of the mall.  Photo by KJ.  The first photo is of the east court in the mall with the wing leading to an empty anchor pad and outside entrance.  Photo by BT.

Burnt orange tiles flank the exterior entrances of Montgomery Ward similar to the now-demolished Carolina Circle Mall in Greensboro, NC.  This store, however, is a more basic design with the tiles really showing up against the white building.  Photo by KJ.

Corner notch with more tile.  Photo by KJ.

East Wards entrance sitting in better lighting.  Photo by KJ.

Another entrance than a view of the Auto Center, which is attached to the store itself.  Photo by KJ.


Upper and lower level Belk Howard entrances look barren since the dark glass that flaked both sides has been completely removed.  Apparently the vandalism coupled with risk of falling panels was too great to keep them intact.  As older photos attest, they were striking.  Photos by KJ.

Cullum's stands out as the anchor with the most unique entrance designs.  It also was the only anchor to change hands later operating as Meyers-Arnold and finally Upton's before closing for good in 1993.  Photo by KJ.

For a store with one of the best logos, JB White had some of the plainest stores.  They corrected this by building a beautiful store at Augusta Mall.  Unfortunately, that meant they left this store and the mall for dead.

Upper-level entrance to JB White.  Photo by KJ.

Detail of street light in parking lot.  Photo by KJ.

The mention of the mall on Deadmalls.com definitely started a mini-phenomenon not unlike Dixie Square except for one thing: few photos existed of the mall and it seemed nobody could get inside to show the world what it really looked like.  It should also be noted that unlike Dixie Square, this mall is actually in "Dixie".  Thanks to the efforts of a few brave souls, the dearth of interior photos has now changed.  This was a mall with so much promise and hope, but its poor planning would ultimately be the death of it.  It was the first ever mall in Augusta and it would also be the first to die.  It has sat rotting ever since with almost a decade passing since it was abandoned.  The people want it used for something, but the people with the money to do something about it are uninterested.  The city just wants it sitting in a landfill out of sight and out of mind.  The local newspaper will not stop talking about it.  Like it or not, this prominent Fall Line feature stands out in more ways than one.


One of the coolest things left around the mall are these panels next to the garage doors used for trucks to deliver goods to mall tenants.  These list all the stores in the mall clearly when the mall was still in its prime.  These signs are clearly no older than the early 90's considering the mall largely emptied out in the late 90's.  Photos above by BT.

Mall entrances were plain and numbered all around the mall.  Mall entrance 3 is the empty anchor pad that was once planned for JCPenney.  Photo by BT.

The red Cinema sign has now faded out.  Next to it is one of the mall entrances into the Montgomery Ward wing.  Photo by BT.

Another view of the Cinema I-II-III run by General Cinemas.  Photo by KJ.

Lower-level mall entrance to the right of Cullum's.  Photo by KJ.

Another view of Belk Howard shows a parking lot of full of weed-filled cracks.  As time marches on eventually trees will start growing in these cracks as well.  Photo by KJ.

Overview of Wards to Cullum's.  Photo by KJ.

The Regency Mall nameplate has been replaced with a phone number.  "Yes, this is City of Augusta.  We'd like to buy your mall for way below market value.  No sir, that offer is too high.  Okay, well then we'll just condemn you then.  Like it or not bulldozers headed there tomorrow." *CLICK*   It's a definite minority that like the fact that all of this is still here and they definitely are not on the city council.

This remains a popular outside view because it captures a very 70's era of signage for the once venerable retailer that now only exists as an online store.  Photo by BT.

Just in case you didn't get enough orange tile, here's the north entrance.  It's definitely colorfast.  Photo by BT.

It should be kept in mind that Augusta is Georgia's second largest city and once the state's capitol.  While overshadowed by latecomer Atlanta to the west, it is a city with signficant history and a population that should have been able to support two malls, but as events unfolded that plan ultimately failed.  The story of Augusta's "other" mall has become well-known, so this post is essentially my summary of it.  The mall was the only mall in Georgia built by DeBartolo opening on July 27, 1978 in what was at the time paraded as the largest mall in the state.  If so, it was only a hair larger than Cumberland Mall in Atlanta.  It was Augusta's first mall for about a week.  One week later and seven miles away in almost the same side of town, Augusta Mall also opened.  Regency catered to more of a regional market while Augusta Mall was more of a showcase of big city names.  Regency's first anchors were Montgomery Ward, JB White, Belk Howard (Howard was unsigned) and junior anchor Cullum'sRuben's, another Augusta department store institution, opened in the mall as well in a large inline tenant near the Belk.  A three-screen cinema also flanked the mall as well.  Cullum's was not completed in time for the mall's opening, and Belk did not open until the following year.  It was a very large mall for a relatively small city featuring two levels; a simple, spacious and modern design and a distinctive Y-shaped layout.

Regency Mall road sign from August 2003.

Wards was not completely boarded up at this point, and it still looked fresh and clean vs. the moldy exterior of today.  Photo taken August 2003.

Cullum's exterior glass was still partially visible in August 2003.  However, the store had already been vacant 10 years when this photo was taken.

Belk Howard when the store had dark glass panels.  I guess these were removed due to the enormous safety hazard of falling glass.  They were striking, but very spooky after the store was closed.  Photo from August 2003.

Belk upper level entrance with dark/bronze glass.  Note the fresh boards on the doors.  Photo from August 2003.

The theater sign was obviously not nearly as worn when this photo was taken but the parking lot clearly had not been seeing much traffic even before the mall closed.  Photo from August 2003.


Back inside, we see the detail of a long unused fountain.  Needless to say, the mall would look far more glamorous with it running, but it seems most mall owners today just want to remove them.  If this mall had been renovated, the blandness probably would have driven customers off alone.  Photo by KJ.

A small stage in the middle part of the Wards wing.  Photo by KJ.

A wall mural decorates what would would have been a blank wall marking the anchor pad for a never-built fifth anchor on the back side of the mall.  JCPenney once considered the site but changed their mind opting for Augusta Mall instead in 1979.  The lower level functioned as an exterior entrance.  Photo by KJ.

Looking back toward the mall.  Note the terrazzo floor tiles.  Photo by KJ.

Here we see a computer store that is just sooooooo 1995.  Photo by KJ.

A typical problem with DeBartolo malls were their tendency to draw second tier anchors.  Sears decided to stay downtown during that time since they were not going to share a mall with Montgomery Ward.  JCPenney did, however, plan to locate at the mall, but they pulled out of the project opening instead at Augusta Mall in 1979.  Davison's, the Atlanta-managed division of Macy's which had been downtown for years, shunned the mall for Augusta Mall as well.  Ever-popular Rich's decided to put their first Augusta store at Augusta Mall also meaning three of the most popular stores in the state took a pass at joining the center.  The mall, however, scored Augusta-based White's, which remained a very popular store and a singular draw to the mall.  The mall was set up for fierce competition, and its honeymoon would only last about 7 years.


The quintessential Lerner New York was included among the lost anchor tenants, now known as New York & Company.  Photos by KJ.

The overhead skylights were among some of the least attractive I have seen, but they were at least distinctive vs. the usual glass dome or pyramid.  Photo by KJ.

View from the second level.  It's always Christmas at Regency Mall just as it has been since 2001, so let's deck the malls with moldy banners.  Photo by KJ.

Along a mall entrance wing is this mysterious and spooky looking store.  I pondered whether this was the former Ruben's location that closed early in the mall's history.  Photo by KJ.

More detail is visible here of the store entrance that definitely appears more like a junior anchor than regular inline tenant.  Photo by KJ.

Here we find a mall directory on its side.  Unlike the kids that got in one night in 2007, the mall directories have been smashed and trashed so that no map of the mall is available inside any longer.  Photo by KJ.

While it may have been bright and sunny outside, it is darker than midnight in what appears to be Mall Exit 7.  Photo by KJ.

Former food service establishment.  Photo by KJ.

The Belk wing was the darkest part of the main mall keeping these escalators in darkness.  Photo by KJ.

Another unknown store looking subtly funky.  Photo by KJ.

DeBartolo seemed to be a poor planner when it came to malls, and they likewise were a poor manager.  The decision to put a mall in blue collar South Augusta so close to its main competition was a boneheaded decision as well as what seemed to be a lack of interest in adequate security.  In addition, the mall was not placed near any freeway or interstate.  Augusta Mall, however, was next to Bobby Jones Expressway, which later became I-520, only a couple exits down from I-20.  Several DeBartolo malls in Florida failed miserably due to terrible locations, and one of Regency Mall's sister malls in Ohio recently was boarded up as well due to its less than stellar location.  If they had put Regency instead in North Augusta closer to I-20, the mall would likely not only be open, but would be doing extremely well.  Instead of Regency, this post would be probably about Augusta Mall and how it was struggling.  Both malls have suffered from similar problems, but Augusta Mall started with stronger anchors closer to the money: part of why it is still alive and thriving today.

Unknown storefront.  Photo by KJ.

While most of the mall is level, the mall right in front of JB White has a sloped section on the lower level.  Photo by KJ.

More detail of the sloped area.  It's hard not to like those completely retro brown linoleum tiles.  Photo by KJ.

More empty storefronts on the lower level next to White's.  Photo by KJ.

A very dark entrance wing emerges on the lower level.  Photo by KJ.

View of the Belk court.  Photo by KJ.

View of Wards court from lower level, which looks nearly identical to the photo above.  Photo by KJ.

Back in center court, the up escalators along the Belk wing are barely visible.  Note the mall's red and brown carriage logo on the wall above.  This is found in several locations in the mall.  Photo by KJ.

Looking up at the ceiling with the "street lights" in view.  Photo by KJ.


Lower level fountain at eye level.  Photo by KJ.

Somewhere in the mall, the photographer found some of the plans associated with the Belk store.  These should be rescued and placed in a museum somewhere.  Photo by KJ.

More so than location, though, Regency Mall's problems had much to do with lax security.  The problems of shrinkage from shoplifting dogged the mall from the day it opened causing the loss of both junior anchors early on.  Ruben's pulled out in 1982 and ultra-upscale Cullum's, laced with debt from building its largest suburban store in the mall, completely failed the same year.  Things got worse when in March 1986, a 16 year-old girl was abducted from the mall parking lot, raped and murdered with her body turning up a few weeks later outside of the city in the nearby town of Hephzibah.  Another incident in 1989 involving an 18-year old girl being shot in the back in a carjacking and paralyzed led to the family of the victim suing DeBartolo over security issues.  Clearly these were not a small issue for such a large mall.  These incidents cast a dark shadow on the mall giving it a fatally negative perception.  Its location was a problem, crime was becoming rampant in the declining neighborhood and the only thing keeping it from dying then was its anchors, and that, too, was changing quickly.

On Sale! On Sale! On Sale!  "Oh, I'm sorry we sold out of pretty much everything but check back tomorrow!"  Photo by KJ.


Treasure's?  I'd like to speak with Mr. Treasure, please.  Yeah, I want to tell him one city's trash is a retail geek's treasure.  Photo by KJ.

They couldn't compete with Mail Boxes, Etc.  That's just the fax.  Photo by KJ.

I'm sure GNC was here until the very end.  Apparently selling vitamins and creatine for meat heads is an activity not dependent on living, breathing customers, but they alone cannot keep the lights on in an 800,000 square ft mall.  Photo by KJ.

Offices, elevator and telephone.  Yes, the days when telephones were something you went to: not something you carried in your pocket.  Photo by KJ.

T-shirts Plus.  One of about a dozen inline tenants that left their signs up after closing.  This store is located right outside of Montgomery Ward.

Claire's Boutiques also had a location in the mall.  I do not recall ever seeing a sign in this style.  Photo by KJ.


Foot Locker was one of the very last stores to close and clearly received an updated look at some point.  Photo by KJ.

Oh?  Photo by KJ.

This store was clearly a latecomer.  It at least looks late 80's, but I am not sure what it was.  Photo by KJ.

Regency Mall's failure to attract Davison's, Sears and JCPenney definitely did not help the mall.  With all three anchors ending up at Augusta Mall and Montgomery Ward beginning to fail as a company, the early 90's were proving that having the top anchors in a market does matter.  Cullum's failure left a vacancy within 5 years of opening, and Greenville-based Meyers-Arnold would take over the store in 1984, but was downscale compared to Cullum's.  Upton's then bought out Meyers-Arnold in 1987 making it the last tenant to be in that location.  Upton's proved to be the canary in the proverbial coal mine when the store closed in 1993.  The mall would quickly decline from there.


These two photos show what appears to be the only staircase in the mall.  It is located on the Wards wing very close to Cullum's.  Photos by KJ.


Bottom of the very brown staircase.  Photo by KJ.

Old mall directory smashed in as if smashing in an old mall directory makes you so tough.  Photo by KJ.

Unknown restaurant.  Photo by KJ.

Empty store front next to "GQ" in a Star Trek-inspired doorway.  It sort of resembles an old arcade.  Photo by KJ.

Lower level "Anchor 5" court.  Was this mall entrance sealed off sooner?  Photo by KJ.

More lower-level detail.  Photo by KJ.

This extremely well-preserved store front beckons to a time when wearing a watch was still pretty fashionable.  It is located to the left of Cullum's.  Photo by KJ.

Street lights again.  Photo by KJ.

One more shot of the lower level of Wards court.  While parts of this mall are certainly dark it does surprisingly well with mid-day natural lighting.  Photo by KJ.

Belk, which had previously converted to an outlet a few years prior, closed at the mall in 1996.  The theaters on the south side of the mall left the same year.  By then, JB White had already planned to tack on to Augusta Mall with a newer, far more elegant store.  This new store was completed in 1998 leaving the brutalist brick structure behind that itself had resulted in the closure of the original downtown flagship White's.  The new store would be the very last JB White location built, and the Regency Mall location closed at the same time.  As the dust settled from the mass exodus troubled Montgomery Ward found itself the last anchor standing.  This turn of events left the mall in the death throes.  Over 20 years old, the mall had never received a renovation, and stores that closed at the mall were not replaced by chains but by mom 'n' pop shops and non-retail operations.  Even with that, there were not many of those.  Stores like Foot Locker would be the last to close, but the mall itself held little attraction with Montgomery Ward shutting off its mall entrance to save electricity, suggesting the air conditioning was no longer being used in the mall itself.  Even the escalators were shut off by this time.  As a result, the mall would gradually pare down to four stores.

Upper level Wards court.  Photo by BT.

View of down escalators in the Wards wing.  This part of the mall is very dark, and holes in the ceiling are visible next to the escalators.  Photo by BT.


A couple views of the escalator along the Wards wing.  Photos by BT.

Between Wards and Whites on the north side, the overhang and skylights give a very futuristic effect.  It is one of the most attractive design features in the mall.  Photo by BT.

An overview of the "Anchor 5" wing from the main mall/Wards wing.  Note the carriage and the Christmas decorations.  Photo by BT.

Gimme three steps, mister, and you'll never see me no more.  A view of the staircase from the top level.  Photo by BT.

Lerner is located near the "Anchor 5" wing.  Photo by BT.

Detail of the skylights and how they connect to the north side of the mall.  Photo by BT.

One of the very appealing aspects of Regency Mall is the presence of many angles and turns throughout the mall.  It is not a boring straight-shot by any means.  Photo by BT.

Another view of the one staircase.  Photo by BT.

The end finally came when Montgomery Ward liquidated in 2001.  While the store at the mall would last to the end, the closing was the final nail in the coffin for Regency.  Soon after, the remaining tenants were kicked out and the mall boarded up at the beginning of 2002.  Only a county marshal's station would continue to operate in the mall, finally leaving this past summer.  While the mall's "slumlords" Hayword Whichard and Paul Woo are blamed for the mall's demise, the real blame rests on the poor management and decisions of its original owners DeBartolo who owned the mall up to 1995.  Equitable Real Estate also owned the mall from 1995-1997 before selling it to Whichard and Woo.  The mall most recently was purchased by Cardinale Entities in 2002 who planned to market the mall, but failure to attract an investor led to them keeping the property in disuse resulting in heated disputes with the city about the condition of the mall.  As these photos show, the mall is in mostly good condition despite problem areas.  Proposals ranging from an outlet mall to county offices to an entertainment center were pursued, but nothing ever materialized.  Most recently, a church hoped to purchase the entire mall, but plans are still uncertain.

Escalators rise to the occasion (and the upper level of the Belk wing).  Photo by BT.

Diagonal wood is everywhere in this mall including this former restaurant outside of JB White.  Photo by BT.

A skylight overlooks the short JB White wing.  Photo by BT.


More skylights!  Photo by BT.

Looking back towards Wards.  Note the north side of the hall.  Photo by BT.

Another view of the "Anchor 5" pad.  Note the lone tree on the lower left.  This tree has to be fake to have lasted that long.  Photo by BT.

"Regency Mall" logo walling over a vacant store with the carriage in the background on the wall.  Photo by BT.

Since the mall's closure, Regency Mall has been a point of contention within the city.  The city has tirelessly sought ways to recycle or demolish the structure.  A referendum was held to borrow $8 million to demolish the mall, but it too failed.  A proposal to condemn the property and turn it into a city reservoir was also considered.  No matter what the plans, the mall is already a 21st century Dixie Square with big plans that always fall through, ambitious government initiatives that fall flat and an abandoned building that will ultimately decay beyond salvation if a realistic plan does not materialize within the next 5-10 years.  For now, Regency Mall remains one of America's most visible symbols of the decline of the all-American shopping mall.

75 comments:

  1. Wow, the discovery of these photos is a huge find. I wish I was able to get some photos like these of some of my favorite malls that are long gone. Great work

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is incredible. Definitely your best find/post yet, I am at the edge of my seat waiting for part two! Amazing job at procuring these photographs. I wish this mall was salvageable and could re-open, such a shame to see it sitting like this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One day it will come alive again-it will be beautiful & a great attraction for the county.
    Never say never. It will bring South Augusta back to life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so. Why not something along the lines of the Mall of American in MN? It could work here.

      Delete
  4. It seems like a beautiful design with a lot of character, despite the ubiquitous white walls...

    I wonder how many similar two-level malls sit abandoned around the US?

    Do the two holes above the escalator mean it rains inside? I wonder what could have caused them.

    A fantastic find at any rate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A recent article mentioned theft of a couple AC units on the roof, so I suspect that possibly these holes may have to do with that if it is not from building decay. Aerial photos show the roof in good shape, but it also shows something amiss on the roof on the Wards wing. Lots of water is getting into the mall on the Wards wing according to my sources. I do agree also it is a beautiful mall, but it could use a bit more color (much like malls today LOL).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazing post J.T. "Creepy" doesn't even begin to describe this place.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A Software Etc. storefront! Wow! It was a B. Dalton spin-off, until Barnes & Noble spun it off, then it merged with Babbage's, and eventually converted to GameStop. Except this one...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually managed the Software Etc. in 1990!!

      Delete
  8. Does anyone know if the burnt orange tiles were used at any other Montgomery Ward stores beside Regency and Carolina Circle?

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a great post and I have waited a very long time for it to get on your site. I live in North Augusta and spent alot of time at Regency Mall as a child. I remember going to the movie theater behind the mall as well. It is awesome to see so many cool pics of the interior of the mall. From what I can tell the mall seems to be in pretty good shape considering that it just sits there. Maybe some developer will see your site and want to do something with the old mall. I really do hope that something becomes of it. Many people will still tell you that at one point Regency was the best mall in town. The reasons you mentioned in your article took care of that. When can we expect Part 2!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great pics--but i think you're a littl;e unfair to DeBartolo. The mall is a time capsule of the 70s with earth tones and chunky brutalist features. DeBartolo tended to build unimaginative malls (usually less interesting than this one), but they had no trouble attracting major anchors although not always the most upscale. But it seems like they actually did get upscale tenants here as well as plenty of the usual 70s tenants.

    At one point, DeBartolo owned half the malls in Florida (and his son has developed large mixed use projects around Orlando and the West Coast); their obvious failures elsewhere like Century III and Randall Park are balanced by long running winners like Dayton Mall and Great Lakes Mall. This mall is from an era where people thought malls would solve all kinds of development puzzles and chains felt they had to have stores in all of them. That era created a lot of dead malls.

    In some ways, I'm surprised this lasted as long as it did. One thing DeBartolo didn't do was invest in their malls, esp. after non-mall investments and the recession of the late 70s/early 80s made malls less lucrative. That would explain why it is such a time capsule.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm stating the facts about DeBartolo on security. Maybe the mall was too close to the ghetto or what not, but this is confirmed from many sources the enormous troubles that both tenants and victims of crime had with lax security. I actually have no beef with DeBartolo on the lack of updates. Renovations from the 90's onward would have ruined the character of this mall making it truly blocky and bland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked at this mall...I don't think we had a security guard under age 90

      Delete
    2. I worked in several stores at this mall. And getting off after dark was always creepy to me. Hoodlums every where. And this is not a racist statement I am black myself and have lived in augusta since my dad retired her in the early 70's. In my opinion putting a mall in this side of town was like open duck season in a closed barn.

      Delete
  12. Honestly the best thing to do with this place is to raze it and turn it into a Walmart Supercenter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I believe the name of the arcade was the Goldmine Arcade. It would expand into a neighboring empty space before closing leading to the opening of an arcade near the stage area of the mall. This one was bland with no western theme to it; no theme at all really.

      Delete
    2. there's one right up the street already on Deans Bridge.

      Delete
  13. No, anonymous, that is the WORST thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That creepy looking store entrance you mentioned on one of the photos used to be a western style arcade. I am from Augusta and we used to go to this mall all the time when I was younger. I got my first skateboard from this mall. It is a shame that it closed down but crime and gangs are exactly the cause. I am going to see if I could inside and take some pics one of these weekends. if you have any questions you can email me at gary.powell79@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! Thanks for the pics many of which I've never seen before. I have combed the web for years on a regular basis looking for RM pics and I've never seen such a collection before. Definitely have some memories of the mall and it's so sad to see it in such a sad state. Memories include a first date that included a stop at the Gold Mine Arcade, seeing the Cole Beatty Circus there twice, separate boat and car shows in the early 80s, an RV show about the same time period, Smokey and the Bandit in Regecny Cinema 1, Balloons and More, Orange Julius, oil changes at Monkey Wards, Tinder Box and my first every pair of Nikes from Athlete's Foot. Gone but never forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow. This is my first visit to your site and I have to say seeing Regency Mall for the first time in over 13 years is amazing. I was born in 1977 in Augusta, so I spent my childhood and teen years in hanging out with my parents, brother, and friends at Regency Mall. You even have an overhead pic of the "runway" that I modeled on when I was a teen model for JB White! I sent the link of this post to my older brother to see if he could identify some of defunct stores. Anyway thanks so much for the walk down memory lane. I never thought I'd see Regency Mall again. I'm still very sad that no one has bought it and done something useful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great to see these pics, grew up going there and worked there as a teen in the mid 80's, brings back fond memories. Sad to see it go. You mentioned the location, I agree it should have been closer to the interstate but, this area was very populated back in the day, and not just by low income people. Blight is to blame for much of the failure here, that and the lack of security. Really enjoyed the walk down memory lane.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Am I allowed to ask...how did you guys get in Regency Mall? It has been locked up and boarded up since the early 2000's! "Brave souls" indeed! I would have been terrified to go a few feet from that scary mall! It was even scary in that mall in its final years when there were only 5 stores left in it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. As a Southern Bell employee, we put most of the telephone systems in the stores. It was such a rush with two malls opening a week apart. Customers would wait until midnight so we could put their phones in. Lots of work, lots of overtime. It was a beautiful mall in its time but the erosion of the southside caused a lot of their problems. It had city bus service to the mall so anyone could get there to do their shoplifting. A "brother" told me once "Wait till they put bus service to Augusta Mall so we can ruin it too". Such a shame to see it go to waste.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow! I was born 1977 myself, so I have a lot of memories there. Every Saturday it seems like I was there. I remember there was Dinos Pizza on the lower level, then Playland toys next to it. Later years, there was McCormicks next to Wards on the right if you were standing out in front. Under the brick staircase there was a Pole Position game. It was a cheap wood box-like that you sit in. You put your quarter in, and the game started. Not quite arcade quality by any means, but pretty cool at 5 years old. When you walked out of Whites on the bottom floor, to your left was an organ/piano shop that always seemed to be playing. Chick-fi-lay (Did I spell that right?LOL!) was off to the immediate right of the theatres. Upper level had an ice cream shop, and there was a pet store too.In "Oh Calcutta", they would tell you to leave if you asked for brass knuckles, but it was "paper weights" that you were wanting!? Lazier days for sure. It is a shame it's just sitting there. The only downfall is the location. Rougher area now than it ever was. Most of the people who would be the finatial backbone of the store simply wouldn't go because of this, whether they would amit to it or not. A shame for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you so much for taking me for a walk down memory lane by taking these great photos, although it is crazy to see the place I remember as overflowing with shoppers and thriving now so lifeless. I practically grew up in this mall, and countless visits have not escaped my memory.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow..thanks for the walk down memory lane. This area was once a thriving area for disposable income shoppers but sadly nothing was ever done about the lowlifes that came into the area. When people don't feel safe they will not go spend their money. Ride along the area now and it's decline is getting worse. The only thing left in the area is K-Mart and Bi-Lo. A few motels that are havens for drugs and prostitution. It's sad to see how far it has sunk. It Augusta could quit playing politics and do something with the area people would stop flocking the area for safer neighborhoods and better schools. A very nice steak house recently closed and banks and grocery store sites sit vacant. I still have great memories of what once was...

    ReplyDelete
  23. JT, did you ever come across any pictures of the cinema inside the mall? Great work btw, you have done what many of us would love to do.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great pictures. I always remember that overhang and skylights on the north side when I think of Regency Mall, it was so nice to see a picture! As a kid I found that design neat.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks so much for the trek down memory lane! I'm holding back tears to see parts of my childhood just waste away, but good to see that those memories are not forgotten. At the bottom of the staircase, there used to be a play area that was within that small brick wall. There used to be little concrete animals (I remember a frog) that all the kids used to play on. My sister worked at Thom McCann and had friends at Dino's Pizza. Dino's had the BEST pizza!

    I wish the stigma that it was a crime area would go away, because that's what caused this mall to fail. Not because it was riddled with crime, but of the rumor it was riddled with crime. Of course, the 2 biggest news stories (in addition to one that Reuben's was tied to the mob and the RM location was a front) gave it the cursed reputation that it was a haven for crime (the darkness of the mall's interior also didn't help). It was on the south side of the city until the city and Richmond county governments consolidated in the early 90s, now it's in the center. The south side has the reputation of being the "poor" and "black" sides of town, and that is a very racist and dated stereotype. If the investments that have been put into eastern Columbia county were put into central and southern Richmond county, there's a good chance those areas would flourish just as well, if not better.

    I don't know if it would flourish as a retail establishment again. The area is just too big. I would love to see it as a convention center/10-15,000 capacity arena. This would be a huge trade draw, especially with Augusta's proximity to Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg, Athens, Atlanta, Macon and Savannah. And, a modern arena would draw a number of entertainers that shun the James Brown Arena for its small size, dated design, lack of luxury boxes and small size.

    A proven Model is the Gwinnett Convention Center and Arena (http://www.gwinnettcenter.com/). Gwinnett County lies Northwest of Atlanta and, after the construction of this facility, the area has been a HUGE boom for the area, taking a LOT of business from Atlanta, including the only hockey team in the area (Gwinnett Gladiators) and the Georgia Force Arena Football team.

    The Regency Mall side is a prime location, sitting at the intersection of Gordon Highway and Deans Bridge Road, two major thoroughfares that has easy access to the city and Bobby Jones Expressway. A facility like this would be a huge draw for hotel and restaurant business, and that would bring in more retail. If I had the funds, I'd do it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. augusta is in decline just like detroit, east st. louis, and others. they all have a common ingredient.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm sooooo glad I came across these pictures THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!! I too grew up basically living in this mall.. To include Christmas and even Halloween! With all their beautiful decorations and not to mention it was overpoweringly magical when you went to see Santa, unlike today's mall Santa. And I remember quite vividly that we would go trick or treating and just about every store participated. THIS MALL WAS FAR BEYOND AWESOME! Everything was great about it! The shops, the cinema, the food. I wish this mall still existed today the way it did before it became DARK. Augusta mall isn't too far behind

    ReplyDelete
  28. A bit late I suppose, but the unknown restaurant was a chick-fil-a or was at one time. I spent a goodly amount of time in that mall as a kid. Oh Calcuta was kind of like a spencers I guess, wierd knick-knacks like ninja stars, and micheal jackson gloves and jackets. The fountains were awesome. Some point after it's closure when nothing but the police station was left It was used to house a huge rave for the night. Was very interesting, different dj's playing in the different store areas and just kinda dark and creepy and a little trippy to walk through. This collection of photos brought back some great memories.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank You SOOOO Much for these pictures ive been looking everywhere for these

    ReplyDelete
  30. They should not have build that mall when it was sitting in the swamp and it was about to sink and it was old we have a new mall now an it was a nice mall we was sad about it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This location is only good for a park, if Augusta does invest in another mall, the best location would be in south Augusta off I-520.

    ReplyDelete
  32. If only "Darkside" Mall in in Florida had so many skylights!

    ReplyDelete
  33. We first moved to Augusta in 1969. The land for the Regency Mall was excavated in 1971 and there was a sign up that said, "Coming Soon - Regency Mall." When we moved away in 1973, nothing more had been done than the land excavated in 1971. The south side of Augusta that time was a pretty nice area, but it was declining. The mall was originally supposed to open in 1972 or 1973.

    I moved back to Augusta in early 2002, as Montgomery Wards was moving out. My friends all said what really killed the Regency Mall was the lack of security and problems with gangs. People didn't feel safe shopping there with all the gang bangers hanging out. Many people were robbed and assaulted in the parking lots.

    Had the construction for the mall been completed on time, it would have been established well before the Augusta Mall and had the stronger anchors. The stronger anchors would have had the financial leverage to force mall management to beef up security or they would not renew their lease and opt for the Augusta Mall while it was under construction.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The theater inside the mall was not 4 screens, it was 3 screens. The theater outside did not replace the one inside either. They both operated for a number of years, until about 1995.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The theater outside operated past 1995. I moved to Augusta in 1998 and used to go to the movies there. By that time, they charged $2.00 and the movies were past their prime but I loved going b/c I had a baby and didn't feel bad if I had to leave. I went there until at least 1999 or 2000 - decided to go one day and poof - it was closed down.

      Delete
  35. I also lived here and went to this mall, in fact my husband and I were there when it opened in July, 1978. The area was really a busy area and like others have said, it was a very popular mall for a decade or so. I worked there in several capacities in the mid 1980s. I worked in one store called the Card Cage. I also worked in the Mall office when I first got a temporary job there. Then I worked at Christmas time running a "kiddie train" there. Unfortunately, urban blight and lack of security insured its demise.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Augusta Mall and Regency Mall are too close together....it's like a gas station on each corner of an intersection......

    Of course there are other intangibles, but most people viewed, and still view, Augusta Mall as the 'upscale (nose up-turned) mall' and want to meet their friends there, etc......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked there in 1990...had never lived in Augusta before...worked for Footlocker at the time and we were told that there was a 'black' mall and a 'white' mall...Regancy was the balck mall. I actually had one old gentleman as for try-on socks from the "white basket". True store. My ASM was Keith Bing...former fullback from USC.

      Delete
  37. This mall was very close to my home, and convenient. I wanted to go as a young teen, but as it has been said, there was so much violence. When Montgomery Ward was the "last man standing," the owners of this mall had long since stopped maintaining the property properly... I know this because occasionally temporary things would come set up in the mall. There was an animatronic dinosaur exhibit that came to the Regency Mall a few times. I LOVED it as a kid, but ... I remember even then that the mall was creepy and unclean. Poor management/ownership. I live near the college and I still drive past this place regularly. It hurts my heart to see it.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Also, the most recent business to occupy the mall property seems to have been a traveling fair/carnival. So you can imagine what that looked like with the decaying Regency Mall as a backdrop....

    ReplyDelete
  39. My 2 brothers and I were on the construction Crew that built this Mall. My Father was the project manager. One of my brothers worked as mall maintenance. We know this Mall well. It is amazing That the Debartolo Group let it go.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have to agree on all of the posts i just read i remember going to the mall as a young kid i loved to go to the movies and i remember eating at the picdialy alot with my grandmom.I do think they need to turn it into a mall again maybe it will bring south augusta back.So please don't destroy history in the makeing and thanks for makeing me go back to memory lane with the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you so much for this wonderful collection. I have lived on the hill overlooking the mall for most of my life and have many fond and not so fond memories of it... I once got my head stuck between the balcony rails haha.

    My theory is that the reason it remains unused is largely do to the weather. The area around the mall looks as bad as the mall itself and is rife with abandoned buildings. The area is situated in a small valley which is prone to seasonal flooding, namely Hurricane Hugo in 1989 which turned the area into a pond more or less with flooding. But again, this is just my own theory.

    I was told by my mother that the foundation of the mall since it's abandonment has sunk to some degree which would further doom it to remain unused, but I have no proof of that.

    They have recently blocked off the entrances with concrete dividers to discourage thru traffic and very likely drug deals due to the areas lack of lighting and overgrown perimeter.

    The recent addition of a Marshall's office further up Deans Bridge brings some hope of cleaning up the areas crime problem along with a recent very large gun sales bust.

    Maybe if we can manage to clean up the riffraff, Regency Mall will see life again.

    ReplyDelete
  42. My friends and i were going to that mall in the 90s, but after we got threatened by some young males we stopped. My mom even called the management to follow up about what was being done for security and they had nothing reassuring. After it closed i dated some of Richmond Co finest, they'd go there to park. The long shadows made hiding easy, i was told. The place got a bad reputation and couldn't get away.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you so much for posting this article and the pictures. I worked as Personnel Assistant at Mongtomery Ward. I start prior to Regency Mall opening. This was a beautiful mall and the grand opening was just that GRAND.

    I remember Mr. DeBartolo being at the grand opening and he dance with many of MW's employees. Your article brought back great memories of Chik-fi-la outside of MW, Petland and the automotive department of MW. Our personnel offices was located right next to Automotive.

    I wish they could do somehing with this area. The area is perfect for a recreation park or waterpark. Former Governor of Georgia Carl Sanders use to own the land where the Mall is located. When they was building the Mall everyone spoke of how the land was sinking. True enough the malls had a lot of cracks in its wall early after being built.

    Thanks for the memories. I am sure if I dug into my photo albums I could find pictures of Regency Mall at its finest hour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please do! I have in the works a Regency Mall Part 3 where others have submitted photos and information about the mall since I did these posts. I would love to see them and feature them. My email is skycityretail@gmail.com

      Delete
    2. Hurry! I work within a half mile of the Mall ,and looks like they are getting ready for some demolition. Many entrances are open and being gutted of the inside materials. large beams are exposed and looks like they are getting ready to take it down. My coworker walks around it daily and updates me on what he sees.

      Delete
    3. The mall is being gutted, not demolished at this point. The owners were required to do this to make it meet fire code. Unfortunately this means all the preserved retail history inside is mostly gone. Someone just took pictures of the gutted mall recently, and some of these will be posted on Part 3

      Delete
    4. There are several pictures available on Flickr of the interior demolition. The photos are almost artistic in the sense of displaying a transformation to something entirely new while keeping subtle hints of a past life. Go to Flickr and search Regency Mall and you will see the pictures. It is sad but better than an implosion of the entire building.

      Delete
  44. As much as I would love to see this mall come back, I know in reality it is just going to stay a dead mall. The entire area around it has gone downhill, and obviously it was not the best when the mall opened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree with it not coming back but disagree on it not being the best when it opened. Back then there was so much to do in that area from Red Wing Rollerway to the go-kart track and Putt Putt Golf and Games. And with the mall came more development including the movie theater behind it. Sadly though the area wasn't kept up and security at the mall became subpar leading to the demise of the mall but other businesses around it as well. At least we have the memories this page and others provide. Anxiously awaiting Part 3!!!!

      Delete
  45. 7th picture from the end is former Morrow's Nut House - then Greene's Goodies & Gifts (not a restaurant). Building closest to the right was converted to J. B. White's Men's Big & Tall.

    ReplyDelete
  46. no pictures of my cinemas, what waste, magic was made there, dreams , not a lousy shoe store,geez.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The people tried. I was told that was an extremely dark and unsafe part of the mall with a portion of the roof caved in part of the way before it.

      Delete
  47. Great Photos! I remember this place fondly. The mall was doomed the second the FHA took over management of the condos up behind the mall and turned them into low income housing. I remember well how outraged the people were who bought them as condos.

    THAT moment lead to the security issues, you had a criminal breeding ground next to a target rich environment.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Well it IS located in Disgusta, GA, possibly one of the ugliest, blandest cities in the Southeast, and this mall is locate in one of the worst parts of this bland city. People can forget about this mall ever being revived. The neighborhoods around it have only gotten worse and it is still miles from the nearest freeway exit. Only thing to do with it is raze it and maybe build a park.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I too was there on opening day watching Jose Feliciano doing his free concert. I worked there and spent all my extra time there day and night. I did not like the Augusta Mall in comparison. My world for years was that mall. Later in the early 90's, I think 92 or 93, my son entered a Garfield Christmas coloring contest and won first place over 3, 500 entries. Garfield gave him a battery powered jeep. About a year later I had to go for school shopping, broad daylight, mall mostly empty, I had my son
    holding my hand and a group of Football player sized black teenagers were walking toward us in the center court, I thought ..well they will just veer around us, since there were no obstacles anywhere. No, they did not, they tried to bulldoze us down. Scared me and I swore i would never go back. Yes this is what ran everybody out. The mall had been taken over by black gangs, is what i was told, and that seems to be true. Yes I went back in time with the pictures, but South Augusta was a different place then. You could actually walk to the mall and be safe. Putting millions of dollars into it now will serve no purpose, for where it is, will be destroyed again. Sorry but true.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I worked in this Mall back in 1993. Sad to see if just sitting there slowly falling apart. Nice to see the pictures though. Brought back a lot of memories of my younger days! In the 80's that place had an awesome Christmas set up.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I grew up going to this mall all the time. Great to see these pics and stroll down memory lane!!!

    ReplyDelete
  52. I drove over there this evening, does anyone know how to get ahold of the property manager, From the Articles online I read a guy named Mark Axler manages the property, I can not find his contact though

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do, I just spoke to him today.

      Delete
  53. I too grew up here. Moved away in 93' but always came back and surely from about 1990 to 01 that
    Place took a dump on itself. Bad. Yes crime was bad. Theatre sucked (both). They charged full prices and their I terior was sooooo 1978 along with the squishy carpet and seats!

    But I DO have great memories there! One bad one though. A elementary school principal (mine) was shot in the head by a thug there whilst trying as usual to help him. I'm not sure if he passed or not. I never heard. His name was Joe Jolley. If anyone has info please email me at amichai137@gmail.com. thanks

    ReplyDelete
  54. I miss this mall, my brother and I was there every weekend,,, we never had any problems, however I do remember hearing all the bad things that happened ,, we had a very nice time,, first pair of NIKE'S came from there, I was only 8 when it opened so

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first pair of Nikes came from there too, from Athlete's Foot and my first Izod and pair of Levis came from Whites there as well. Who wears Izods anymore anyway? LOL

      Delete
  55. I live in augusta I and tha section of town regency mall is in is worst than it was when it was open...because of this as a retail mall it will always be targeted by shoppers who shop without money...if you know what I mean...sad but true..the city really need to kill this dinasaur..it is, an eye sore to the already run down area it sits in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With it being completely gutted, it's possible that it could be used for some type of manufacturing, warehousing, etc. But as you mentioned because of it's location, I doubt it will ever house retail again.

      Delete
  56. Water park.....state park...community park.....arena...none will be successful because of the location. Anything put there outside of a prison would. Be a bad risk. Don't get huffy with me. If you live here in augusta, then you know what I mean. Perhaps a prison would intimidate the thugs and gangsters around here

    ReplyDelete
  57. I just discovered this site, I remember this mall and all I can say is OMG. I have sooooooo many memories from my childhood here. My mother worked in one of the many freestanding booths that served as businesses. She worked at the indian jewelry store right outside of the pizza shop (Dino's I believe) amy sister and I used to go to work with her. Also I cheered in a cheerleading competition on the stage there (My squad won) The Great American Cookie Co. was located right outside the play area that was at the bottom of the staircase, My Aunt worked at the Everything's A Dollar store that was located directly under the Movie Theater where my step-dad was the manager. I miss that mall so much, It was just magical at Christmas and Trick-or-treating was always a success when done at the Mall. EVERY STORE PARTICIPATED! Everyone would go there on Halloween dressed up and trick or treat. Thank-you so much for these pictures. I am so ready for part 2 and 3

    ReplyDelete
  58. I was born and raised in Augusta, and so proud to be able to say that. I have such wonderful memories of that mall. In the mid to late 80's my mom and I would go every saturday. First we would eat at Taco Bell ( I seem to remember that it had brick around the entry way) and then we would go to the pet store. I was so young. Not even in school yet. I loved to run up and down those lovely brown stairs and I would always run across the small stage that is in one of the pictures. I remember running down the stairs in front of my parents and hiding from them under the angles. One of my most vivid memories was a day that i was very sick and mom took me to the toy store and I got a doll that would skate all by herself. My mom was holding me as we were going down the escalator and I was clutching on to that doll for dear life. When I got a little older the Merry go Round was THE place to go for clothes!! Yes the mall is in a bad location, but there is still something about driving past and looking that the empty giant and smiling with all of the great memories.

    ReplyDelete