When the mall opened on August 9, 1995, it opened at the end of the mall era with great expectations of being a regional powerhouse sporting an enormous 1.3 million square feet. When built, Oak Hollow also competed indirectly with two malls in Winston-Salem and directly with Friendly Center, an enormous outdoor shopping center in Greensboro. Building a large mall, however, did not exactly increase the appeal of High Point, and the area surrounding the mall has not developed much since it opened. The result is that the newest mall in the region is also a dying mall, and on February 24, 2011 it was sold to High Point University ultimately sealing the mall's fate.
The first photo shows center court with the elevator. The second photo here provides excellent detail of the skylights with the high clouds giving a dreamy effect. While not the most impressive, it certainly is not hideous either and this mall is pure 90's. Many elements of this mall remind me a stripped down version of North Point Mall in Alpharetta, GA. This and all photos published here by digitalsky.
I guess if the mall had been doing better, the palm trees would have been long gone by now. Exactly why were trees removed from most malls? Palms especially are interesting in the Piedmont since they do not grow there naturally. Photo by digitalsky.
A view of the lower level shows a few chain stores still around. It reminds me of the waning days of Century Plaza in how fast the mall is dying. Photo by digitalsky.
Escalators with mirrored sides apparently all the rage in the 90's. So were snap bracelets, bowl cuts and soccer shorts for casual wear. Photo by digitalsky.
This image proves that even newer malls are spooky when they die. Imagine how this scene wood look with brown tiles and dark wood trim. Photo by digitalsky.
This mall map presents a mall as healthy as a double bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings. It hasn't quite gotten to the milkshake yet, but it's coming for desert. The sale to the university is definitely the "special sauce" on the burger. Photo by digitalsky.
When the mall opened, the anchor lineup was promising. Belk Beck, Dillard's, JCPenney, Sears and Goody's provided a new upgraded shopping experience for the city. Shoppers previously flocked to Westchester Mall, an older, smaller mall built in 1970 that quickly died after Oak Hollow opened. Both Belk Beck and JCPenney left Westchester for the mall leaving the older mall anchorless since Thalhimer's had already long since closed. With only one level, a dated layout and three anchors the mall was incapable of competing with such a large mall closing later that year. Sadly, Westchester Mall was the right size for the city as well as being better located to capture High Point shoppers exclusively while the current mall has faced more direct competition.
You would think the mall's declining fortunes would have resulted in Belk saving the money on rebranding some of its stores, but when even Eden Mall gets a new sign they aren't going to let it show. Photo by digitalsky.
Dillard's tends to close the upper level when they downgrade to a clearance store. You tend to wonder why they take this intermediate step. Are they just stuck in a lease? Photo by digitalsky.
Inside the Dillard's upper level. Photo by digitalsky.
Goody's former mall entrance, now an unmarked entrance to Sears Operations Center. Goody's, later Steve & Barry's University Sportswear, was only one level, and the entrance is there obviously for employees to enjoy what is left of the mall on their break. Photo by digitalsky.
A former Express store on the upper level. Photo by digitalsky.
Inside the former Express store with all-American colors. Photo by digitalsky.
While Westchester complimented other malls in the region, all of the major shopping centers strongly reacted to the opening of Oak Hollow Mall. Four Seasons Town Centre added a third level. Carolina Circle Mall in Greensboro, already struggling, faded into history. The most direct blow, however, came when Friendly Center greatly expanded with a new outdoor "lifestyle center" addition (though the center technically was one to start with) in October 2006 further drawing shoppers away from the mall. It was clear that unlike the earlier Westchester Mall, other shopping centers saw Oak Hollow as a threat, and their reactionary improvements began the downward spiral at the mall. The anchor overlap also was a problem with Dillard's and JCPenney also at Four Seasons. Belk was also at Four Seasons as well, but also located at Friendly Center not that far away. Not attracting a Macy's also lowered the long-term appeal of the mall. Macy's not having a presence at the mall was peculiar enough since Westchester had Thalhimer's, which was destined through mergers to ultimately become Macy's anyway.
With JCPenney closing shortly, I am adding more photos than usual of the entrance. JCPenney built its most attractive stores in the 1990's compared to the Target-inspired look they are obsessed with today. Photo by digitalsky.
JCPenney upper level entrance with neon and octagon skylights there to make you feel like you are about to be abducted by a UFO. Photo by digitalsky.
Here is close-up detail of the upper and lower level mall entrances, respectively giving a glimpse into the inside of the stores. The dark green fake marble flooring is tasteful. Photos by digitalsky.
American Eagle...absolutely essential for at least a marginally successful mall. Rolls of brown paper...absolutely essential to hide the insides when management won't spring for termporary white walls. Photo by digitalsky.
Sears, of course, will be here to shut out the lights when everybody else is gone: at least store-wise. Photo by digitalsky.
Oak Hollow Mall is a very young mall to be so troubled. Its problems became apparent before the mall even reached 15 years old. The first was more subtle when Goody's closed at the mall. I cannot confirm the date, but it appears to have been in early 2008 awhile before the company liquidated. Steve & Barry's University Sportswear briefly took over the spot before that company also folded in 2008. On December 8, 2009 Sears relocated its customer service center in that location after Steve & Barry's left. What came next, though, was more ominous with Dillard's converting to a clearance store in November 2009. The worst news of all, however, came on January 24, 2011 when JCPenney decided to ax its store at the mall with the store closing its doors by June 1st. On February 11, 2011, Belk added insult to injury announced that is mulling closing its location at the mall as well. However, Belk has had a long presence in High Point and also mentioned that it would open a new location at High Point if they closed at the mall. Too bad reopening its store at Westchester Mall is not in the cards.
This is why I generally hate it when they renovate malls: this mall entrance looks rather distinctive. When places are original, they have the unique, personal touches intended by the original architects. Photo by digitalsky.
I really do like the mall entrances from the outside a lot. The 90's was the beginning of more elaborate mall entrances compared to the typically impersonal boxes found in 70's and 80's malls. That was one thing that did improve in mall design. The best part is that the mall logo is not in lower case letters in the same font that used in every other logo today. Photos by digitalsky.
Fortunately, hungry shoppers will find the food court has held onto some chain restaurants including Subway, Panda Express and Sbarro. When these pictures were taken, it appeared it hadn't yet gotten to the level yet where the only place to eat in the mall is some local dig named something like Annie's Hot Dogs. Photo by digitalsky.
Sears aimed for a generic design in the 90's with this store pretty much a clone of the store added onto Riverchase Galleria around the same time. Photo by digitalsky.
The 90's was also a time that putting a retro plaque on the door was popular as a way to show the strength and proud history of a company. That doesn't seem to be working much for younger shoppers, though. Photo by digitalsky.
Now with the mall in crisis, the value of the mall plummeted finally triggering the sale to the university. Selling at only $9 million, it is clear that despite the continued presence of Belk, Sears and a Dillard's Clearance Center that the mall has reached the end of its life as a retail center only 15 years after opening. In all, it is rather curious since CBL also owns the highly successful Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem why this property became a troubled asset for them. CBL still manages the mall despite the sale, but this agreement will likely terminate once all the anchors and inline tenants depart.
Here are a couple views of JCPenney from the outside. It is rather odd to see them depart considering they moved here from Westchester Mall and have been part of the city for years. Photos by digitalsky.
Belk, which opened as Belk Beck, looks odd with the new logo. The logo looks too small for the building. It is definitely not one of my favorite Belk designs with its gaudy horizontal stripes. Photos by digitalsky.
Dillard's in its ugliest era. I bet if Ivey's had still been around when the mall was built they would have made this store look so much better. Photo by digitalsky.
Sears Operations Center definitely has the Goody's signatures on the outside. They did a nice job covering up where the "G" used to be. Photo by digitalsky.
Seeing how quickly High Point's retail jewel lost its shimmer, I have to wonder how different things would have been had it never been built and Westchester remained the only game in town. Unfortunately, Westchester Mall is now a church, but I wonder if they would let it convert back to a mall if the price was right. The word on the street, though, is that the city itself is failing, so possibly that mall's death would have only been postponed if Oak Hollow had not stolen its soul 15 years ago (before it was born again as a church)! Four Seasons Town Centre itself has struggled partly due to this mall, so maybe its departure will give it the shot in the arm it needs. In the next couple years, Oak Hollow Mall will fade into history like a wrinkle in time, but maybe a silver lining can be found in the death of a mall that obviously was not too big to fail.
ALSO: More photos below all taken by Mike Kalasnik:
The planters on the side are among some of the most interesting I've seen
The mall also has some 70's sensibilities about it such as these octagonal skylights.
Detail on the upper level back in the days when mall developers realized there were more colors available for flooring than slate and light tan.
Another 70's throwback...green astroturf in the center court.
Palm trees grace the lower level. I remember when Town Center at Cobb near Atlanta had those when it first opened in the 80's.
This is a most beautiful pic. Mike Kalasnik states that this reminds him of now-defunct Eastland Mall in Charlotte. From this angle, I at least agree in regards to the steps.
More empty storefronts.
This is the last view on the upper level, but I can't tell which department store that is on the right.