Thursday, January 12, 2012

Signal Hill Mall: Statesville, NC (Update of post from January 16, 2011)

Barely large enough to support a mall, the city of Statesville, NC has still managed to have its very own mall. Problem is, not only is the mall quite small, but it does not seem to be doing terribly well these days. It is an attractive mall, though, for its size. It also holds onto most of its original wonderful 70's elements such as the planters, fountains and just about everything else aside from the anchor entrances to Belk and Sears. The mall opened in 1973 and likewise the mall still looks like 1973 inside and out barring a few modifications such as one of the fountains near Belk being covered, planters downsized, different paint and updated storefronts. For Signal Hill Mall, the combination of dated design, small size and a loss of many stores in the mall has made it rather popular with both fans of dead malls and fans of classic mall design. Its website, however, is quite ugly and the description of the mall rather strongly highlights the lack of a marketing consultant. It is not even clear who even owns the mall!


"We might not be the largest mall, or the most exciting shopping and entertainment destination in North Carolina. Signal Hill Mall, a beautiful gem, located in the rolling foothills of North Carolina, brings you the the fashion, dining and family entertainment options in an eccentric setting". Let us decipher this passage. First, they are putting themselves down in that first sentence. Then, they counteract that with an exaggerated statement in the next sentence. I guess they have small town fashion down pat since the anchors are holding steady, but I think the dining has diminished a bit with Chick-Fil-A gone. However, IHOP and the local barbeque restaurant hopefully make up for that somewhat. Family entertainment I guess means those gumball machines and kiddie rides that you sometimes find even in abandoned malls, but it seems that here you can be a little bold and try out their hurricane simulator. Too bad they don't have a tornado simulator. While you're pretending to be blown away and drowned in a storm surge, don't break your teeth on the gumballs. The last part, "an eccentric setting" is a little scary. Do we mean panhandlers, pot enthusiasts, bohemians from an anemic arts district or just a colorful term for a redneck? I think we should award this mall with the best advertising ever.



The smaller of two fountains in the mall is located in front of JCPenney and the former Spainhour's, which both make entrances at an angle from the mall wing. The first photo is a night-shot of the classic brutalist entrance. I sincerely hope the owners do not remove all of the fountains.



Another view of the fountain looking south along the JCPenney wing toward the main entrance. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


A view back along the JCPenney wing with JCPenney and Spainhour's in the background. Note one of the many planters in the mall with the light blue painted wood and brown tiles surrounding it.


JCPenney at a right diagonal.


Spainhour's visible on the left diagonal. A wall with an American flag divides the two anchors.


Close-up of JCPenney mall entrance. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


Close-up of Spainhour's mall entrance. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


Right in front of Spainhour's and JCPenney on both sides are these narrow entrance wings. Notice how the overhead light forms a long arrow. Also note the mix of brown tiles and pea gravel flooring along the floor leading to the exit. Too bad this hallway doesn't double as a time machine.

I actually visited this mall after writing the initial post on this, so finally getting to see it was a treat. It was also even more archaic than I expected. In fact, the only other mall I know of that Sky City covers that looks this original has been sealed off for 10 years. I guess some people would consider this seedy, but seeing things like well-placed brown linoleum floor tiles, large in-floor fountains, lush planters, cylindrical light fixtures pea gravel step walls and ancient storefronts was a real treat. Unfortunately, a look like this is not going to keep the tenants forever. Sears is closing in early 2012, so something needs to be done to make this mall more appealing without making it dirt plain like the Hull Storey Gibson malls. If nothing else, the owners should keep the fountains and planters including uncovering and making the fountain in front of Belk more safe, although modernizing the fountains somewhat (perhaps larger) would be much appreciated. Beautiful fountains are rare in malls today, but this should be one mall that doesn't remove them.




Three views of the fountain in center court. This is what I expect to see when I see a fountain a mall: an in-ground large tub-like fountain with a distinctive modernist design with water falling off the edges and plants all around. The first photo is looking toward Sears, second toward JCPenney and last towards the main entrance. All three photos by Mike Kalasnik.


A close-up shot of the funky old fountain in center court.


Row of mostly empty shops on left side of Sears wing. The empty store with the red outline was a former Kay Bee Toys. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


Close up of Kay-Bee Toys with Labelscar visible. Along with Circus World, these were a staple of malls up to the 1990's despite the presence of Toys 'R' Us and Lionel Play World. A loss of variety including stores like this are one reason malls are struggling today. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


The raised "stage" area in the JCPenney wing features light blue paint on the wood trim and pea gravel on the side. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


A closer look at the stage area. While interesting, this seems to serve absolutely no purpose at all.

The mall's three anchors are pretty much what you would expect in North Carolina in a smaller town: Belk, Sears and JCPenney. The mall also once had a fourth anchor, which last operated as Peeble's. Peeble's was configured very strangely in the mall squeezed up beside JCPenney in the back of the mall.  This was done in a 1988 expansion which moved the Spainhour's in order to add JCPenney. Also, on an outlot on the northwest corner of the mall is a vacant grocery store that previously operated as Winn-Dixie. It should also be noted that despite this generic list of anchors that there were a few changes over the years. While Belk and JCPenney are original anchors, the other mall anchors proved to be far more volatile. Sears is a late arrival to the mall, opening in 1997. The Sears was originally Woolworth (more like a junior Woolco) and it closed in 1992. In 1995, it was replaced by Hills Department Store only to close the following year. Sadly, Sears will be closing this spring in the same location. Peeble's, the other anchor to close, operated as Spainhour's until 1992. Peeble's itself closed about 10 years after it arrived, completely leaving the city. The store remains vacant today. IHOP also replaced a restaurant called Apple House Buffet which apparently was originally a Bonanza Steakhouse.


Belk features an updated entrance in total contrast to the mall's surroundings. It is at least a positive sign that Belk has made a real investment in the store even if it means a standard post-2000 mall entrance. Also note the red patch in the middle. This is a boarded-over deep fountain that is visible in the second of two videos I linked to below. I hope if this mall gets remodeled this fountain is uncovered and some nice railing put around it to keep people from falling in so we can see it again.


The same planter in the earlier photo on the JCPenney wing looking instead toward center court. The left side shown here shows there is still life in the mall. I'm sure like Lenoir Mall, GNC will be the one shutting out the lights if everything else here leaves.


Sears mall entrance with round planter in front. I'm pretty sure Hibbett Sports was probably next to Sears on the right along this wing.



One thing you didn't find in 70's malls was "plush" seating. This backless bench looks like the place where sometime in the 80's a middle aged man was plopped down staring sullenly into space waiting for the wife with stars in her eyes and a furious click to her heels to charge up his credit card.


Ramps and stairs are found on both sides of center court with Belk lower than Sears.



Bookland, the rare small format Books-A-Million, at least keeps a bookstore in the mall. I wonder if a full-scale Books-A-Million couldn't be squeezed in between the soon-to-be-former Sears and center court since it looks like outside access does exist there.



I am still trying to figure out this very very dated former tenant. The only thing that comes to mind is Wicks 'N' Sticks.


This store front has a label scar, but I cannot remember what it said and am having trouble telling from the photo at this angle. The fact it is clad with wood paneling says it has been closed for possibly as much as 20 years. It seems like I remember it saying "Happy Hermans".

Sadly, once you get past IHOP or enter the mall from the department stores, there is not much to offer in this mall anymore. Absolutely no popular fashion stores exist in the mall. Even Rue 21 lacks a presence in the mall, so it is clear that the mall will not have a lengthy future if it is not repositioned or at least marketed better, and the main problem is that it is plainly too small and dated in a town that is likewise possibly too small to support it despite the anchors. I wonder if it is also an issue of the local economy. The town is in a region that has been badly hurt by the offshoring of jobs and subsequent closing of factories. Strip centers that have popped up in the last decade both have stores like GameStop. Does the mall have a GameStop? Nope. Nevertheless, it is well-located next to I-77, so basically it suffers from the Cookeville curse. My guess is that a strip mall with those same anchors would probably be more successful, and it looks like the culprit to the malls vacancy problem is the explosion of new strip malls around the city in the past few years when Signal Hill once owned the market. Wal-Mart as well as the recently built strip just to the east with Bi-Lo both caused the bleeding to occur, and likely the lack of investment in the mall is a combination of small, local ownership lacking the leverage to draw tenants and a lack of need to invest in an extensive remodel before the retail boom in the past decade.



Before this post was updated, the post featured 7 separate short videos of Signal Hill Mall by Mike Kalasnik taken in May 2010. With his help, I compiled those clips into one adding captions to describe diferent places filmed. This is my first attempt at compiling a video and posted them on the new YouTube channel for Sky City.


A friend found this footage taken of the mall in its far better days back in 1991. Note the presence of a deep fountain next to Belk, Woolworth and Spainhours still operational, warm orange trim and a fully tenanted healthy mall. Seeing the video above first makes this painful to watch. The person taking video also has video walking around the Woolworth as well as further footage inside the Woolworth Harvest House restaurant in the store.


In the first photo, Signal Hill Mall's entrance is firmly trapped in the 70's, and it looks just fine. The geometric shapes and loopy font is actually very eye-catching. The first photo was submitted to me by Mike Kalasnik. In the second photo, this is actually from the 70's. It is from LiveMalls courtesy of Pat Richardson. Note the Woolworth's located where Sears is today and the Spainhour's logo next to the JCPenney logo.


Spainhour's labelscar is visible from the front of the mall if the light is right. The sign rests above the mall near the main entrance.


A map of the mall with all anchors current and former listed. The last store occupying an anchor is listed first with previous anchors listed below it.



A map of the mall as it is today. Note the awesome logo at the bottom. This map may date to the early days of the mall. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.


The mall features several styles of overhead skylights including this one close to Sears.


The mall is trying on an international flavor with POHI! Here you can get scrambled egg samosas and salmon teriyaki burritos. In the background is the front/main entrance.

With Signal Hill Mall, I see some very creative potential to make this mall more competitive with the strip malls that have wounded the mall. While I do not see Target coming to town, what I do see is a strip mall next door in desperate need of redevelopment. It is dragging down the mall, and it should become one with the mall somehow or have its dead parts demolished. What I am basically talking in regards to "one with the mall" about is integrating a pedestrian corridor between the two centers via an open-air but covered walkway by expanding the mall either through or in front of Belk into the strip mall. I also see a pitiful website that scares away those wishing to invest in the mall. Small upgrades to the mall like new paint (such as a return to the burnt orange), new flooring, improvements to the main mall entrance and refurbishment (not removal) of fountains, benches and planters inside would help as well. I would at least suggest replacing the off-white square tiles that look dingy and plain with more attractive flooring (perhaps a slate-looking tile?).


In case you missed the joke above, POHI is what you see above. Whlie hardly first-class dining, it is at least a chain restaurant willing to anchor the mall. Photo by Mike Kalasnik.



On this overhang, JCPenney is right justified while Spainhour's labelscar is on the left. Apparently Peeble's did not post a sign up here judging by the lack of their label scar.


Belk runs the show as the top dog anchor of the mall. If Belk leaves for any reason, the mall will fold like a gambler with a bad hand. Note that the mall appears to have had canopies removed underneath the arches.



Will anything come to fill the void Sears is about to leave behind? If nothing else, I could see Rose's working here though I hope for something better, more unique and more of a draw.



Spainhour's looks lonely and forgotten hidden in the least visible corner of the mall. This store should honestly be absorbed into JCPenney to strengthen JCPenney's position at the mall.


If JCPenney closes this store on the heels of Sears closing, this mall will be near impossible to save. It is quite possibly one of the plainest JCPenney stores I've ever seen, and if the renovated and combined with Spainhour's space, it could be far better. If JCPenney leaves, Kohl's or Hamrick's should take this space.


View of Winn-Dixie store on northeast corner of the mall. Does anybody know when this might have closed?


One of the long, narrow mall exits in the mall. This one is next to Belk.

As Sears prepares to depart the mall, this will either be a disaster for the mall or an opportunity to make it better. Toying with many plans, the plan that makes the most sense is to build a new 2-level Belk on top of what is now Newtowne Plaza, converting the old Belk to mall space with an additional junior anchor.  From the old Belk, a small amount of mall would be built connecting the upper level of Belk to the mall.  JCPenney would also move into the old Sears, and the existing JCPenney and abandoned Peeble's would be demolished.  Along with that, Newtowne Plaza would be reconfigured to include another grocery or discount anchor and the theater would be demolished.  The old Harris Teeter would be refinished and subdivided as well.  Doing this would make the mall viable and marketable again since the current mall is too old, small and poorly configured.  Possible anchors to add to the mall include Dunham's Sporting Goods, Hamrick's, Ingles (in the strip portion), Peeble's/Burke's Outlet, Wal-Mart, Target, Academy Sports, Cabela's among others.  The new mall addition should also be designed more lush than modern malls with a new fountain, wood along the ceiling, lots of natural light (high windows and an overhead skylight) and integrated with the older part of the mall.  Indeed, Signal Hill is troubled, but with Belk and JCPenney hanging on this is the last chance for the mall to pull out and have another shot at success. Do the people in the town just prefer strip malls? They are lucky to have a mall, but it is up to them to make the once great mall great again, and it will take a really sound plan to save it. At nearly 40 years old, the people of Statesville should fight to keep this little gem from dying. Maybe this was what the mall website meant when it talked about "an eccentric setting".


The first redevelopment plan is pretty ambitious with an unusual layout.  It calls for two department store anchors, one sporting goods anchor, one discount or grocery anchor where JR's is currently and one junior department store anchor.  It retains much of Newtowne Plaza but reconfigures it demolishing the old Harris Teeter to make Belk fully visible from the road.  Belk will have two mall entrances, the lower level of the mall will be open-air with stairs and escalator to the back wing and the mall will have greatly expanded space.  However, the back anchor will have no visibility from the road.


The second redevelopment plan is more economical and more likely basically converting the Belk to a combination of a junior anchor and mall space.  It includes a small mall addition to connect to a new Belk in Newtowne Plaza from the upper level of the replacement Belk.  It also includes a complete overhaul of Newtowne Plaza and demolition of the back anchor that currently includes an undersized JCPenney.  The plan here makes the mall more front-facing and offers the ability to turn Newtowne Plaza into a lifestyle center.  In both plans, the existing JCPenney and former Spainhour's is demolished, JCPenney relocates into the old Sears/Woolworth, Belk becomes an expanded mall and a new 2-level Belk store is built on what is currently a portion of Newtowne Plaza.  The two levels are needed due to the grade difference between the strip and the mall, and in the second plan Belk will provide the only access from Newtowne Plaza to the mall by foot.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Regency Mall (Part 2): Augusta, GA

In the normal world of retail, vacant malls do not usually stay vacant long.  Either the property is too valuable, the public screams loud enough about the blight, a non-conventional retail use is tried (such as a flea market) or non-commercial interests resurrect the structure into something they can use similar to Eastgate Mall in Chattanooga, TN.  Because of that, the "Dixie Square" scenario is a rare and generally unfortunate event where a mall stays abandoned for more than about 5-7 years before any action is taken.  By then, the property is beginning to deteriorate.  This means that the forces of change must come together to make things happen before the forces of nature come together to make things moldy and decrepit.


In the Southeast, I know of only one other mall that has been abandoned longer than Regency Mall and that is the open-air Normandale Mall in Montgomery.  After languishing for 15 years, the mall was closed completely in 1995.  It is also hidden deep in a very depressed area mostly invisible to the wealthier side of the city.  Regency is not so hidden.  It sits at the intersection of two major U.S. highways, and it is even visible in the distance along the newly-opened I-520 in South Carolina.  While the neighborhood has declined, it is not exactly a row of abandoned buildings around it either.  Decay has noticeably set in on the structure since its closure a decade ago, but overall it is still in very good shape.  Most of the mall looks more trashed than it does crumbling.

Montgomery Wards in all its burnt orange tiled glory in the first two photos.  This is not only one of the best Wards entrances ever, but also one of the best mall entrances ever.  The cream-colored brick next to the shiny tiles and great looking logo make the store seem very inviting.  It is also such a relic of a mall entrance that honestly it looks contemporary again.  If this mall ever reopened a new store anchored there, I would hope they would keep this all intact.  Photos by KJ.

Same view from lower level.  Photo by KJ.



The next three photos above are from a different photographer.  As one of only three modern-era Wards in Georgia, and the last one open, the store is indeed extra special.  All photos by BT.


A couple views inside Wards.  This is the only department store anchor with any natural light since one of the entrances was not boarded up.  Unfortunately, this store does not include any of the infamous burnt orange or lime green shag carpet that the chain was infamously known to have as late as the 90's.  Photos by KJ.


Escalator well in the middle of Wards.  Seeing these photos make me long so much for when this was open and it was possible to buy quality hardlines at some place besides Sears.  Photos by KJ.

King's Jewelry on the lower level.  Photo by KJ.

Another trashed mall directory.  Photo by KJ.

Because of the lack of a decent mall directory, I decided to create my own.  I am not exactly certain of Ruben's location, but I do know it was close to Belk.

Inside, the mall is like a Steven King book where you got to go back into the past, but all the people were gone with only the buildings remaining.  Christmas decorations still hang from the ceilings dirty and tarnished with age from the last Christmas the mall was open in 2001.  Dated storefronts abound throughout the mall.  Both Montgomery Ward and JB White still have their signs up over the store entrances greeting ghost shoppers.  While dark in places, skylights that look somewhat like those in an Air Force hangar still provide abundant cheery light against the white sheetrock during the daytime.  Most of the mall seems to be in surprisingly good condition, though locations are found in the mall where holes have opened in the ceiling, flooding the mall.  However, a recent inspection by the city did not find any mold problems in the mall: surprising considering how it has been vacant all this time aside from the marshal's substation that left this past year.

Upon closer observation, one of the escalators has unfortunately been significantly deconstructed by vandals.  Photo by KJ.

The blind can see again as light is cast along a wall showcasing what was once your choice of blinds.  Photo by KJ.

Was this Chick-Fil-A?  Regency never had a food court, so it could have been anywhere in the mall.  Had the mall been renovated, the theaters would have likely become the food court.  Photo by KJ.

It seems that Lens Crafters or Pearle Vision is found in every mall.  This one is situated next to Wards on the upper level.  Photo by KJ.

Lens Crafters takes up about three tenant spaces.  I'm sure it did a thriving business in the day.  Photo by KJ.

Major water damage is an unfortunate feature just in front of the main entrance to the store, which is protected by a screen door unlike the busted out glass along the rest of it.  Photo by KJ.

EEEEEEEEEYE EXAM 2000.  Iiiiiii remember when 2000 was considered an exciting year way off in the future where we would live like the Jetsons driving flying cars on sky highways.  I also remember how Y2K was hyped as the end of modern civilization.  It pretty much was for this mall.  Photo by KJ.

You can get your glasses adjusted for free if you can just find anyone working.  You might be waiting awhile, because the staff took a very long lunch.  Photo by KJ.

One last look at Lens Crafters.  Photo by KJ.

Lady Foot Locker was one of the last stores to close at the mall along with Foot Locker.  Photo by KJ.

Quite a few observations can be made otherwise about a 70's mall never renovated.  For one, if this mall had stayed alive such a scene would likely not exist.  Storefronts in the mall are a mix of eras, but for the most part they are pretty much set in the first decade the mall was open.  In all, maybe 12-15 signs still exist on store fronts with label scars elsewhere.  One should not expect to find much sheetrock over closed stores either.  They sit right out in the open for you to walk into at will.  While the mall itself has managed to maintain its charm the presence of heavy vandalism, trash and grime are everywhere.  Glass is broken out of most storefronts and most stunning are the escalators where the rubber handrails have been mostly yanked off and left in a large pile at the top.  Most planters are just bare dirt now and fountains are of course dry.  Eerily enough, though, are all the banners posted announcing stores moving and such as if the mall was still open.  Three of the four outside mall entrance corridors lack skylights, so they sit in total darkness since the entries are boarded up allowing no natural light to filter in.

Abandoned post office branch in the mall.  Photo by KJ.


These two photos above were inside a shop near JB White.  Photos by KJ.

Not everything in the mall is truly vintage.  Since the mall held its own into the mid-90's, some stores did move in the mall and some did get remodeled.  This storefront definitely isn't.  Photo by KJ.


Along the wing of the unbuilt fifth anchor is this awesome extremely retro Master Cuts.  To me it looks like it should be called Master Funky with a functioning disco inside.  The photographer also captured the inside as well.  Photo by KJ.

Inside the Master Cuts, mirrors and green pattered wallpaper abound.  The mirrors were useful to catch  your stylist before they hacked your hair up.  Photo by KJ.

Kidsmart?  Sounds like a less than subtle cover for child trafficking.   I guess if they'd succeeded they would have branched out to ParentStupid.  Photo by KJ.

In this image Cullum's, later Upton's, is on the right.  This junior anchor was far more visible outside than in the mall.  I am curious as to whether Upton's used both levels.  Photo by BT.

The upper level entrance to Cullum's features a folded entryway that is unmistakably similar to Rich's mall entrances in the 70's. Photo by BT.

One of the features of greatest interest in the mall is not as obvious from the outside: the anchor pad for a fifth anchor.  This was the anchor that would have been filled by JCPenney had they not left for Augusta Mall.  This was also what is shown outside as Mall Entrance 3.  It is a sad reminder of the grand aspirations for Augusta's first mall to be the powerhouse of the region.  It almost makes the mall feel alive and even new to see a location for a planned anchor.  The brown linoleum tiles, though, found on the edges of fountains, center island areas and the staircases are there to remind you that this was a dream long in the past, highlighting the unfortunate importance of renovations.  The flooring consists mostly, though, of square terrazzo tiles giving a tan/peach color.  Twin escalators are also located on both the Montgomery Ward and Belk wing pointing upwards towards each respective anchor.  A clock also sits on a flat wall in center court with its time stuck at 4:20.  Is this when the clock stopped or did the vandals move the dials deliberately? 

Both levels of Cullum's are visible in this shot.  The lower level looks similar to the outside entrance.  If only mall entrances had this much attention to detail today.  Photo by RM.

I traced the Cullum's logo found in my earlier posts and photoshopped the logo in the same photo above to demonstrate what it might have looked like.  Below is a picture of just the lower level with the same logo including an outline.

Cullum's lower level mall entrance with logo added by me.  Photo by KJ.

Now moving onto JB White sitting at the end of a very spacious center court.  JB White is fronted with simple brick matching the exterior but the awesome logo remains never being removed after the store closed.  This is definitely the only JB White mall entrance sign left intact with all other JB White stores converted to Belk, Dillard's or demolished.  In my older JB White post, I have a picture by C Lewis of the logo on the outside.  Photo by BT.

More detail of the mall entrance.  The logo is smaller on the upper level than on the lower level.  Photo by BT.

Close-up of the JB White mall entrance.  Photo by KJ.

White's inside was extremely dark, so very little detail is visible.  This was one of the best photos.  Photo by KJ.

Looking back from center court (JB White is on the left) toward Wards.  Photo by BT.

Small, locally-operated mystery meat Chinese restaurants and malls have a long relationship.  So long that you still know about the specials 10 years after they close.  Photo by KJ

It's hot and boring in Augusta meaning people aren't getting outside as much, so this store likely did a brisk business back in the day.  Photo by KJ.

What is really most amazing in the mall, though, are the mall entrances.  A Belk label scar is still visible with the right light on the stunning copper toned mall entrance.  JB White in its older classy cursive logo still retains its white sign on the brick entering the store that has sat in complete darkness since 1998.  Best of all is Montgomery Ward, though.  Burnt orange tiles back the sign with cream colored brick placed on each side.  Neither the sign, the tiles nor the brick look any worse for wear.  In fact, with so much time passed by the sign almost looks hip.  Cullum's is the most mysterious of anchor tenants blending in with store fronts between Ward's and White's.  All that is noticeable is the distinctive window features placed on both levels that were nicely not removed by later tenants Meyers-Arnold and Upton's.  However, any evidence of a logo has long since been painted over since the store was the first anchor to close in the mall.

Approaching Belk from the lower level.  Photo by KJ.

More detail of Belk from the lower level.  Note the copper toned awnings.  While this store may have closed in 1996, it was definitely not covered up. Photo by KJ.

View of the Belk entrance from the upper level.  Photo by BT.

Close-up of the Belk mall entrance on the upper level.  Photo by BT.

The Belk labelscar is visible due to the place where the sign covered being less tarnished.  While the store was a partnership store (Belk Howard), Mr. Howard chose not to place his name on this store.  Photo by KJ.

The glass on the exterior of the store was very similar to this.  Photo by KJ.

Detail of what was once an impressive terraced skylight.  Photo by KJ.


While very dark and dusky, it was plain that the interior of the store was elegantly designed.  Belk had extremely attractive stores in the 70's and 80's especially at major shopping malls.  Photos by KJ.

The best photo available of the escalators and elevator inside Belk.  Photo by KJ.

Not only is Regency Mall a living time capsule, but it is also is a perfect specimen of wasted potential.  A victim of its location, management and unstable anchors it has become a tough to impossible sell with all the anchor consolidation and stigma attached to one of its major anchors simply closing due to poor sales.  If it was possible to revive the mall, it would take millions just to renovate and repair the damage from decay and vandalism.  Cardinale Entities has emerged as the latest owner with a plan, but their expertise tends to be malls catering to an ethnic market.  Augusta is far less diverse than Atlanta or Charlotte making that a pretty tough sell.  Regency's closing, though, left Augusta undermalled.  Augusta Mall is completely overwhelmed with shoppers.  The problem is, what anchors would choose to move in to this mall if they wanted to?

70's malls always had a cafeteria and it just so happens that this gem of a mall also included a gothic Piccadilly Cafeteria.  Unfortunately, none of the photographers really explored the interior.  Photo by KJ.

Piccadilly Cafeteria's labelscar is visible in this image.  The restaurant sits right next to Montgomery Ward.  Photo by KJ.

Apparently the cafeteria was operated independently for a period of time after Piccadilly closed at the mall.  It is unknown when the restaurant closed this location.  Photo by KJ.

Next to JB White is this store.  I thought it was a former B. Dalton but upon closer inspection was some sort of clothing store.  Maybe somebody knows.  Photo by BT.

Former Rainbow at the mall.  Note the much older logo style.  Photo by KJ.


A couple more pics of Rainbow.  Photos by KJ.

This note was inside a former store that appears to have been Upton's.  Note the Super Wal-Mart in quotations back when the stores were still a novelty.  Photo by KJ.

Detail of a wall around a mall entrance.  It is unknown what store this was.  Photo by KJ.

View of JB White fro lower level.  Photo by KJ.

With Regency, its retail days are most likely over, though an outlet mall could possibly work there.  Imagine a center like Discover Mills anchored by Bass Pro Shops and outlet stores filling up the anchors.  It could work, but it would take a huge investment, heavy promotion and even heavier security to make sure that Regency Outlets did not become Shoplifting 101 and Decrepit Mall 2.0.  My personal idea is that Hollywood should honestly consider turning the entire mall into a set.  It would a perfect mall to feature TV shows and movies based in the 70's and 80's or movies featuring the South.  Perhaps the anchors could even be turned into studios and talent recruiting agencies.  Also important to note is how having the department store anchor signs from the era would make it even easier.  Filming movies in the mall would help pay for the center's upkeep while still maintaining its historical aspects.  Dixie Square Mall became famous because of a movie filmed in it after it closed.  Why can't Regency do the same?



Few things are a blast from the past more than these mall lists.  They list tenants that haven't existed at least since the late 1980's such as Jeans West, Hardy Shoes and Kinney Shoes.  Petland was also a mall tenant.  One near where I live is now very much off-mall.  Photos by KJ.


Here are a couple shots inside Wards Auto Center.  The noise of power tools, engines and mechanics hard at work is long gone but the ad banners advertising what they can do for you still linger.  Photos by KJ.

This one last photo of White's from center court concludes the two-part series on Regency Mall.  Photo by BT.