Thursday, January 8, 2015

JCPenney Store closings a death blow for struggling malls in the South and Mid-Atlantic States

The new year hasn't rung in bright for a ton of struggling malls across the South and Mid-Atlantic.  A bunch of malls including many covered on the Sky City blog are losing their JCPenney hurling these centers, which are barely hanging on, into dead mall status.  Sky City has predicted several of these for awhile, but the loss of these vital anchors means certain death for the majority of the malls.  The list is available here.  Here is a run-down from Texas to New Jersey:

Market Square Shopping Center (Brenham, TX)

Located in a dying strip, the center is losing a key anchor tenant

Walnut Square Mall (Dalton, GA)

Struggling for a number of years, this poorly located mall in an economically depressed area of the state has been placed on death watch by industry analyst since 2009.  However, until now no anchors have left the mall.  With Sears likely closing soon and Belk likely looking to relocate, this will be placing the mall in dead mall territory quickly unless another anchor is lined up.

Gwinnett Place Mall (Duluth, GA)

Among the most tragic but expected, this 30 year old store is anchoring the large and slowly dying Gwinnett Place Mall that was once the premier shopping destination for the northeastern side of Atlanta.  The JCPenney at Gwinnett Place originally opened as Mervyn's in 1986 and was sold to JCPenney in 1996.  Sky City has photos of the store but has not yet published a post on it.

LaGrange Mall, formerly West Georgia Commons Mall (LaGrange, GA)

One of the smallest malls in the state, LaGrange Mall has been struggling to gain relevance for a number of years.  Opening in 1979, the mall is also anchored by Belk.

Aiken Mall (Aiken, SC)

Aiken Mall, built in 1988, has failed to catch on.  Sears already left the mall recently and remaining anchors include Dillard's and Belk.  Dillard's came to the mall into existing spaces moving from a former acquired J.B. White.  

(Photo by Mike Kalasnik)

This Myrtle Beach mall was once a major destination, but its smaller size made it unable to compete with Coastal Grand Mall when it opened.  

Randolph Mall (Asheboro, NC)

Randolph Mall sits in an economically depressed part of North Carolina in the Uwharrie Mountains.  Dillard's recently closed their store at the mall that opened in what was originally a Woolco.  Randolph Mall has never received a major renovation since it opened in 1982.

Southgate Mall (Elizabeth City, NC)

This is a particularly unfortunate scenario since this is one of the oldest malls in North Carolina and one of the few still open to the public with the classic 1960's layout.  Belk is likely planning to relocate spurring the closing of this store.  It is possible the owners are planning to redevelop Southgate Mall into an open-air strip center.  This otherwise unremarkable store opened in what was originally a Grant's and later Rose's.

Sky City has well-covered this well-located but partially vacant timepiece.  The mall opened in 1973 with JCPenney positioned awkwardly in the back as one of four anchors.  The closing of this store will leave Belk as the sole anchor and likely will lead to closure and demolition of the mall in the very near future.  Belk probably already has plans to relocate their store.

Parkwood Mall (Wilson, NC)

A late 2000's remodel did not turn around the fortunes of this dying Eastern North Carolina mall that originally opened in the late 60's.  The mall was already closed and slated for demolition well before the announcement of this store's closing.  Sky City has not done a post on the mall yet, but took extensive photos in 2012.

(Photo by Digital Sky)

Manassas Mall (Manassas, VA)

Manassas Mall is an anomaly in the otherwise successful Northern Virginia retail market.  A marginal mall struggling to adapt to demographic change to a largely Hispanic market, JCPenney arrived in 1997 to take over a former Leggett store that did not make the conversion to Belk.  The mall lost Target in 2013 and Sears is likely to close soon with the chain.

The Marquis (Williamsburg, VA)

The closing of the JCPenney at the Marquis is particularly sad considering that this store has been open only since 2008.  As part of a lifestyle center that was never fully completed, the store will be leaving a center otherwise anchored by Target, Dick's and Best Buy

Chambersburg Mall (Chambersburg, PA)

One of the most spectacularly poorly planned malls, Crown America built an oversized mall in the middle of a pasture near I-81 outside of Chambersburg that included JCPenney.  With terrible visibility, the mall has soldiered on since 1980, but has never been updated nor truly successful.  The JCPenney left Southgate Plaza closer to downtown to join the mall replacing a Hess's and is now leaving the city entirely after being in the city at least 50 years, so the closing of JCPenney means the beginning of the end for this mall.

Susquehanna Valley Mall: Hummels Wharf, PA

With no real competition in the vicinity, one of the largest malls in the state's mountainous region is likely losing its JCPenney simply due to competition from more popular Boscov's coupled with the strain of population loss throughout the region.

Granite Run Mall: Media, PA

This struggling mall in metro Philadelphia has already been discussed for demolition and redevelopment.  Apparently the loss of JCPenney was a big step in that direction.

Nittany Mall: State College, PA

Similar circumstances to Susquehanna Valley Mall dog this mall.  As the only mall in the region, the anchor loss can be attributed to the lackluster sales in the mall itself.

York Galleria: York, PA

The bloodbath with malls in York is not unnoticed (the city had five enclosed malls at its peak), but the failure of the store is rather odd considering that York Galleria is the last major mall for the city.  Perhaps Boscov's stole their thunder, but the speculation is that possibly JCPenney may be planning to anchor the redevelopment of nearby West Manchester Mall.

Cumberland Mall: Vineland, NJ

The only other mall in the US to carry this name, the mall lacks competitors but has relative geographic isolation (for New Jersey).  Its anchors have largely been ancillary type anchors, and it is likely struggling sharing the same mall with Boscov's.