Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remembering JB White Department Store (Updated and Corrected with New Photos)

Big city department stores throughout history tended to get the spotlight. Much of that is obvious: they are more recognizable, a symbol of that major city and they historically tended to be far more large and upscale than their small city counterparts. While it is worthwhile to remember the Marshall Fields and Rich's stores of the past, the smaller chains deserve some attention of their own. The one I am showing today is JB White...a major chain that served as the principal department store for two mid-sized cities in the South.  Founded by James Brice White in 1874, it was one of the first department stores in the country and established itself as the leading department store in Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC.

A view of the downtown store in Augusta prior to the removal of the signs on the outside.  This store operated until 1978.  Photo by C. Lewis.

Started in Augusta, GA the chain expanded to Columbia, SC prior to 1900 while maintaining its flagship in Augusta. Its flagship store was located on Broad St in Augusta, and it closed in 1978 when it was replaced with a new store at Regency Mall.  The last downtown flagship store opened in 1925 as a three story structure and was expanded to four stories in 1945 to compete with the arrival of Davison's of Atlanta [1].  White's also expanded to Aiken, SC early on as well, presumably in the 1920's.  They later went to Greenville in the 1940's (in the former Ivey-Keith location downtown) [2] .  Expansion to Spartanburg and Savannah would come much later.  In all, it was a store that was more fashion oriented than Belk, but less elegant than Rich's or Davison's in Atlanta during that period.  In other words, it was the ideal department store for both cities in that period.

An image of White's in Aiken.  This looks to have been a drawing of the store at a strip mall named Mitchell Shopping Center.  The White's would later move to a larger store at Heritage Square.  This image came from a yearbook and was submitted by Jarrett Edwards.

White's later location at Heritage Square in Aiken.  This store was demolished when the strip it was in was redeveloped for a Kroger and Home Depot.  It did not become Dillard's.  Photo by C. Lewis.

White's, unlike Rich's, was not passed on to subsequent family members after James Bryce White retired.  Instead, he sold the store in the early 1910's to HB Claflin Co., a company that owned other department stores including Lord & Taylor.  When HB Claflin later went bankrupt, the company was split into Associated Dry Goods and Mercantile Stores Company.  ADG covered larger market stores while Mercantile took the smaller markets, which White's fit cleanly into.  This began the chapter of JB White as a division of Mercantile Stores.  The Milliken Family owned the majority shares in Mercantile, so their influence would steer the direction of Mercantile's stores, including White's, throughout the remainder of its history.  Other major stores under the Mercantile banner included Castner-Knott of Nashville and Gayfer's of Mobile.  James Bryce White's retirement would see him spending the remainder of his years in Italy, but he continued to support the community that brought him his wealth through the construction of a YMCA in Augusta and the creation of a scholarship still offered each year to a student at Augusta State University [1].

This photo, apparently from the early 1990's, shows the JB White store at Dutch Square.  This is the only store I remember, and I seem to remember the logo was rather difficult to read at 6 years old.  Note that this is one of three different styles of logos used on their suburban locations.  Photo by C. Lewis.

White's first suburban expansion came in the early 1960's. Its first of such locations in Columbia was in 1961 at the original Richland Mall, a small open-air mall flanking the large two story White's. Its second came in 1963 with the opening of a two-story store at National Hills Shopping Center in otherwise small strip mall that also featured an A&P supermarket. White's also opened in a strip mall in Aiken somewhere in that same time period in Heritage Square Shopping Center.  In 1970, its largest suburban location yet opened up at Dutch Square Mall west of Columbia offering three levels of shopping as well as two suburban stores for Columbia.  By 1978, more stores were opened including Greenville at Greenville Mall and Regency Mall in Augusta.  The Regency store sadly replaced the downtown flagship.  Strangely, even though the chain was Augusta-based, the chain sought for an almost exclusive South Carolina strategy outside the city. This would not change until 1990 when JB White opened a store in Georgia at Savannah Mall.

This photo of White's at National Hills Shopping Center looks to date to the 80's.  This was such a classy logo, I can't understand why they did away with it.  Note there was no "JB" in front of this version of it.  Special thanks to Michael Lisicky for sharing this rare photo.

Unbelievably, it wasn't just Michael Lisicky that captured this store.  This photo by C. Lewis, an Augusta native, was captured in the same time period.  The store was clearly a hopping place that day!

The 1990's saw the beginning of difficulties for White's along with the rest of Mercantile. Pressure to compete in an environment of department store consolidation finally was beginning to catch up with it and the Mercantile Stores company as a whole as the chain by then had more stores than shoppers. Nevertheless, new stores were constructed all the way until the sale of the company in 1998 to Dillard's. Stores built in that period included a store in West Columbia at Columbiana Centre Mall and at Westgate Mall in Spartanburg, both opening in 1995.  White's location at Greenville Mall was also extensively renovated and expanded in 1995 as part of the enormous effort to revive what had been a dated, dumpy and dead mall.  The last store that was built opened in 1998 at Augusta Mall. JB White moved to Augusta Mall to escape the troubled and failing Regency Mall, closing its older Regency location after only 20 years. This new store was nearly identical in design to the remodel at Greenville Mall.  Not long after that store opened, the chain was sold.

Michael Lisicky also took this later photo of J.B. White with its very plain and boring 90's logo on the same store at National Hills Shopping Center.  I absolutely cannot stand their later logo, so Mercantile was definitely not appealing to customer loyalty with that atrocity.  This style logo was also used on the store at Augusta Mall that is seen on the Wikipedia photograph.

After the sale, the stores did not exactly all convert to Dillard's. The problem was that Dillard's already had a presence in the Columbia market, so three of the stores instead went to Belk. Two of those were done to prevent overlap in the same mall. Not only was Belk trying to get re-established in the Columbia market, but also Dillard's was trying to solidify its own market in the region after purchasing the entire Ivey's chain 8 years before. Dillard's was also interested in a swap with Belk for stores in the Tidewater area, so this worked out well for both parties. Because of this, while all other stores converted to Dillard's, all of the Columbia locations instead became Belk.

The National Hills Store viewed here as Dillard's.  Photo by Jarrett Edwards taken shortly before the store closed.

A couple views inside the National Hills store.  The grainy quality is because they were camera phone pics blown up from very low resolution.  Both photos by Jarrett Edwards.

White's, like Rich's, had a very loyal following. Despite it resting under the Mercantile banner, the store maintained strong ties with the community.  The store strongly supported community events, and fashion director Marion White Linder (no relation) would do charity fashion shows in support of the local children's hospital.  The chain also promoted itself with popular midnight madness sales, and their return policy was comparable to Nordstrom today and Rich's in the 1970's.  Today, the store lives on primarily through the preservation efforts of the original downtown store. In 2007, the old downtown store was converted to condominiums with parts of the old painted sign and logos intact on the building.

The former JB White store at vacant Regency Mall in Augusta in 2003.  This store has been closed for 12 years now.

This photo really thrills me!  This was the same Regency Mall store in its much better days.  The photo looks to be about 1990 and it features a clear version of their second logo.  This photo is also courtesy of C. Lewis.

The second to last generation of White's at Columbiana Centre in Columbia.  A nearly identical store was added to Westgate Mall in Spartanburg the same year this store opened.

(Known stores shown, please fill in on ones missing on this list)


Downtown/Broad Street (1925-1978)
National Hills Shopping Center (1963-1998, converted to Dillard's and closed as Dillard's in 2007)
Regency Mall (1978-1998)
Augusta Mall (1998, converted to Dillard's same year)


Heritage Square Shopping Center (Dates unknown)


Downtown (Dates unknown)
Richland Mall (1961, converted to Belk 1998)
Dutch Square Mall (1970, converted to Belk 1998)
Columbiana Centre Mall (1995, converted to Belk 1998)


Downtown (1940's-1978) [2]
Greenville Mall (1978, converted to Dillard's 1998 and demolished 2008)


Savannah Mall (1990, converted to Dillard's 1998)


[1] Lewis, C. (2010, May 1). J B White. [Electronic mail message].
[2] Anonymous blog comment posted April 30, 2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jasper Mall: Jasper, AL

The biggest factor in what drove me into blogging about malls and dead stores is the hope of recapturing the way these places looked in my childhood.  While most malls these days have been disappointingly been renovated multiple times, a scant few maintain their original goodness.  One of these is an easy to overlook mall in the small city of Jasper, AL.  Jasper Mall is easy to overlook for the obvious reasons that it is independently operated, located in a very small city and is also a very tiny mall itself.  Anywhere else, it would not last any time at all but it is actually a thriving mall.

Located on US 78 north of the downtown, the mall sits in the middle of the original by-pass route around the city, which evolved into an extensive retail corridor in the 1980's.  Originally, it was anchored only by JCPenney and Kmart when it opened in 1983.  No changes of any kind happened to the mall until recently when Belk strangely added a new store to the back of the mall on what had obviously been previously a rear entrance.  Another oddity to the mall is that it seems to have one of the few remaining operational Garfield's Restaurants: a regional chain serving malls in smaller markets that I had thought was completely out of business.  It is overall very dark inside, but it is a welcome sight for an 80's baby that was raised in dark, moody malls.

A view of the left front entrance corridor.  This actually goes straight back dissected with the Kmart entrance to the left and main mall to the right.  Since Kmart mall entrances tend to orient themselves directly to the mall itself, entrances to them double as mall entrances.  The Kmart at Bradley Square Mall in Cleveland, TN is the same way.  The first photo shows early 80's vintage brick planters in front of the JCPenney.

Beginning down the mall would be like walking into the 80's except for the stores, which clearly are more modern versions of themselves.  Very little natural light is found in any part of the mall.

Here I am approaching center court.

I decided to throw in some detail of the planter.

Since the mall is apparently a living, and actually thriving, museum of 80's architecture, the mall features multiple shades and patterns of light and dark brown linoleum tiles throughout.  Interspersed between them are many brick planters surrounded by benches as well as a few sunken seating areas as well.  The mall also has a continuous slope uphill from Kmart to JCPenney as well as a slightly staggered concourse, which gives the mall presence making it feel larger than it really is.  Any renovation to a lighter, brighter mall would actually make the mall look small and dumpy.  The mall itself sits near the top of the hill with the back parking lot carved deep into the hillside.  The area it is located in is actually quite mountainous, and it reminds me a lot of more familiar Jasper, GA.

A look at the Belk wing, which clearly predates the Belk store.  I assume this originally led to a back entrance.  I wonder how much adding Belk here helped.  It seemed to make no difference in the middle Georgia malls having both Belk and JCPenney.

Belk's gleaming mall entrance with obviously a home store addition on the left and a closed Sound Shop music store on the right.

Looking back from Belk to center court.  The front main entrance is in the background.

The front main entrance features one of the few Garfield's Restaurant locations still open for business.  All of the others I have seen were closed including one at Quintard Mall in Oxford.

I am looking back here through center court.  Chick-Fil-A to the left is in the foreground, the Belk sign can be made out in the background and apparently a new store is in progress on the right.  An American Eagle would be nice.  I'm sure the teenagers here aren't the most pleased by the fact that most stores here are lower end.

Conventional wisdom with malls says that for a mall to survive it must be updated continuously.  However, this mall proves that is only true if there is competition nearby.  That is definitely not the case with Jasper Mall, and the mall was not only busy but full of stores.  In contrast, several smaller malls I visited in middle Georgia that got a massive renovation recently looked to be emptying out.  Perhaps adding Belk made all the difference, but most of all it is the fact it is a mall covering a fairly large region under-represented by retail.  It is also far enough from Birmingham and even further from its prime retail corridor east of the city.  However, only time will tell how much the completion of I-22 into Birmingham will have on the mall.  I-22, currently a "Future" interstate moved much of the major traffic away from the mall, and is currently complete other than a direct connection to I-65 in Birmingham.  Such changes will likely bring major growth to the Jasper area as well as the possibility of another major shopping center closer to the new interstate, but for now everything looks very safe for the 27 year old mall.

It seems the only natural light comes from these elusive skylights and the filtered light through the checkered fixtures.

A look at the JCPenney wing looks almost like an 80's postcard except for the edge of the kiosk on the left.  I love it (except the kiosk).

A little closer to JCPenney, it looks like an old Foot Locker has been converted to a mom 'n' pop operation.  I honestly do not recall any major shoe stores in the mall unless Payless was there somewhere, but you can find plenty of jewelry stores there.

I really got a kick out of the court in front of JCPenney.  Note the sunken seating area in the middle.

The sunken seating area and planters in front of JCPenney are shown in greater detail.  It sure beats a flat spot with those ugly shiny beige floor tiles, over-sized flower pots and tacky chairs.  I hope the mall owners never take this away...this is still attractive!

The area around Jasper itself is strange enough.  While the area features outdoor tourism in the nearby Bankhead National Forest, most of the area is predominately rural in nature.  It is also dubiously known for its violent weather including several extremely violent tornado outbreaks which likely discouraged many people from moving there.  Several F4 and F5 tornadoes have hit in or near the area in recent history.  It has also been insulated from sprawl development from Birmingham since most of the growth has moved east/southeast instead of northwest.  Nevertheless, the area is still quite appealing with its big rolling hills and valleys, proximity to nearby hemlock-filled canyons in Bankhead Forest, recreation on Lewis Smith Lake and fast, easy access between Birmingham and Memphis.  Vacation homes dot the landscape north of Jasper up towards Smith Lake.  In all, though, it reminds me a lot of northwestern Georgia about 20 years ago with its blend of rugged scenery, rural back country and small urban areas.

A look down the Kmart wing with three shades of floor tiles featured here.  Not bad.

Kmart's mall entrance features a checkerboard of filtered light above, angular planters and bench seats.  These look like the photos I saw of University Mall in Tuscaloosa in its early days.  I like it still.

Detail of one of the built-in wooden bench seats.

Another view of same court in relation to its rear entrance and adjacent shop (Rue 21).

A look down the back entrance corridor, which serves as a dual mall entrance and Kmart entrance.  Long, empty mall entrance corridors have wisely been taken out of modern mall design.

In all, if you are looking for a big mall with a big choice of higher end stores, then you probably will not like Jasper Mall much.  However, if you live in a small town and want some place to hang out with a few decent stores then you will probably like Jasper Mall.  If you are like me and looking for a mall that looks like the early 1980's over 25 years later, then you will absolutely love Jasper Mall.  For me, personally, I tend to find satisfaction in these small town malls just for the fact they add something interesting to the outlying areas and are rather quaint through their retention of vintage design elements and compact design.  I certainly wish that modern store chains would do more to enhance these junior malls, though, by tacking on to them instead of spreading all over the area killing them in the process. It is just my hope that they never change the way it looks.  While it may not hold a candle to any mall in Birmingham, it is still fun to visit places like this especially when they look the way they were originally intended.  If only the big city malls would do the same instead of embracing the antiseptic hospital-like appearance they love today.

Kmart/Mall entrance from the front of the mall.  At least Kmart, unlike Wal-Mart, tries to incorporate their stores into the malls they're in.

Back entrance to the mall and Kmart from the outside.  This enters the "long, empty corridor" I mentioned in a photo above.

Front entrance to the mall with Garfield's on the right.  The Belk sign is added to recognize its hidden position in the mall.

JCPenney here actually looks pretty decent compared to their stores from 1980.  It is tasteful.

Belk here is the afterthought featuring a stucco-clad Southern-style canopy.  It seems modern Belk stores really try to look like Deep South on a budget.

Jasper Mall's road sign.  No comment really.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Riverchase Galleria: Hoover, AL

Not too long ago, Labelscar did a post on Riverchase Galleria.  For me, I was reluctant to cover a mall they had already done, but since I am covering Birmingham in general, others encouraged me to cover it as well.  I guess it does not hurt to have a second set of photos of anything, because I photographed pretty much every little angle of this mall.  While it definitely manifests the effects of consolidations, excessive competition and a rocky economy, this mall has nothing to be ashamed of unlike quite a few these days.  At the time it was built in 1986, it was probably one of the largest malls in the country and a unique one at that.

What makes Riverchase Galleria stand apart is that it is a mall that incorporated two mid rise hotels into its design.  In other words, they didn't just want it to be a mall: they wanted it to be a major tourist destination.  On top of that, the mall incorporated four anchors and 1.2 million square feet...a very large mall for that time.  Original anchors included Rich's, JCPenney, Pizitz and Parisian.  The following year, Macy's, then part of R.H. Macy, built onto the front of the mall under the Galleria Tower as a three level store...the first in Alabama meaning previous parent Davison's of Atlanta had never had a presence in the state.  Pizitz, however, was very short-lived as it was converted to McRae's the same year Macy's joined the mall.  However, the Pizitz family still owned the building McRae's moved into despite selling the store operations to them.  In all, this was a pretty solid lineup for a moderately upscale mall.  No mall in the region had Rich's, Pizitz and Parisian all together like that before.

The first photo is a view from the small third level balcony over the center court, food court and view through the glass of the Winfrey Hotel in the background.  The second photo is a typical escalator in the mall.

An ad in the mall was advertising Alpharetta, GA.  That is too funny.  What are they saying?  You can do better than this place?  Please fill me in on this!

A typical mall concourse is pretty typical mid-80's as well.  Outside of center court, I wouldn't call the skylights spectacular.  This reminds me a bit of Town Center at Cobb in Kennesaw, GA.

A map of how it all comes together today.  The mall was definitely Belked for sure!

If not for the hotel, office tower and the amazing huge all-glass atrium throughout, this otherwise would probably be just another conventional large 80's mall.  Most of the mall is on two levels, and the center is shaped overall in a simple Y fashion with a big food court on the lower level in the center.  The mall does, however, contain many smaller wings including one to the Winfrey Hotel and two for Parisian.  A small third level overlooking the food court also exists providing access to the office towers as well as offering an overlook.  All of the anchors are multi-level, and the 1990's brought significant expansion to the mall, which was something that unfortunately negatively affected other malls in the area.  1995 would see Parisian greatly expand its store in the mall into a new expansion that gave the store an oblong design as well as the fore mentioned two mall entrances on separate wings.  In 1996, Sears would close at tiny now-demolished Todds Mall in Vestavia Hills to join the mall along with a new wing.  These changes pushed the mall from four to six anchors and 1.2 to 1.9 million square feet.  This would prove to be the peak of the mall's success as it firmly establish itself as not only a premier shopping destination in Alabama, but also much of the Southeast.

The skylights make the court in the is impressive how this much glass is held up without a system of trusses.

Looking from center court into the more typical parts of the mall.

This is bound to look pretty scary during a severe thunderstorm.  Thunderstorms had rumbled through before I took these photos.  Note the third level on the left.  The former Macy's mall entrance was on the two levels below that.

Looking straight on at the old Macy's/Proffitt's/Belk entrance and the lower levels of the office tower.  The office tower here is accessible from the third level visible here.

Department store consolidation proved to be challenging for the mall after 2000.  With six anchors, the mall found itself somewhat overbuilt for a shrinking anchor market.  Macy's merger with Rich's was when things got problematic.  When Macy's closed and moved into the old Rich's, apparently Dillard's was not invited to the party.  Instead, of all things, Proffitt's of Maryville, TN opened up in the old Macy's in 2004 after the subsequent closure of the original 1987 Macy's.  This store was there so briefly that if you blinked you would miss it much like Pizitz originally.  With Saks, Inc. then owning three positions in the mall, they then conveniently closed McRae's, which was the smallest and least visible of all of the mall's anchors.  This move angered the Pizitz family who still owned the building.  Apparently, the McRae's had a major roof leak problem that the Pizitz family, once the head of Alabama's largest regional department store, did not address and Saks, Inc. was unwilling to deal with.  The result was that Saks, Inc was smacked with a lawsuit apparently for breaking terms of their lease.

A view of the upper level entrance wing between Belk Men's (former McRae's/Pizitz) and Macy's (former Rich's).

Looking along the same entrance wing.

A view of the mall near a smaller court area from the second level.

A view from the third level balcony toward JCPenney.  This was kinda cool.  Third levels in mall are rare in any form.

The wing connecting the center court to Winfrey Hotel lacked the grandeur of the other parts.

When Belk came along, the lawsuit simply fell into Belk's hands.  Belk opened in the former Macy's/Proffitt's with no intentions of opening in the old McRae's initially.  Apparently, the agreement was settled when Belk ultimately opened a Home store in the upper level of the old Pizitz/McRae's while moving their store otherwise to the former Parisian.  Belk moved again into the old Parisian since they bought them out the same year.  Apparently, Belk decided that the old Parisian was a more appealing store than the old Macy's, so by 2007 the 20 year-old Macy's would finally go dark.  Today, this leaves 1 1/2 anchors in the mall dark in a mall designed for far more department store anchors than are typically available today.  In a reasonable scenario, Dillard's would take up the old Pizitz/McRae's spot, but so far that has obviously not been considered.  The original Macy's, however, awaits a Nordstrom.  It is rumored that Nordstrom plans to open in that spot, and the Nordstrom would be the first in the state.  No doubt if this works out this will be a huge deal.  Apparently the success of the Saks Fifth Avenue at the Summit has created the right conditions for a further upscaling of Alabama's (and one of the South's) largest mall.  Whether they will use the existing Macy's building or not is unknown, however.

One of the three entrances to the main Belk store (former Parisian).

The second entrance to the main Belk store (former Parisian).  This is probably the original 1986 store in lieu of the 1995 addition.

Here is the third entrance to the main Belk in the wing next to Winfrey Hotel's entrance.  Behind me (not pictured) is the side entrance to Belk Men's (former McRae's/Pizitz).

Nothing too terribly unusual about JCPenney right here from the inside.

Since Sears and Macy's make up different ends of a Y-shaped split, these overhead signs are in place.  These remind me of similar found all over Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah, GA.

Macy's entrance is the most elegant.  It was Rich's up until 2003, and their 80's designs inside and out were elegant and very cutting edge.  I couldn't say the same for their stores from the 1990's on.

Sears...meh...very cookie-cutter.

In all, while not my favorite mall design-wise, it is a truly massive and impressive structure in every way.  Its glass skylights are the most expansive and open I have ever encountered giving the mall an almost outdoor feel, and its massive size is almost overwhelming.  The two towers over the mall also make the mall feel like it is part of a huge downtown instead of a typical suburban center...a rare and unique arrangement in malls at any point.  Few malls have ever incorporated either an office tower or hotel, much less both, into its design like Riverchase has.  Its array of six huge anchors, two mid-rise towers. a large food court and such an enormous amount of stores speaks of optimism and excess we may never see again.  It was a time when malls seemed to be in a race to be the biggest and the best...finally culminating with a few monoliths in the 90's such as Mall of America and many leaner versions such as Mall of Georgia.  It is also still a traditional mall in every sense...maintaining its size without the trendy "lifestyle" addition that flanks many malls today including later-built Mall of Georgia.

Macy's original store  The huge arched design over the small doors was pretty stark indeed.  This is still a pretty brutalist three-level store here I must say.

JCPenney's store here was apparently cloned for Asheville Mall.  The designs are identical pretty much.

The old Parisian, now Belk, was kinda neat.  Of all the anchors, this one had the most appealing and eye-catching design features while still keeping it simple.  Winfrey Hotel is to the left.

Sorry this picture came out blurry.  The McRae's/Pizitz here was all about arches as well.  

This had to be one of the best designs for a Rich's department store ever.  It is so classy looking.  The Macy's logo intrigues me.  It actually looks like it must have come off of its original 1987 store and was replaced on the old Rich's.  It is definitely not the newer "red star" logo, and this must have been done at the request of mall owners.  Was the original Rich's sign here white?  I never saw this store with Rich's nor have I ever seen any photos of it.

I kinda figured Sears arrived fashionably late when I saw this store.  It opened here in 1996 and is a match to the store at Arbor Place Mall in Douglasville, GA that was built in 1999.

While the mall today may seem excessive, it brought Birmingham a true big city shopping experience that most other malls in the city never offered.  With exception of two-level Century Plaza and the peculiar Brookwood, all other malls in the city were not only quite small but also plain.  Their success relied on the lack of competition from a major shopping destination like Riverchase.  Perhaps Eastwood, West Lake, Century Plaza, Todds Mall and even the Five Points West mall addition might still be around today if this mall would never have been built, but you can be sure that local patrons would be disenchanted with what they would see as outdated, second-rate and outmoded offerings.  This is a problem that would have led to Birmingham residents skipping the city altogether to go to Atlanta instead.  Local developer Jim Wilson, who originally built Riverchase, was not about to let that happen.

I did manage a night shot in 2007 of the Belk store at Riverchase when it was still Parisian.  I should have done more.

This older photo from 2005 I believe came from Birmingham's newspaper, but I am not positive who to credit this to.  This shows McRae's at the mall after it closed. 

Indeed, it seems that Birmingham has been moving full speed ahead both before and since.  Even today, only Riverchase and Brookwood remain viable malls in the city as both now have to deal with another Birmingham first...the lifestyle center.  Both malls today compete with tony The Summit in Mountain Brook and the newer Pinnacle at Tutwiler Farm while Western Hills Mall seems to be making the last stand in the older suburban retail scene.  Even Riverchase may have to change soon to adapt to a market far different than the mall was when it opened in 1986.  I would expect the future to bring a demolition of one or more anchors and possibly the creation of a lifestyle-type addition in the place of those anchors.  Perhaps the mall may even be turned inside out with the roof removed and replaced with an outdoor plaza.  Time will tell, but for now the mall is a stunning monument to the runaway popularity of the mall era.