Amazon.com has been called the killer of the American indoor shopping mall in countless articles. But it’s been no secret that traditional shopping centers have been struggling long before the advent of online shopping, with the United States boasting more square feet of retail than any other developed nation by far. It’s with some irony that Amazon.com is building new fulfillment centers on the grounds of two dead malls.
Randall Park Mall is one of those dead and now demolished indoor shopping centers. Once the largest in the United States, it gradually fell victim to other indoor malls and lifestyle centers, the latter which mixed retail with other uses to attract a wider variety of visitors. It was recently announced that what remained would be demolished for an Amazon.com fulfillment and distribution center, delivering goods that were once mainstays in malls to people’s doorsteps.
As part of the Amazon.com project, the long abandoned Holiday Inn will be demolished. Closed for some 20 years, it had become a hub of dead animals and drug activity. The combined demolitions of the mall and hotel will give a significant boost the village of Randall Park, once one of the nicest middle-class suburbs of Cleveland, a shot at becoming a destination and a decent place to live once again.
Not far away is the also-dead Euclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio. Located in an industrial area between two residential zones, it, too, died a slow death. And like Randall Park Mall, it, too, will be replaced by an Amazon.com fulfillment and distribution center.
The future of other malls is uncertain, at least in the Cleveland metropolitan area. The failed University Square mall, a redevelopment of an earlier indoor mall, is slated to be reconstructed into a vibrant mixed-use town center with apartments, retail and offices. Severance Town Center, another redevelopment of an earlier indoor mall, is struggling to hold tenants after Wal-Mart vacated. Richmond Town Square is emptying out at a rapid pace and is likely on its way to becoming another dead mall. And downtown Cleveland’s Terminal Tower is all but empty.
Not all of these dying or dead malls can be converted into Amazon.com fulfillment centers, but a significant number of them can be rebuilt into vibrant town centers that cater to more than the shopper — and include residential and office components. Others can be razed for new industrial lots to lure in manufacturing and distributing hubs.
What the future holds is often in the hands of outside forces but change is happening and happening quick.