The Lexington Mall, formerly located on Richmond Road in Lexington, Kentucky, was completed in 1975 by Saul Centers. It was the second indoor shopping center in the city.
The 250-acre Ellerslie Estate was located along Old Boonesborough Road (today’s Richmond Road), which contained a 21 room mansion that was constructed in 1787.3 The residence, erected in what was then the Commonwealth of Virginia, was the oldest brick house in the county and the second-oldest in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It was constructed by Levi Todd, one of the founders of the city of Lexington and a grandfather of Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s wife.
By the 1920’s, the estate had been subdivided into parcels for industry, working class homes, and businesses. In 1946, the mansion was demolished by the water company after having been purchased by the water company several years prior.3
In 1971, John W. Waites Associates 4 constructed a 428,000 square-feet shopping center on the grounds of the Ellerslie Estate.5 The first tenants included a McAlpin’s Shoppers Choice Supermarket and a discount store, but the remainder of the complex was not completed due to the bankruptcy of the developer. Saul Subsidiary Incorporated purchased the mall in bankruptcy proceedings, completed construction and opened the indoor mall four years later in September with 48 tenants and a 295,723 square-feet McAlpin’s.
Notable tenants for the mall included McAlpin’s For The Home Store and Dawahares.7 TheMcAlpin’s Shoppers Choice Supermarket was later replaced with County Market.
In January 1984, the mall expanded with a new freestanding 72,000 square-feet County Market, which boasted 20,000 items for sale.4 In March, Heleringer’s, a Louisville furniture store, expanded into the original but now-vacated County Market and Consolidated Sales Company.8 Heleringer’s carried “furniture, carpeting, bedding, draperies, wall coverings and decorative accessories” from the mid-range to the upscale.
For the month of December 1988, the Karmelkorn Shoppe was ranked number one in sales for the nation, selling 16,250 pounds of popcorn. Its sales were topped in December 1989 when its in-store revenues increased by 30%.7
McAlpin’s renovated their department store in early 1993,6 freshening the interior with new tile, carpet, and lighting fixtures. McAlpin’s was acquired by Dillard’s in 1998, with the store renamed shortly after. In October 1993, County Market closed due to declining sales, followed by the two-screen Sony Theaters in June 1997;1 it was replaced with the Lexington Cinema Grill in September 1998.
Tenants included AllSports, Cinderella, Concord Custom Cleaners, Dave’s Holiday House, Dawahares, Diamond Gallery, Dillard’s, Dr. Klecker OD, For Friends, For Friends Too, General Nutrition, Gold Spot, Hollywood Nails, Home Accents, Knott’s Shoes, Kopper Popper, Lottery Station, Morrison’s, Musicland, Pal Optical, Pro Image, Radio Shack, Regis, Rite Aid, Roger’s Hallmark, Schwab’s Pipes n’ Stuff, Sears Portrait Studio, Shoe Sensation, Things Remembered, and Up the Creek.
By the 1990’s, other shopping malls had sprouted up in the Lexington landscape. The larger Fayette Mall on Nicholasville Road announced a major expansion project that included a new Dillard’s department store and wing.6 In reply, Steve Reach, manger of the Lexington Mall, announced that the center would undergo renovations in 1995, which was followed up with an announcement in September 1996 by manager Pat Day that a second story would be constructed to the mall for additional tenants.1
In October 1997, the first stores at Hamburg Pavilion opened at the former Hamburg Farm on the east side of the city.1 The massive shopping center, anchored by over one-million square-feet of retail, led to a sharp decline in tenants at the Lexington Mall.
The future of the Lexington Mall was in question by 1999.4 Dillard’s, the last tenant at the shopping center, closed in September 2005.2 Two out-lots, Applebee’s and Perkin’s, remained open.10
In December 1997, Home Depot, a home-improvement superstore, demolished the former County Market grocery store.4 Home Depot, which had purchased the store’s lot for $4.4 million in 1996, soon found itself embroiled in legal predicaments with the owners of the Lexington Mall, Saul Subsidiaries. Saul had wanted Home Depot to construct its store as part of the mall in the former County Market lot and, however, Home Depot constructed a free-standing store adjacent to the property instead.
Saul insisted that Home Depot violated a private, written 1969 agreement between the then-developer John W. Waites Associates and any future tenants. The Lexington Mall was, however, constructed on two pieces of property: the mall with the former McAlpin’s on one lot, and County Market, then Shoppers Choice Supermarket, on another.
In August 1998, the Kentucky appeals court agreed that Home Depot did violate the agreement, but Home Depot stated that it would request the Supreme Court to review the ruling. Saul stated that the only remedy to the situation was to demolish the freestanding store. An appeals court later found in favor of Home Depot.
On July 3, 2010, Southland Christian Church announced that it was involved in a pending deal to acquire the Lexington Mall property from Saul.11 With the purchase of the property, Southland would boast its main campus on Harrodsburg Road, a Danville location, and a third on Richmond Road. A letter of intent to purchase the property for $8.132 million was submitted to Saul on August 27 12 and the deal was closed on September 27.10 13
Out of the sale, Saul profited $3.59 million but due to an IRS regulation, did not pay taxes on the gain.10 Saul conducted a 1031 exchange and used the proceeds of the sale to purchase a shopping center in Maryland, where the company was based. As a result, the company deferred federal taxes of 15% on appreciation and taxes on depreciation. A 6% state tax was also deferred.
The Southland Christian Church hired EOP Architects to design its new campus;10 Messer Construction was retained as the construction management firm.13 Southland spent approximately $30 million to redevelop the property, which involved the demolition of the mall’s concourse and the construction of a 51,000 square-feet, 2,000-seat worship center in its place.13 15 The Dillard’s store was reused for church offices and ancillary services.12
The first phase of construction began on May 13, 2011 with the demolition of a car wash and the mall concourse, along with the gutting of Dillard’s.14 Southland Christian Church’s Richmond Road campus opened to worshippers on January 4, 2013.15