Towne Mall - Abandoned by Sherman Cahal

Towne Mall

Towne Mall is an ailing shopping center in Middletown, Ohio anchored by Elder-Beerman, Sears, Gabes, and Burlington.


History

Towne Mall was developed by Jacobs, Visconsi and Jacobs (later Jacobs Group) of Cleveland, Ohio. It was planned to be the second indoor mall in the city, competing with City Centre Mart in downtown.

The first store at Towne Mall to open was McAlpin’s on February 16, 1975.6 The shopping center’s concourse was then constructed, opening in a grand ceremony by television personality Bob Braun at 9:15 am on February 9, 1977.7 The Sears anchor opened at 10 am in a ceremony that included Miss Ohio Janice Elaine Cooley. The Elder-Beerman department store debuted in December. The concourse included:

  • Bottomhalf
  • Bresler’s 33 Flavors
  • Camelot Music
  • Carousel Snack Bar
  • Cassano’s Pizza & Seafood
  • Casual Corner
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Dunhill’s Men’s Clothing
  • The Earring Tree
  • Fanny Farmer Candies
  • Flowerama
  • Foxmoor Women’s Apparel
  • The Gap
  • General Nutrition Center
  • Hickory Farms of Ohio
  • Hot Sam Pretzels
  • Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby
  • J.B. Robinson Jewelers
  • Jean Nicole Women’s Apparel
  • Kinney Shoes
  • The Limited
  • Litwin Diamond Cutters
  • Lomark Drugs
  • Lowrey Organ Center
  • Nobil’s Shoe Shoppe
  • Paul Harris
  • Plaza-U Women’s Apparel
  • Radio Shack
  • Silverman’s
  • Sterling Optical
  • So-Fro Fabrics
  • Spencer Gifts
  • Susie’s Casuals
  • Sycamore Shop
  • Thom McAn
  • Tiffany’s Bakery
  • Waldenbooks
  • World Bazaar

On May 18, 1998, Dillard’s agreed to acquire Mercantile Stores Company in a $2.9 billion deal.8 McAlpin’s, a subsidiary of Mercantile Stores, was renamed to Dillard’s in August.6

In January 2001, Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates acquired the holdings of the Jacobs Group.6

Redevelopment

By the early 2000’s, Towne Mall’s concourse was nearly vacant due to the development of a nearby Meijer, Target, and Wal-Mart. In 2009, CBL floated plans to redevelop the property as an open-air “lifestyle center.”1 The company asked for funding from the city and county towards the project. It would require the demolition of the interior concourse and remodeling of the anchors. In the concourse’s place would be a $26 million outdoor mall.

The proposal hit financial hurdles.2 The county balked at the request for $6 million in tax incentives. The project was shelved by CBL.1 3

The Middletown Economic Development Department shared its three concepts for the mall in July 2009.5 Using the city’s master plan for the area, it showed three well-received proposals

  • Proposal 1: Keep one anchor, develop new outlots, and construct a new central park.
  • Proposal 2: Tear down Towne Mall and create a new urbanist town center with interconnected streets. Include retail, restaurant, and office space, along with upper-level residences.
  • Proposal 3: Redevelop Towne Mall into a mixed-use center and include retail buildings, outlots, and multi-family housing.

In October 2012, S.A. Mary and Bless Properties purchased Towne Mall and the vacant Dillard’s department store.6 The Elder-Beerman building was later purchased. The new owners proposed a $20 million to $25 million rehabilitation of the center, going as far as to rename the mall Towne Mall Galleria. The renovation project was stalled as newer shopping centers opened in the region, including Bridgewater Falls to the west, Cincinnati Premium Outlets to the south, and Austin Landing to the north.

The shopping center did see the arrival of two new tenants in 2015. Half of the former Dillard’s space was renovated for Burlington, which opened on March 13 while the other half was renovated for Gabe’s, which opened on October 10.6

Sources

4 Comments

  1. The Towne mall is starting to come back to life. There are a lot of new stores in there. The community needs to get behind it again and start going in and shop! I shop there a lot, about once a week in there.

  2. Why is the Towne Mall said to be located in Franklin when it’s really in Middletown? The Towne Mall, Meijer, Kroger Marketplace etc. are nowhere near Franklin! That area is Middletown, period. Does the fact that this area is “considered” Franklin mean that Franklin/ Warren County get Middletonian’s tax dollars spent at these locations? BS!

  3. I worked in this little hell hole back when it opened. It was located in a town that no longer exists (Middletown absorbed it – a fact not mentioned here) because they suddenly had a reasonable tax base.

    Like most ‘malls’ throughout the States, it has been in decline for many, many years. Greed and an unwillingness to change with the times or SAVE some of the 100’s of millions they made over the years so they could REDO THEIR OWN PROPERTIES got them in the end.

    A proper place to be gotten, judging how they treated others.

    They deserve whatever they get.

Submit a comment