Towne Mall is an ailing shopping center in Middletown, Ohio once anchored by Elder-Beerman, Sears, and McAlpin’s.
Towne Mall was developed by Jacobs, Visconsi & Jacobs (later the Jacobs Group) of Cleveland, Ohio as the second indoor mall in Middletown, directly competing with City Centre Mart in downtown. The first store to open at Towne Mall was McAlpin’s on February 16, 1975, 6 followed by the opening of the interior concourse in a grand ceremony by television personality Bob Braun at 9:15 am on February 9, 1977. 7 Sears opened at 10 am in a ceremony that included Miss Ohio Janice Elaine Cooley, and Elder-Beerman debuted in December.
The concourse included:
- Bresler’s 33 Flavors
- Camelot Music
- Carousel Snack Bar
- Cassano’s Pizza & Seafood
- Casual Corner
- Dunhill’s Men’s Clothing
- The Earring Tree
- Fanny Farmer Candies
- 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
- Sterling Optical
- So-Fro Fabrics
- Spencer Gifts
- Susie’s Casuals
- Sycamore Shop
- Thom McAn
- Tiffany’s Bakery
- 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
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
[su_spoiler title=”Sources” icon=”caret”]
- Richter, Ed. “Towne Mall a ‘dead mall?’.” Middletown Journal 22 May 2009: n. pag. Web. 13 June 2011.
- Greber, Dave. “Warren County: Towne Mall plan ‘a tough sell’.” Middletown Journal 27 Jan. 2007: n. pag. Web. 14 June 2011.
- “$26 million Towne Mall renovation indefinitely postponed.” Middletown Journal 15 Feb. 2007: n. pag. Web. 14 June 2011.
- Heffner, Jessica. “Towne Mall gets inquiry.” Middletown Journal 25 March 2011: n. pag. Web. 14 June 2011.
- Richter, Ed. “3 concepts presented for Towne Mall redevelopment.” Middletown Journal 22 July 2009: n. pag. Web. 13 June 2011.
- “Towne Mall.” Mall Hall of Fame. N.d. Web.
- “A Very Grand Opening.” Journal News 8 Feb. 1977: 25-40. Print.
- Fasig, Lisa Biank. “Dillard’s buys Mercantile.” Cincinnati Enquirer 19 May 1998: n.p. Web.