The story of a forgotten America.

Tri-County Mall

Tri-County Mall was an enclosed shopping mall in Springdale, Ohio. It opened in 1960 as an open-air shopping center and enclosed in 1967-68. Tri-County is being redeveloped into a massive mixed-use residential and commercial project that will leave portions of the original mall intact.


Meyerhoff & Associates, a real estate firm that had constructed shopping and residential properties in Baltimore, Maryland, announced plans for Tri-County Center in 1959. 1 47 50 The plans called for an open-air shopping center designed by Kenneth Cameron Miller and anchored by two Cincinnati-based department stores: John Shillito Company (Shillito’s) and H. & S. Pogue (Pogue’s), along with a Kroger supermarket, S.S. Kresge 5-and-10 store, and Gray Drug. It would be prominently located in the emerging Cincinnati suburb of Springdale along Interstate 275 which was under construction. 2 Groundbreaking for the 75-acre center was held in July 1959. 3

Tri-County Mall opened at the cost of $25 million on September 26, 1960, 4 48 with opening ceremonies including performances by the Princeton High School band, speeches by dignitaries of Shillito’s and Pogue’s, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Meyerhoff and the mayor of Springdale. 49 At the time of its opening, the mall featured 51 stores in 500,000 square feet of space with 4,000 parking spaces surrounded by elaborate landscaping comprising 2,900 plants designed by Martin Funnell of Baltimore. 4 47 It was the largest development by Meyerhoff 47 with had room to expand to include 800,000 square feet of space and 5,500 parking spaces. 50

A fourth-floor expansion to Shillito’s was opened on September 24, 1962, 51 which allowed the first floor to be dedicated to discounted merchandise, a concept that was referred to as the “basement store.” 5

Sears opened as the third anchor store on May 4, 1967. 6 The 142,300 square-foot, two-story building, designed by Dunlap & Esgar of Chicago, was a prototype for the department store as it included a larger variety of merchandise and services than other Sears stores, including automotive repair and the Coffee House restaurant. 6 7 The new Sears store was connected to the rest of Tri-County with a new enclosed wing that opened in August. 52 Designed by Baxter, Hodell, Donnelly & Preston, 8 54 it featured fountains, tropical plants, and palm trees, along with antique lights and skylights, and tenants such as Casual Corner, Hickory Farms, Lane Bryant, Spencer Gifts, Waldenbooks, and Wurlitzer, 8 53 bringing to the mall 69 stores and 925,000 square feet. 53 The rest of the complex was enclosed by March 1968 featuring decor similar to the circa 1967 expansion 9 54 at which point Tri-County Center was referred to as Tri-County Mall.

Rendering of the enclosed portion of Tri-County Mall circa 1968. Source: Baxter, Hodell, Donnelly & Preston.

In September 1971, renovations and expansion to the Pogue’s store were completed. 10 The project entailed remodeling the interior with contemporary patterns and colors and expanding upward with a third story to house the home furnishings and beauty salon departments. Additional renovations were finished in September 1976 that entailed redecorating the main mall entrance with earth tones, and adding decorative fountains and eight kiosk shops. 11

Monumental Properties, the name which Meyerhoff & Associates’s real estate division had assumed in 1970, sold Tri-County Mall to Equitable Life Insurance for $34 million in 1979. 13 It was the largest real estate transaction in the nation. 56

Federated Department Stores merged the John Shillito Company with the Dayton-based Rike Kumler Company (Rike’s) to form Shillito-Rike’s in 1982 14 which was then merged into Columbus-based Lazarus in 1986. 15 Pogue’s parent company, Associated Dry Goods, merged the chain with Indianapolis-based L. S. Ayres in 1984. 16 A food court with nine restaurants opened near the main entrance to Tri-County in September 1985, which at the time consisted of 983,862 square feet of space with 94 tenants. 17

After the May Company acquired Associated Dry Goods in 1986, the L. S. Ayres store at Tri-County (along with the downtown, Kenwood Towne Centre, and Northgate locations) was closed in June 1988 because of profitability concerns. 18 The building was repurposed for JCPenny in September, which resulted in the closure of a store in Hamilton. 20 21 22

Tri-County underwent an $85 million expansion and renovation in 1988-90 after a second level was added atop the existing enclosed portion of the shopping center. 56 A foundation was added to the center court, 66 new storefronts were added, and the food court was relocated to a larger location by Sears. The expansion and renovation project was dedicated on October 25, 1990.

Lazarus remodeled their store at the cost of $14.2 million in 1991-92 which entailed the construction of a new atrium, a pedestrian bridge to a 2,600-space parking garage, adding new departments, and relocating and renovating several sales departments. 19 23 55 It sought to compete with the McAlpin’s store that was being planned after Federated, Lazarus’ parent company, consented to the new department store’s construction because of its lease agreement. 19 55

A new two-story, 240,000 square foot McAlpin’s department store was opened to shoppers on August 6, 1992, which was also the 100th department store to be opened by parent company Mercantile Stores Company. 57 The $25 million, three-story store was designed by Baxter, Hodell, Donnelly & Preston, the same architectural firm that handled the mall’s initial enclosure in 1967. 24 57 By the mid-1990s, Tri-County’s 360,000 square feet of space was 90% leased. 25 26

Equitable Life Insurance put Tri-County and several other properties up for sale in December 1996, 27 citing concerns of over-saturation in the American retail sector. 25 It was sold to the O’Connor Group for $147 million in July 1997. In 1998, Dillard’s acquired Mercantile Stores which resulted in the McAlpin’s store being rebranded as Dillard’s. 28

Blackstone Group, a real estate firm based out of New York, acquired the mall from the O’Connor Group in 2002 29 which was then sold to Thor Equities for $180 million in February 2005. 30 58 The frequent ownership turnover and a lack of updates began to have a negative impact on the mall’s tenancy rates.

In 2003, Federated merged Lazarus into Macy’s with both stores rebranded as Lazarus-Macy’s, becoming just Macy’s in 2005. 31 JCPenny closed its Tri-County location in July 2005 32 58 and the former anchor building was remodeled to serve as a new mall entrance and include several new mall stores including Ethan Allen and a BJ’s restaurant. 33

In May 2006, a joint venture of Coventry Real Estate and Developers Diversified Realty purchased Tri-County Mall, 34 which continued to decline because of an economic recession during the Great Recession, a surplus of retail space in the area caused by Northgate and Forest Fair shopping centers, and petty crime. 35 36 38 Continuing on the revolving door of owners, the mall was acquired out of foreclosure by the SingHaiyi Group, a real estate firm based in Singapore, in July 2013 for $45 million. 37 40

Dillard’s downgraded its store to a clearance center for overstock and unsold merchandise in the fall of 2013 39 40 59 before closing in 2015 in favor of a new store at Liberty Center. 40 SingHaiyi proposed the addition of new restaurants and stores on outparcels while converting portions of the mall into offices, a hotel, and other non-retail uses. 41 42 It also proposed replacing the closed Dillard’s building with a dine-in theater and luring Kohl’s away from Forest Fair Village. 42 None of the redevelopment proposals came to fruition.

Macy’s added its Backstage discount concept at its Tri-County location in April 2018 in a bid to compete with TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. 42 Sears closed its store in September after disclosing a $424 million first-quarter loss for the ailing chain, 39 which was followed by the closure of Macy’s on March 31, 2021, as part of a restructuring plan amid a long-term sales slump. 43

Shillito’s / Shillito-Rike’s / Lazarus / Lazarus-Macy’s / Macy’s1960 / 1982 / 1986 / 2003 / 20052021
Pogue’s / L. S. Ayres / JCPenny1960 / 1984 / 19882005
S.S. Kresge1960?
McAlpin’s / Dillard’s1992 / 19982015

MarketSpace Capital and Park Harbor Capital purchased the ailing Tri-County Mall in March 2022 45 61 62 with the goal of redeveloping the site at the cost of $1 billion. 60 The companies proposed building 2,600 residences, music venues, retail, restaurants, and offices, recreation amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, and rock climbing walls, and a 120,000 square foot STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Institute for the Princeton School District. 62

The project, tentatively titled Artisan Village, is slated to be completed in five phases over ten years. 62 Phase 1, scheduled to begin by the end of 2022, will include 450 multi-family apartments, 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, and 110,000 square feet of recreational space. In preparation for the project, the interior concourse of the mall was closed on May 15. 46




  1. Havlin, Dick. “Center is a ‘giant’ with 50 stores.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 Feb. 1959, p. 8.
  2. “The Tri-County Center.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 Feb. 1959. p. 2H.
  3. “Tri-County work starts next week.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 18 Jul. 1959, p. 6B.
  4. “‘Opening Day’ festivities at Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 Oct. 1960, p. 50.
  5. “A store within a store, Tri-County lower level.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 Sept. 1962, p. 34.
  6. “Sears opens at Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 May 1967, p. 5.
  7. “Cincinnati ‘model city’ for Sears.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 Apr. 1967, p. 7D.
  8. “Enclosed, air-conditioned wing opened at T. C.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 24 Sept. 1967, p. 2.
  9. “Tri-County’s versatile mall enclosure now ready.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 Mar. 1968, p. 4.
  10. “New Tri-County Pogue’s is glamorous, colorful, exciting!” Cincinnati Enquirer, 26 Sept. 1971, p. 4.
  11. “New main entrance for Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 Sept. 1976, p. 2.
  12. “New location for Hader Hardware.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 Sept. 1976, p. 10.
  13. “Tri-County bought by Equitable.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 Aug. 1979, p. G9.
  14. Buckhout, Wayne. “Federated combines Shillito’s, Rike’s.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 Apr. 1982, p. C9.
  15. Culpepper, Mary Kay, and Sara Pearce. “Hello Columbus: Lazarus shows Cincinnati shoppers what’s in store.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 Feb. 1986, p. E1.
  16. Munsen, Rosemary. “Recalling the name about to change.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 Oct. 1984, pp. B1, B4.
  17. “Tri-County Mall celebrates 25 years of success.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 14 Aug. 1985, p. B5.
  18. “Penney purchases Ayres sites.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 Jun. 1988, pp. A1, A10.
  19. Green, Richard. “New McAlpin’s store to anchor Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 May 1990, p. E10.
  20. “Penney’s negotiating on Ayres locations.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 May 1988, p. B5.
  21. Agnew, Ronnie. “Studies guided Penney’s to expand.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 Jun. 1988, p. B8. 
  22. Gentry, Gina M. “Closing of store brings to an end a retailing era.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 Jun. 1988, p. B8.
  23. Byczkowski, John J. “Lazarus knocking down the walls.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 Sept. 1991, p. B5.
  24. “Tri-County McAlpin’s offers convenience, quality service.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 Aug. 1992, p. D2.
  25. Ward, Leah Beth. “Tri-County Mall sold for $147M.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 Jul. 1997, p. B10.
  26. Monk, Dan, and Andy Hemmer. “Mall deal richest in decade.” Cincinnati Business Journal, 7 Jul. 1997.
  27. Fasig, Lisa Biank. “Tri-County’s biggest sale?” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 Dec. 1996, p. I1.
  28. Fasig, Lisa Biank. “Dillard’s buys Mercantile.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 May 1998, pp. A1, A9.
  29. Alltucker, Ken  (October 13, 2002). “NY firm seeking to buy Tri-County Mall in $425M deal.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 13 Oct. 2002, p. D1.
  30. Boyer, Mike. “Tri-County Mall purchased.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 Feb. 2005, pp. D1, D2.
  31. Eckberg, John. “Lazarus upgrading more than its name.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 26 Feb. 2005. pp. D1, D2.
  32. Boyer, Mike. “J. C. Penney leaving Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 May 2005, pp. D1, D2.
  33. Boyer, Mike. “Tri-County remake keys on new entrance.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 12 Mar. 2006, p. E2.
  34. “Coventry, Developers Venture Pays $226Mln for 3 Retail Properties”. CR News. May 18, 2006.
  35. Tweh, Bowdeya. “Tri-County Mall launching $35M improvement project.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 4 Jun. 2015.
  36. “No consensus on future of Tri-County Mall.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 12 Feb. 2014.
  37. “SingHaiyi to buy 100% of Tri-County Mall for US$45 mil.” The Edge Markets, 30 Sept. 2013.
  38. Baverman, Laura. “With retailers closing, Tri-County faces trying times.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 Feb. 2009, pp. G1-G2.
  39. Schwartzberg, Eric. “Tri-County Mall continues re-development efforts as another anchor retailer prepares to close.” Journal-News [Hamilton], 8 Jun. 2018.
  40. Tweh, Bowdeya. “Dillard’s closing Tri-County clearance center.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 Aug. 2015.
  41. Bresnahan, Mary. “Tri-County Mall retools retail plan.” Cincinnati Business Courier, 25 Apr. 2017.
  42. Monk, Dan. “Tri-County Mall lands Cincinnati’s first Backstage store by Macy’s Inc.” WCPO, 23 Mar. 2018.
  43. “Macy’s Inc. Will close Tri-County Mall store by April.” WCPO, 6 Jan. 2021.
  44. “Springdale approves plan for massive redevelopment of Tri-County Mall.” Fox 19. 21 Dec. 2021.
  45. “Tri-County Mall sale finalized, hurdle cleared for $1B massive redevelopment.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 Mar. 2022.
  46. “Tri-County Mall announces closing date ahead of redevelopment project.” WLWT, 29 Mar. 2022.
  47. “Landscaping Planned at Tri-County Center.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 Sept. 1960, p. J5.
  48. “Tri-County To Open Tomorrow.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 Sept. 1960, p. J4.
  49. “Tri-County Ceremonies.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 Sept. 1960, p. J4.
  50. “Tri-County Developer Pioneer in Shopping Center Field.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 25 Sept. 1960, p. J3.
  51. “Shillito’s Is Major Tenant of New Kenwood Mall.” Cincinnati Post, 2 Oct. 1962, p. 1.
  52. “Tri-County is Expanding.” Cincinnati Post, 12 Jul. 1967, p. 6.
  53. Cincinnati Enquirer, 20 Aug. 1967, p. 4.
  54. “Tri-County’s Versatile Mall Enclosure Now Ready.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 Mar. 1968, p. 4.
  55. Braykovich, Mark and Richard Green. “Lazarus plans more Tri-County renovations.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 3 Aug. 1990, p. D4.
  56. Kent, Jennifer. “The Rebirth of Tri-County.” Cincinnati Post, 23 Oct. 1990, pp. 1C, 3C.
  57. Henterly, Meghan. “Tri-County McAlpin’s set for opening.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 Aug. 1992, p. B5.
  58. Boyer, Mike. “J.C. Penny leaving Tri-County.” Cincinnati Enquirer, 6 May 2005, pp. D1-D2.
  59. Caproni, Erin. “Tri-County Dillard’s to become clearance center.” Cincinnati Business Courier, 30 Sept. 2013.
  60. London, John. “Future of Tri-County Mall: Here’s what’s in store for the $1 billion redevelopment project.” WLWT, 7 Apr. 2022.
  61. “Developers purchase Tri-County Mall, officially starting $1 billion transformation.” WLWT, 18 Mar. 2022.
  62. “MarketSpace Capital and Park Harbor Capital Officially Begin Transformation of One of Ohio’s Largest Shopping Malls.” PR Newswire, 8 Mar. 2022.

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