Metrocenter Mall (Jackson, Mississippi)
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|Location||Jackson, Mississippi, United States|
|Developer||Jim Wilson & Associates|
|Management||The Overby Company|
|Owner||City of Jackson and Metrocenter Mall, LLC|
|No. of stores and services||60|
|No. of anchor tenants||1|
|Total retail floor area||1,250,000 SQ.FT.|
|No. of floors||2|
Metrocenter Mall is an enclosed shopping mall in South Jackson. The largest enclosed shopping mall in Mississippi, it is composed of 1,250,000 square feet of retail space on two levels, including four anchor spaces. Regional real estate developer Jim Wilson & Associates built the mall in Mississippi's capital city in 1978, as one of its portfolio of properties throughout the southeastern United States. Key tenants as of 2014 include one of two Burlington Coat Factory stores in the state, and offices of the City of Jackson. The mall is located near the junction of Interstates 20 and 220, along South Jackson's U.S. Highway 80 corridor. After years of ownership by Cannon Management and Jackson Metrocenter Limited, a decade-long decline at the mall led to a foreclosure in November 2012, and subsequent sale to Metrocenter Mall, LLC.
When Metrocenter opened in March 1978, it was considered to be the largest mall in America with over 100 services and stores on two levels. The mall opened with three anchor department stores, Jackson-based McRae's, Alabama-based Gayfers, and national retailer Sears. New Orleans-based D.H. Holmes was added as the fourth department store anchor in May 1979. Restaurants were inside two of the department stores — Potpourri Restaurant inside D.H. Holmes, and Widow Watson's inside McRae's. Metrocenter also had a Service Merchandise, a specialty outlet of the Jackson-based Jitney-Jungle supermarket chain, and Mississippi's only General Cinema theater as outparcels, and took away most of the business of Jackson Mall, which opened in 1969 with JCPenney, Gayfers, and Woolco as its anchors, in North Jackson. Metrocenter continued to enjoy success after Northpark Mall opened north of the county line in Ridgeland in 1984.
D.H. Holmes was acquired by and converted to Arkansas-based Dillard's in 1989, bringing with it the closure of the Potpourri Restaurant. A decade later, Dillard's acquired Gayfers by way of a buyout of its parent Mercantile Stores in 1999. McRae's was sold in 2006, and its Metrocenter store rebranded to Belk that year. Sears was the only original anchor to remain until its closure.
Metrocenter began to decline in 1999, when the first of the mall's anchor department stores closed. Dillard's, which had acquired two of the mall's anchor spaces by 1999, continued to operate in the former D.H. Holmes space while closing the Gayfer's space. Dillard's remained in the mall until 2006, leaving two active department store anchors at Metrocenter. Within the same year, one of those anchors — McRae's — was sold to Belk, which assumed the anchor and rebranded the store's restaurant as Brittyanna's. A steady pattern of vacancies continued until August 2007, when Burlington Coat Factory opened in the first level of the former Gayfers property to great fanfare, drawing patrons from more than 90 miles away. Statistics show traffic had increased at Metrocenter by as much as 3,000 cars per day.
Despite the addition, demographics in the Jackson metropolitan area and the dangers of South Jackson contributed to substantial vacancies. By June 2009, Belk announced its intent to close the company's Metrocenter's location in August, in order to focus on suburban properties at Ridgeland's Northpark Mall, and Dogwood Festival Market & Promenade in Flowood.
The year's end brought a 6-1 vote during a December 2009 meeting of Jackson's city council, to purchase the former D.H. Holmes/Dillard's property for $39,500, in hopes of spurring a revitalization of South Jackson.
The former McRae's/Belk property was sold in July 2010 to Retro Metro, LLC, with plans to divide the one-time anchor between offices for the City of Jackson on the first level, and a mixed-use redevelopment in the second level that included offices, restaurants, and retail space. Watkins Partners, a Jackson-area real estate developer, announced intentions to move forward with Project Retro Metro in December 2010 and started with its mixed-use redevelopment in January 2011. David Watkins, president of Watkins Partners, said, "Metrocenter has plummeted."
Despite many efforts to redevelop Metrocenter, Sears Holdings announced in late December 2011 that over 100 of its Kmart and Sears properties would close, including the Sears store at Metrocenter. The last of the mall's department store anchors, Sears closed in 2012. Presently the only uses of the mall are the Burlington store, City offices, and scattered small outlets around the center court. Special events are still held in the center court as well.