Randall Park Mall
|Location||North Randall, Ohio, United States|
|Address||20801 Miles Road|
|Opening date||August 11, 1976|
|Closing date||March 12, 2009. Demolished Former Dillards and enclosed mall space 2015, Former Magic Johnson Theaters and rest of anchor tenants demolished 2017.|
|Developer||Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. (DeBartolo Corporation)|
|No. of stores and services||200 at peak|
|No. of anchor tenants||7 at peak|
|Total retail floor area||2,200,000 sq ft (200,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||2|
Randall Park Mall was a shopping mall located in the village of North Randall, Ohio, United States. It opened on August 11, 1976 on the site of what used to be the Randall Park Race Track. After over a decade of decline, it closed on March 12, 2009. The former Dillards and interior of the mall were demolished in 2015 to make way for an industrial park, and the remaining anchor tenants were demolished in 2017 after they all closed down. Amazon built a new distribution center on the site in 2018.
Planning and construction
In 1966, Dominic Visconsi proposed building Garfield Mall in nearby Garfield Heights. In 1968, voters gave their blessing to the project, and the next year a proposal was revealed. Garfield Mall was to have heated underground parking, and elevator and escalator access to stores such as: JCPenney, Sears, Higbee's, and Halle's. In 1971, Youngstown developer Edward J. DeBartolo planned a shopping-apartment-office complex nearby, so Garfield Mall was scaled down and the department stores slated for Garfield Mall instead signed with DeBartolo.
Randall Park Mall was built on the site of the Randall Park Race Track, a horse racing park immediately south of Thistledown Race Track. DeBartolo envisioned Randall Park as a "city within a city", with the mall, with 200 shops, three 14-story apartments, two 20-story office buildings, and a performing arts center that was intended to compete with the Front Row Theater. The total construction cost was $175 million.
Randall Park Mall opened on August 11, 1976. The mall's architect, Frank DeBartolo (Edward's younger brother), opened the mall with actress Dina Merrill in 1976. Upon its opening, the mall had 5 anchor stores: Sears, JCPenney, the May Company, Higbee's, and Horne's. JCPenney opened in March 1976, 5 months before the rest of the mall opened. Sears did not open until February 1977. Halles was going to open a store at the mall across from Higbees, but went out of business in 1982. Randall Park claimed the title of the world's biggest shopping mall when it opened, but the title didn't last very long. In 1992, DeBartolo announced major remerchandising plans.
When it opened in 1976, Randall Park Mall had a three-screen cinema run by General Cinema Corporation. The lobby was one storefront wide, with steep steps leading to the concession stand. The screens were in three side by side auditoriums that opened off the concession stand level. More steps led up a second story to restrooms, the projection booth, and GCC office space.
The cinema became a second-run theater in 1991, and closed in 1993. After that, until the mall's closure, it was used as storage for Diamond's Men's Store, its adjoining neighbor. By the 2000s, Diamond's had extended their display window to include the theater's entrance.
In 1999, Loews Cineplex Entertainment opened a 12-screen Magic Johnson Theatres in the space originally designated for the never-built Halle's anchor. The theater became "O Theater" (with the slogan "O what a bargain!"), after Loews Cineplex Entertainment was bought out by AMC Theatres in 2006. O Theater offered first-run movies at matinee prices but the theater closed in early 2009.
Decline and closure
The mall's decline began in December 1994 when Edward J. DeBartolo died. Two years after DeBartolo’s death, DeBartolo Realty Corporation merged with competitor Simon Property Group to form Simon DeBartolo Group, gaining ownership of Randall Park. The next year, the mall's occupancy was 73%, which was well below the national average of 85%. However, by 2000, that figure had reached 92%, fostering hopes of a full recovery for the institution.
The first anchor store to close at the mall was Horne's, which closed when the chain filed for bankruptcy in 1992. That same year, Higbee's was renovated into Dillard's, and in 1993 The May Company became Kaufmann's. Three years after that, the lower level of the Horne's store was converted into LaSalle Furniture and the upper level was converted into Burlington Coat Factory. The JCPenney store was converted into an outlet store in October 1998, but closed in January 2001 due to falling sales and as a result of closures of 44 locations nationwide. Dillard's closed its Randall Park Mall Store in March 2003, shortly after an incident where an off duty police officer, who was moonlighting as a security guard, apprehended a suspected shoplifter and injured him by slamming his head on the floor. The suspect died in the hospital two days later. In May 2003, two months after the closure of the Dillard's store, the security was sentenced to three years in prison for murdering the suspect. By 2004, about 50% of the mall was vacant, including the former Dillard's and JCPenney. The infrastructure was physically dilapidated, and many area residents viewed the mall as unsafe. Many of the vacant store fronts were completely walled off and the escalators and fountains were shut off. In 2004, Simon sold Randall Park to investor Haywood Whichard for $6 million – just fifteen percent of the original construction cost. As the mall declined, the stores and buildings around it did so too.
Kaufmann's was rebranded into Macy's in 2006. In June 2007, it was announced that Cleveland-based trade school Ohio Technical College would acquire more than 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of space at the mall. The school's PowerSports Institute occupied the former JCPenney and Firestone Complete Auto Care areas. Macy's shuttered its Randall Park Mall store in March 2008.
On May 21, 2008, North Randall mayor David Smith announced that Whichard Real Estate had decided to close the mall by June 12, 2008. The few dozen small stores inside the sprawling, mostly empty, mall had until June 12 to close or move into empty storefronts on nearby roads. Burlington Coat Factory and Sears, which could be accessed from outside the mall, would stay open, as would the movie theater and Ohio Technical College's PowerSport Institute.
County records showed the company owed more than $200,000 in unpaid property taxes, and had taken out multiple mortgages on the mall. On June 5, 2008, it was announced that Randall Park Mall was being sold for an undisclosed sum to United Church Builders. The deal was expected to be finalized in the next 30 to 90 days. Ken Geis, CEO of UCB, felt it could be best suited for housing, education, research, and medical operations. As of May 2009, UCB had not finalized the deal for the mall.
On February 26, 2009, Sears announced that it would close its Randall Park location, as part of an effort to close 24 under-performing Sears and Kmart locations across the country. The last of the remaining small inside stores closed or moved out by March 12, 2009, the same day the mall closed, leaving the mall empty aside from Burlington Coat Factory, Sears, Ohio Technical College's satellite campus, and Furniture Mattress Liquidators, all of which have direct external access. All power to the mall was turned off in May 2009. Sears closed on June 14, 2009.
From 2013-2015, Cleveland-based photographer and artist Johnny Joo photographed the mall in a state of abandonment. Joo's photos were shared around the world when posted in a 2014 Buzzfeed article on abandoned malls across the United States.
In March 2014, it was announced that the vacant mall would be demolished by Industrial Realty Group for the purpose of constructing an industrial park. Property transfer occurred mid-July of that year; demolition began the following December 29.
Demolition of the mall began December 29, 2014, on the former Higbee's/Dillard's anchor store, followed by the mall interior. The demolition and excavation company Sitetech Inc. of Grafton, Ohio was hired to do the work. As of July 2015, only the former anchor buildings (excluding the former Dillard's) remained standing.
On January 16, 2015, Burlington Coat Factory closed.
On May 5, 2016, calls came into the North Randall Fire Department for the former Magic Movie Theater. Five surrounding agencies were dispatched to the theater. Fire was ruled arson by North Randall Fire Department.
On October 14, 2016, a video of the old Macy's building was uploaded to YouTube. The video shows the interior of the building, which is covered with water damage and black mold.
LaSalle Furniture closed on Halloween of 2016, leaving PowerSport Institute as the only business left.
On January 23, 2017, another video of the Macy's building was uploaded by the same YouTuber who filmed it in October 2016. It shows that work crews have been in the building and have cleaned up most of the ground floor.
In June 2017, PowerSports left the property, which left the mall without any businesses except for a recycling facility in the former Sears.
In July 2017, reports emerged that online retailer Amazon was considering the site of the former mall as a space for a new fulfillment center. On August 25, 2017, it was officially announced that Amazon would demolish the mall's remaining anchor stores and build an 855,000-square-foot warehouse, bringing 2,000 full-time jobs to the region.
- Higbee's (210,000 sq ft) became Dillard's in 1992 which closed in 2003
- May Company Ohio (176,327 sq ft) became Kaufmann's in 1993 which became Macy's in 2006 and finally closed in 2008
- Horne's (201,000 sq ft) closed 1992. The 2nd floor turned into Burlington Coat Factory in May 1996 and the 1st floor turned into LaSalle Furniture in that same year. Burlington Coat Factory closed in 2015 and LaSalle Furniture closed in 2016
- JCPenney (207,000 sq ft) closed in 2001 and became Ohio Technical College's PowerSport Institute which as the last business closed in 2017
- Sears (285,702 sq ft) closed in 2009
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