Universal Mall

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Universal Mall
LocationWarren, Michigan, USA
Coordinates42°30′07″N 83°04′59″W / 42.502°N 83.083°W / 42.502; -83.083Coordinates: 42°30′07″N 83°04′59″W / 42.502°N 83.083°W / 42.502; -83.083
Opening date1965
ManagementUniversal Mall Properties
OwnerUniversal Mall Properties
No. of stores and services35
No. of anchor tenants4
Total retail floor area600,000 square feet (55,741.8 m2)
No. of floors1

Universal Mall is a redeveloped open-air power center located in Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The first phase opened in mid-2009 with Target, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, and Petco. It is on the site of a former enclosed shopping mall also called Universal Mall, which opened in 1965.


Development was announced in 1962 for a site formerly occupied by a farm. Montgomery Ward was confirmed as the first anchor tenant at this point.[2] The original mall opened in 1965 as Universal City with Montgomery Ward, Woolworth, and Federal's as its anchor stores. By 1979, Federal's had closed and was converted to Crowley's.[3] A western wing with Mervyns was added to the mall in 1988, and shortly afterward, the eastern wing was renovated to include a movie theater and food court.[3] After the addition of Mervyns and the food court, the mall was renamed "Universal Mall".

In 1997, the F. W. Woolworth chain closed the last of its stores, leaving a large vacancy in the northern wing. Three years later, Montgomery Ward closed the last of its stores as well. Also in 1999, Value City acquired the Crowley's location at Universal Mall and two other Detroit-area malls and renamed them Crowley's Value City before dropping the Crowley's name entirely.[4] Many of Universal Mall's major chain tenants either moved to other malls, or closed up entirely. By the end of the 1990s, Universal Mall's occupancy was below 35%, and it became a dead mall.[5]

Universal Mall Properties acquired the mall in 1999, and mall renovations began soon afterward. Burlington Coat Factory opened that year, displacing the former Woolworth and most of the other stores in the northern wing;[3][6] A.J. Wright opened a year later in a space formerly occupied by Ben Franklin in 1997.[3][7] Plans were also made to divide the former Montgomery Ward space into smaller shops.[8] Eventually, occupancy at Universal Mall rebounded to 75%,[3] although by 2007 it had declined to 48% (in part due to the closure of Mervyns' Michigan operations in 2006).[9]

The mall was closed in June 2008 and demolition began on the 23rd of that month, leaving only the Burlington Coat Factory, AJ Wright, theater and former Value City.[10] The rest has been replaced by a strip containing 35 tenants,[11] including Petco and Target.[12] The last remaining tenant held over from when the mall was enclosed was Cinemark, which operated the movie theater since it opened in 1991 until it closed in mid-2016. It is expected to reopen as a location of MJR Theatres in late 2016.[13] AJ Wright has since re-branded as Marshalls.


  1. ^ "Shopping center developers are 28 years old". Detroit Free Press. June 20, 1964. p. 4B. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  2. ^ Mueller, John (November 28, 1962). "$40 million land project is underway in Warren". Detroit Free Press. p. A3. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Universal Mall history Archived April 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ VALUE CITY TO REVAMP 4 CROWLEY'S. (Brief article)
  5. ^ Universal Mall may be demolished Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Universal Mall to fill Woolworth's space with Burlington Coat Factory.(Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., Universal Mall Properties L.L.C.)(Brief Article)
  7. ^ "Aging malls retool look to survive". The Detroit News. 15 September 2002.
  8. ^ Aging malls fight to remake their images
  9. ^ Crain's Detroit Business
  10. ^ "Universal Mall meets wrecking ball". WDIV. 2008-06-23. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  11. ^ Universal Mall is coming down[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Halcom, Chad (2009-03-08). "Universal Mall signs tenants - some from down the street". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  13. ^ MJR to take over Cinemark theater in Warren