White Flint Mall
Exterior view of White Flint Mall, June 2012
|Location||North Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.|
|Address||11301 Rockville Pike 20895-1021|
|Opening date||March 2, 1977|
|Closing date||January 4, 2015(demolished July 2015–January 2016)|
|No. of stores and services||0 (125 at its peak)|
|No. of anchor tenants||1 (3 at its peak)|
|Total retail floor area||800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||3 of retail (Lord & Taylor on 2; former Bloomingdale's on 4)|
|Website||www.shopwhiteflint.com at the Wayback Machine (archived March 14, 2014)|
White Flint Mall was a shopping mall located along Rockville Pike in Montgomery County, Maryland that closed in early 2015 and demolished thereafter. To this day, only Lord & Taylor remains of what was left of the mall.
The mall opened in 1977 and was initially anchored by Lord & Taylor, I. Magnin (the sole East Coast branch of the chain, which closed in June 1992), and the second Bloomingdale's location in the Washington, D.C., area (after Tysons Corner Center). Borders Books and Music took over the I. Magnin location in 1993; it closed in 2011. I. Magnin was only on levels 2 & 3 while Lord & Taylor was on levels 1 & 2. Raleigh Haberdasher also had a suburban branch at the center.
Some shopping areas revolved around a motif; Georgetown on the third floor and Via Rialto on the ground floor, which were recreations of the urban districts in Washington and Venice. The latter was a block of shops and restaurants stretching from the center court to the main entrance facing Rockvile Pike where Bertucci's and Cheesecake Factory later stood. Both Georgetown and Restaurant Row, home to Intermission Nightclub and Dining Disco in the late 1970s, the first shopping mall disco in the country, were replaced by Dave & Buster's. Other restaurants and fast food vendors populated the mall including the food court The Eatery, which went from a darker earth tone color motif to bright neon in the 1980s as well as the third-floor loft overlooking the center court.
The mall found creative ways to promote itself over the years. White Flint was the first mall to issue its own credit card to frequent shoppers. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the mall released its own Monopoly game entitled "White Flint-opoly".
Three decorative water features were located on the first level of the center. The largest was a fountain underneath and around the mirrored escalators, loosely based on the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal in Venice, in the Via Rialto mall within a mall. This fountain was low to the ground which made it prone to children falling in causing it to be removed when I. Magnin closed. Two identical fountains were in center court, one in front of each glass elevator, and removed during a 2004 mall facelift. One oddity about the closure of Borders on April 17, 2011, was the sign that remained in front of the escalator leading to its permanently shuttered entrance that read "Temporarily Out of Service". Over the years major celebrities have appeared at the mall like Donna Karan and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as minor and local stars like the cast of MTV's The Real World: D.C., Brigitte Burdine, Andrea Mitchell, Paula Marshall, Giuliana Rancic and Christine Blasey Ford.
The mall's impact was felt throughout the metro area in places such as Prince George's County which lacked any regional shopping centers as upscale as White Flint. This led to some spots like Landover Mall and Iverson Mall receiving the nickname "Black Flint Mall", while alternately White Flint was dubbed the "White Iverson Mall".
White Flint was a popular destination on Halloween, known for its annual "Howl-O-Ween" event with special trick-or-treating and hosting children's magic shows performed by area entertainers including The Great Zucchini and Dean Carnegie among others.
Demolition and redevelopment
In November 2011, Lerner Enterprises announced plans to deconstruct the 850,000-square-foot (79,000 m2) mall and its large parking deck and replace it with four office buildings, a 300-room hotel, 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of retail and restaurant space, and 12 apartment buildings consisting of a total of 2,500 residences. The developers expected construction to begin two years following approval and take approximately 25 years to be fully completed.
On January 5, 2012, Macy's Inc. announced that the mall's Bloomingdale's store would close in March 2012. Bloomingdale's closed on March 14, 2012, and the building it occupied was demolished in 2013 prior to the mall's closure.
On December 24, 2013, WJLA-TV reported that White Flint Mall would be permanently closed after nearly 37 years. On August 13, 2014, Dave & Buster's was evicted. P. F. Chang's China Bistro closed January 4, 2015, along with the mall entrance, thus shuttering the mall for good, with the exception of Lord & Taylor, its only remaining anchor store.
Lord & Taylor is remaining through the redevelopment process, however, they have been involved in litigation with the mall beginning in July 2013, and went to trial to seek damages on July 28, 2015. On August 14, 2015, the court ruled that White Flint owed Lord & Taylor $31,000,000. White Flint appealed the court's decision; the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the previous verdict in favor of Lord & Taylor, stating that the mall's owners' breached their 1975 contract with Lord & Taylor to maintain the property as a "first-class" mall until 2042. The appeals court ruled that mall's owners "could not establish to a 'reasonable certainty' whether and to what extent Lord & Taylor would benefit from the redevelopment". The opinion also noted the mall's owners failed to provide the jury with a clear picture of when the new town center would be built, how many buildings it would include and what types of businesses would be expected to lease space in it. The appeals court ruled that the $31,000,000 was a reasonable estimation of lost profits and future construction costs to reconfigure the store.
Contractors began the exterior demolition of the mall, beginning with the southeastern parking garage nearest to the former Bloomingdale's store site, on July 7, 2015. Demolition of the actual mall building and the remaining parking garages, except the one connected to Lord & Taylor, was finished in January 2016.
Three years after the mall was closed, Amazon began a contest to select the location of its second headquarters. When the Washington, D.C., area became among the multitude of potential cities that were chosen as finalists for the headquarters' location, the mall's original site was chosen as one of multiple possible sites in the Washington metropolitan area where HQ2 could be built, should Amazon decide to station it in the D.C. area. Ultimately, the second headquarters was awarded to both New York's Long Island and nearby Crystal City,, allowing Lerner to continue its original redevelopment plans.
- Maraniss, David (May 2, 1978). "White Flint a Social as Well as Shopping Center". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- "White Flint-opoly White Flint Mall Bethesda Md New Fs". Terapeak. eBay. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016.
- Rosenwald, Michael (April 17, 2011). "At Borders' closing, everything on shelves is priced to go. The shelves, too". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- Escalator Temporarily Out of Service (Photograph). White Flint Mall. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
Escalator Temporarily Out of Service. Please utilize the escalators located in the Lord & Taylor Wing or elevators in Center Court. We apologize for any inconvenience. WHITE FLINT
- Zall, Barnaby (July 8, 2009). "MTV's "Real World" Comes to White Flint (no, really)". Friends of White Flint. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- "Paula Marshall, Class of 1982 ...again!". The Midnight Sun Online: Robert E. Peary H.S. - Rockville, MD. Archived from the original on November 30, 2011.
- Whiting, Amanda (September 19, 2016). "Fashion Police's Giuliana Rancic Used to Cut Class at Walt Whitman to Hang at White Flint Mall". Washingtonian. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
- Contrera, Jessica (September 27, 2018). "Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford moved 3,000 miles to reinvent her life. It wasn't far enough". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
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- Ruoff, Alex. "Plan envisions White Flint Mall becoming a "town"". The Gazette. Archived from the original on November 22, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
- "Closing: 5 Macy's And 4 Bloomingdale's Stores". AOL Jobs. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Chaney, Jen (December 22, 2013). "White Flint's last Christmas: Closing of a past retail mecca hints at an American era's end". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- "Tales of the Dying Mall: White Flint Mall (Photo Gallery)". Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Dyer, Robert. "Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row". Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Sernovitz, Daniel J. (May 28, 2015). "Trial date set for showdown between the White Flint Mall and its last remaining tenant". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- O'Connell, Jonathan (August 14, 2015). "Jury rules White Flint Mall owners breached contract with Lord & Taylor". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
- Metcalf, Andrew (February 28, 2017). "Appeals Court Upholds Verdict in Favor of Lord & Taylor in White Flint Mall Case". Bethesda Beat. Bethesda Magazine.
- Austermuhle, Martin (January 18, 2018). "D.C., Montgomery County And Northern Virginia All Make Short-List For Amazon's HQ2". WAMU 88.5. American University. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
- Banister, Jon (April 18, 2018). "White Flint Mall Lawsuit Put On Hold As Amazon Considers Site For HQ2". Bisnow. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
- Peetz, Caitlynn (13 November 2018). "Amazon Passes Over Montgomery County for HQ2". Bethesda Magazine. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
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