26 October 2008

Dead Malls of Louisiana: Hammond Square Mall

Hammond Square Mall was a smaller ‘community’ mall (430,000 sq. ft.) located at the NW corner of the interchange of Interstate 12 and SW Railroad Avenue (Business US 51) in Hammond, Louisiana. It featured spaces for three anchors (at the end of its life: Dillards, a one story Sears [odd to me], and a vacant former JC Penney) and had a weird internal configuration: it was two level, but all mall entrances were from ground level, with the bottom level recessed ‘half’ a floor and the upper level raised ‘half’ a floor from the perspective of the entrance. The overall mall configuration was a simple “T” with anchors at each end of the “T” and a center court at the juncture with a main mall entrance and weird staircases all around. A recent-vintage AMC Theatre exists on an outparcel behind the mall.

Opened in 1976, in its entire 30 year or so lifespan the mall was never remodeled or repainted, which it certainly could have used as all wall colors inside the mall were this hilarious Day-Glo dark pink, as well as the usual heavy wood paneling, lack of natural light, and other features common to 1970s malls. The mall was a living time capsule and, while very cool from a mall history perspective, likely contributed to its demise. Of course in smaller communities such as Hammond where mall competition, and thus the impetus to stay current due to same, is scarce, this lack of remodeling is quite common.

Though this was not the most well-trafficked mall, it did seem to hold its own despite the lack of one anchor and what I estimated, upon my tour of the mall, to be a ~35% vacancy rate. However, its dated décor and the lifestyle craze finally caught up to it, and it is now in the process of being replaced with another stupid open air ‘lifestyle center’ (you saw that one coming).

Dillard's and Sears will remain in place and expand their stores while the mall goes down around them, with new freestanding retailers to be added, including Home Depot, Target and JC Penney (again). The existing Rite-Aid will also remain open. Demolition began in March 2007 with new tenants to open throughout 2008. The total projected space comes to 850,000 square feet.

The last day of business (which I witnessed personally) was March 31, 2007, and on this day all of the inline stores were either shuttered, closed with employees actively removing anything of value, or still open but selling off all inventory and furnishings.

Dillard's will expand from its approximately 70,500-square-foot store to 95,000 square feet; Sears will completely gut its store and refurbish it; and a 128,000-square-foot Target will be built next to Dillard's.

No comments: