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Enclosed malls fade from Washington region

Once the economic juggernaut of suburbia, enclosed malls are slowly dying all across America. The Washington region is no exception.

This map shows 31 enclosed malls in the DC area, color-coded by status: green for malls that are still open, and red for malls that are closed or in the process of closing.

The 31 malls on the map range from small local ones like Fair City in Fairfax, to gargantuan super-regional ones like Tysons Corner. The only requirement to be on the map is that malls contain a common interior hallway lined with several shops.

Some, like Pentagon City, are chugging along as healthily as ever. Others, like Seven Corners Center, have been gone for years. Overall, more than 40% of the dots are red.

The reasons malls have closed vary as much as the malls themselves. Some closed because they were housed in cheap buildings that simply reached the end of their intended lifespans, while others couldn't compete with the mixed-use town center developments that have become common in recent years.

Geography seems to be unimportant in whether a mall lives or dies. Red dots permeate all corners of the map, regardless of the wealth of the jurisdiction.

One thing that does seem to make a difference is size. Larger malls that draw from a wider area generally seem more likely to thrive than smaller ones. As the years go by and even more green dots turn to red, it's likely the last hold outs will be the biggest and most famous.

Is this map comprehensive? Did I miss any malls? Let me know in the comments.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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Wheaton Plaza & City Place will never die, they will live forever!

by John M on Mar 27, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

Are there more shops at Union Station that at DCA? Should DCA be on this list?

Does anyone go to Union Station for shopping if they aren't using it as a transit hub? I know they have shopping, like many transit hubs and airports, but I don't know of it as a shopping destination.

by Tom A. on Mar 27, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

Virginia Square was never an enclosed mall. It was and outdoor mall with a Kann's Department Store.

by JP on Mar 27, 2012 12:16 pm • linkreport

Would the L'Enfant Promenade shops not qualify for this purpose? Also wasn't there once a Mall in SW DC where 4th St now sits?

by Russell on Mar 27, 2012 12:17 pm • linkreport

@Russell. Maybe the map only includes relatively large malls?

Yes Waterside mall is closed.

The map also misses Free State Mall in Bowie which has converted from enclosed to open-air. I think Livingston Square at Livingston and Old Fort Road in Ft. Washington is still enclosed

by Jim T on Mar 27, 2012 12:21 pm • linkreport

@Tom A: Sure. I, for one, go to Union Station specifically for the stores. If nothing else, it has one of the last general bookstores in the city there. I am sure I am not the only one.

by Anon202 on Mar 27, 2012 12:26 pm • linkreport

Another demolished mall would be Capital Plaza, in the NE quadrant of B-W Pkwy and MD-450.

by Jim T on Mar 27, 2012 12:27 pm • linkreport

Jim T- Capital Plaza is on the map. (replaced by a Walmart)

by Tom A. on Mar 27, 2012 12:29 pm • linkreport

Correction--I see you have Capital Plaza. So I think you only missed to in PG, one of which is outside the map's frame.

by Jim T on Mar 27, 2012 12:30 pm • linkreport

How do you distinguish between "thriving" and "surviving?" Occupancy or vacancy rates? Business turnover? Sales volume? Total visitors? (apologies if I missed that detail)

The character of some of the malls, such as Union Station and Crystal City, are markedly different from others such as Ballston and Fair Oaks in that they don't have anchor stores. Crystal and Union both seem to be primarily lunch and dinner destinations that serve nearby office workers or transients, and don't have the same draw, making them niche (notwithstanding Anon202 above).

by Jack Love on Mar 27, 2012 12:34 pm • linkreport

In order to make the list exhaustive, perhaps you could define what constitutes an 'enclosed mall' more precisely. DCUSA is left off your map, presumably because at least half of its stores face the street rather than the interior concourse. Still, to the folks who drive to Columbia Heights, park in the DCUSA garage and then shop at Best Buy and Target, it might as well be an enclosed mall. Where to draw the line?

by RC on Mar 27, 2012 12:42 pm • linkreport

I knew that Springfield Mall has been struggling, but I didn't know it was going to close. It's only surviving because of JC Penny and Macys.

I live near Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge and it's the biggest single level mall and still very popular. People come from Maryland other states to visit the mall. JC Penny just opened a newly remodeled store at this mall.

by Davin Peterson on Mar 27, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

What about Chevy Chase Pavilion across Wisconsin from Mazza Gallerie?
The shops at Union Station certainly aren't thriving by foot traffic at least, the shopping area is often empty. Wheaton has far more people than Union Station's shops do, although maybe this is including Union Station's food courts as the main factor? Some rationale behind the designations would be appreciated.

by arm on Mar 27, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

DC malls are in much better shape than those in other cities, mostly because no major malls have been built since 1989. Several malls have been or will be de-malled (Landmark). Several of the malls mentioned here are too small to be factors (Livingston). The cost of land and the hurdles for developers (zoning, NIMBYs) also have meant that DC hasn't gotten a lot of the lifestyle centers, which have cut into mall business in many places. The real decline of malls happened here in the 80s and 90s, with the complete deaths of Landover & Capital, the long decline of Georgetown Park, White Flint and the initial decline of PG Plaza and Seven Corners. Some of the dead and dying malls probably can be redeveloped because they have healthy anchors. In contrast, there are places like Atlanta, where a great many malls are struggling, other than the most dominant, because it has been so easy to build and there have been some big demographic shifts in the metro area.. The LA are, like DC is a difficult place to build and malls there have fared pretty well.

by Rich on Mar 27, 2012 12:46 pm • linkreport

The Target/Best Buy/BB&B/etc. in Columbia Heights would appear to be thriving. By the "share a common hallway" definition, they should be a mall.

by John King on Mar 27, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

This list is missing Chevy Chase Pavilion, across the street from Mazza Gallerie. Not a traditional mall since many of the stores have street frontages. It does have some (struggling) interior facing stores and it used to have a food court.

by Dave on Mar 27, 2012 12:48 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure what the exact criteria is for "enclosed mall", but here are some others (all defunct) that might fit the category -

-The Pavilion at the Old Post Office
-The Shops at National Place
-Waterside Mall (the one in SW that Russell mentions)

by Frank IBC on Mar 27, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

I didn't realize that the food court in the Chevy Chase Pavilion had closed. It's lost several stores in the past few years - most recently, Pottery Barn, and Borders and Linens & Things previously.

by Frank IBC on Mar 27, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

Anyone know if Union Station has any plans for the old movie theatre space? That thing's sat empty for ages.

(Oh, and if we're going to continue to split hairs, does Gallery Place count as a mall?)

by andrew on Mar 27, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

I disagree that the Mazza Gallerie is thriving.

by Cakes on Mar 27, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

Another reason for the decline of large enclosed malls is the failure or consolidation of the major department store chains that used to anchor those malls - locally, Woodie's, Hecht's, Garfinckel's, Raleigh's and Hechts are gone, and nationally, Wards is gone. The newer department stores such as Target tend to prefer other locations.

by Frank IBC on Mar 27, 2012 1:07 pm • linkreport

I agree with general sentiment above that this map can say whatever you want it to say. Certainly Pentagon City is doing better than either Ballston or the Crystal City underground, but I'm not so sure of those latter two when compared to Union Station. And the fact that both of them, Crystal City particularly, have turned their storefronts (mostly restaurants) inside out for streetside entrances and traffic. (and Union Station has not). I also wonder what one would call the thing across from the Pentagon City mall where the Costco (and a few other (normally in) big boxers are).

Take also Seven Corners, which is 'demolished' when one could alternatively say it was also basically turned inside out with big box stores. Which you can call a strip mall I suppose, but the connotation is normally a lot different. In either case it is thriving.

Last, Skyline is indeed gone and now a target, but every other retail option in that area are sizeable one level strip malls with epically large parking lots. And is also thriving at least measured by the traffic jams on Leesburg Pike between the Alex City line and Seven Corners.

I also wonder if something will eventually be developed more central in both Loudoun and Howard counties and we're just seeing an evolutionary stage as closer in malls decline. But likely not, as I agree that the anchor for these were the major department stores, who are not expanding as much anymore. Though I could see Nordstrom wanting a full fledged store closer into a bunch of 100K households. (maybe Dulles is close enough)

by Kolohe on Mar 27, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

My bf works at Fair City Mall. I'm pretty sure the enclosed part is still there (that's where the movie theatre is). It's not very big, but it's there.

It's interesting how most of the malls in the region that have been shuttered haven't been converted to "main street" or "lifestyle center" developments but, rather, office buildings or big-box stores.

In Denver, for instance, I think 6 of the area's 13 malls have been converted to lifestyle centers, like Belmar. Perhaps it's because of infill development in existing towns and urban neighborhoods, like downtown Silver Spring, Bethesda Row and Clarendon, which already served as the de facto social centers of the region. We didn't have to turn a mall inside out to make a downtown, because they already existed. Of course, further-out communities like White Flint and Springfield are tearing down their malls because they never had downtowns to begin with.

That said, I wish I'd gotten a chance to visit some of the region's now-dead malls, particularly the Rockville Mall. Whether or not you like them, malls are a significant part of our local and national history, and they're worth documenting for future generations. I hope someone's taking pictures of the big glass elevator at White Flint Mall.

by dan reed! on Mar 27, 2012 1:28 pm • linkreport

Also, I don't know if this counts as "DC area," but there are a number of dead malls in greater Baltimore: Chatham Mall in Howard County; Severna Park Mall, Jumpers Hole and Harundale Mall in Anne Arundel (the last of which was the first enclosed mall on the East Coast, built in 1956). Those are all strip malls now, I think. There's also the Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Baltimore County, now a lifestyle center, and Owings Mills Mall, which isn't dead yet but close.

Finally, Columbia Mall is going to be redeveloped at some point as part of the downtown Columbia plan, but that's a long, long way out.

by dan reed! on Mar 27, 2012 1:31 pm • linkreport

fair city has always had an outdoor part, and still has an indoor part, but a big chunk of the mall that used to face indoors now faces outdoors - I think that was done about 5 or 6 years ago. Basically it went from 2/3 mall, 1/3 shopping center, to 1/3 mall, 2/3 shopping center (thats conceptual - actually I think the remaining indoor sq footage is a good bit less than 1/3 - though im not sure the sq footage of the movie theaters, which are indoor facing)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 27, 2012 1:38 pm • linkreport

Let's go to the mall!

by Jim on Mar 27, 2012 1:44 pm • linkreport

@andrew, there are plans to use the former movie theater space at Union Station for restaurants and shops with access from the front hall. The front hall is to be converted (back) into a more open waiting area with benches.

I would not have thought of Union Station as an indoor mall, as it lacks big anchor stores, but as a train station with extensive retail outlets. But it is indoors and has Amtrak, DC Metro, and its location as anchors, so I can see categorizing it as a mall.

From the list, size does matter for an indoor mall to survive. I've noticed that elsewhere. Another aspect that should be included on the list of malls is DC Metro access. How many of the malls within the area covered by the Metro system that have easy Metro access are thriving versus those that do not? If Springfield Mall had been closer to the Metro station with direct pedestrian access, it likely would have been a thriving or surviving mall, not in long term decline. Pentagon City mall, on the other hand, must get a large piece of its traffic via the DC Metro.

Strictly my impression, but I don't know Dulles Town Center should be classified as thriving. I have never seen it that busy or the vast acres of parking lots more than half-full. Has a number of empty stores, although it does have all the anchor stores filled. I have no numbers, but it may be closer to surviving than thriving.

by AlanF on Mar 27, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

I too wonder what constitutes a mall and thriving/surviving.

@Davin Peterson: Springfield wasn't struggling as much as it has been poorly managed since the last expansion. People hoped that would change after the sale, but Vornado has dragged their feet with the property as they have in several other locations in the region. For years, leases were allowed to expire to make room for construction and they decided to keep stores from opening for the most part. A couple months ago, stores were told the entire mall would be closed by early Summer with the exception of the anchors (Macy's, Target, and JC Penny). The plan for more than 10 years (before that news a couple months ago) was to close half of the mall at a time. Now, they plan on closing the entire mall for two years.

by selxic on Mar 27, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

I would definitely add DC*USA in Columbia Heights. Most of the anchors are only reachable by going through the common enclosed area: Marshalls, Target, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Although it's a borderline case, I would also consider The Shops at Gallery Place. Several shops are reachable from street entrances only, but some of the shops are only reachable from the common area: Bar Louie, Lucky Strike, Thai Chili, Sushi Go Round, and Regal 14.

by tom veil on Mar 27, 2012 1:57 pm • linkreport

@AlanF "Pentagon City mall, on the other hand, must get a large piece of its traffic via the DC Metro."

Anecdotally, I can confirm this by the large numbers of package-laden passengers who board the Yellow Line at Pentagon City. Strictly anecdotal, however.

The Metro/non-Metro attribute hasn't gotten much of a review here, however, but Crystal City is Metro-friendly and it shows as being "surviving." Would like some more details on how that differs from "thriving." Crystal's issue is a large work-day draw that is largely absent in the evenings, and most of the Underground is food-based.

Can we get sectorwise sales for each of the malls?

by Jack Love on Mar 27, 2012 1:59 pm • linkreport


Springfield Mall is still pretty close to the Metro. Yes, it could be closer, but I don't think that would make that much of a difference, especially since it's at the end of a line. Meanwhile, Fair Oaks Mall is doing well and is not close to the Metro. Springfield Mall's issues don't have much to do with lack of accessibility.

by Vik on Mar 27, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

* Chevy Chase Arcade
* Rhode Island Plaza

by davidj on Mar 27, 2012 2:13 pm • linkreport

You could include the former mall on Rt. 1 that has been redeveloped into a Lowe's and strip mall. I think the complex is called Beacon Hill (or something similar).

by Thad on Mar 27, 2012 2:18 pm • linkreport

I think drawing a mall map after 4 years of the greatest economic depression since the Depression and drawing conclusions about the death of the industry is probably a bit shortsighted.

Also, this map could also, in the same fashion, show that the number of malls saturated very quickly and then new malls simply cannibalized old malls for the same retailers. Montgomery Mall cannibalized Lakeforest. Tyson's is Cannibalizing MM and others.

Other observations seem appropriate as well: if you aren't growing, you're dead (Tysons). If you don't invest in complimentary office space, your Mall is dead (Gaithersburg). There are a limited number of top shelf retailers in the industry, and in a recession, they'll reduce their footprint to the most profitable locations.

by YTB on Mar 27, 2012 2:20 pm • linkreport

Waterfront Mall is an obvious brain fart. How could I forget that?

Keep the comments coming. I'll update the map in a few days.

"Thriving" vs "Surviving" is purely my own impression. It's not objective at all. Originally I was thinking of having a third category for malls that are still open but that have obviously precarious futures, such as Lakeforest. That was what the "surviving" category was going to be. But since it was subjective I decided against using it.

by BeyondDC on Mar 27, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

Slightly random question - but why is it that nearly every dead mall seems to have a Burlington Coat Factory thriving amidst the ruins?

by Frank IBC on Mar 27, 2012 2:38 pm • linkreport


Ah, the old Beacon Mall. Yeah, it was partially demolished and redeveloped years ago. Used to get my jeans there, buy records (actual records) from the record store there, and, of course, catch movies at the movie theater there.

It was pretty small - a single corridor with a grocery store (Giant) anchoring one end and a Marshall's anchoring the other. I believe before the mall was built there, there may have been a small general aviation airfield there (which may or may not have been the source of the eponymous beacon), but that was before my time.

by EdTheRed on Mar 27, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

I would not consider Union Station or DCUSA a mall, but if it fits your definition then you could also include the Chevy Chase Pavilion, L'Enfant Promenade, Pentagon Centre (the building with a Marshall's, Costco, etc), the Cityline building in Tenleytown (with a Best Buy, Container Store, etc) and Foxhall Square on New Mexico Ave.
@ Frank IBC - I'm not sure about the reason for correlation, but as a young professional I did a lot of my clothes shopping at Filene's Basement (RIP, I miss you), Marshall's, Burlington Coat Factory, etc. I imagine that Burlington is a destination for certain shoppers in and of itself, so their stores can better withstand a lack of enthusiasm for the stores/building surrounding them.

by grumpy on Mar 27, 2012 2:58 pm • linkreport

Crystal's issue is a large work-day draw that is largely absent in the evenings, and most of the Underground is food-based.

But it used to be a 'real' mall with the usual suspect chain stores, a movie theater, and even a Safeway.

by Vicente Fox on Mar 27, 2012 3:35 pm • linkreport

@vik, how easy is it to walk from the Springfield Metro station to the Springfield Mall complex? I don't recall ever reading about people taking the Metro to the Springfield Mall. Looking at it with Google Earth, there is limited access SR 7900 6 lane highway to cross under and several wide local roads to walk along for roughly 2000' to get to the mall. At least the roads there have sidewalks.

I would be interested in seeing notes in the mall list on ease of DC Metro access for the enclosed malls in the area covered by the Metro. Along with sheer size and location, I think Metro access is a factor in which ones in the denser parts of the region are thriving versus not.

As for defining what is an enclosed mall, it can't be just a food court or have news stands. It should have multiple retail stores for clothing & goods. It should have an anchor retail store, but for the purposes of comparison, Union Station should be included as it is a shopping destination.

On thriving versus surviving, without a major effort to get retail sale numbers which many of the mall operators will not provide, that is a judgment call. There could be a 3rd category of decline or barely hanging on which is easier to identify when you walk into the mall - multiple empty stores, an aura of poor maintenance. The malls that are now in the red closed or demolished category were, AFAIK, all in decline long before the 2008 crash. The owners of the mall will milk declining rent and income for as long as they can while letting maintenance and marketing go.

by AlanF on Mar 27, 2012 3:50 pm • linkreport

The Safeway in the CC Underground has been gone for many years, and its space is still vacant. I suspect what Safeway found was that it was a great place for office workers to get cheap lunch, but for more substantial grocery runs, not so much. And that's what a grocer needs to survive. This was, of course, before the CC BID got serious about turning it into a livable residential area.

@YTB "I think drawing a mall map after 4 years of the greatest economic depression since the Depression and drawing conclusions about the death of the industry is probably a bit shortsighted."

Perhaps, but this overlooks the relative success enjoyed by the open-air centers, such as Fairfax Town Center or Reston Town Center or any of the other local favorites. Retailers and restaurateurs especially are doing well here. Consider too neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, 14th Street, and U Street. No recession here!

Bottom line: the mall story is about more than macroeconomics, more than Metro, more than indoors vs. outdoors. I don't think we've nailed it yet.

by Jack Love on Mar 27, 2012 3:56 pm • linkreport

As pointed out above, Seven Corners wasn't demolished. The anchor (Woodies) where Home Depot and Shoppers are now located was torn down, but the center structure was gutted and reconfigured. I'm not sure about the anchor at the other end (Garfinkels, maybe?) but I think it was only gutted as well.

Seven Corners was a bit of an oddball with two levels that didn't line up. There was only an escalator that connected the corridors (though there was another escalator in the five-and-dime - Woolworths, I think - and one in each achor). By the time it was torn down it felt rather cramped compared to newer malls.

by PeakVT on Mar 27, 2012 4:05 pm • linkreport

I see that "thriving" and "surviving" were based on your own impressions. Have you ever tried to park at Prince Georges on the weekend? It seems to be thriving--many customers, hardly any, if any, empty stores, Target pretty much torn to shreds by the shopping frenzy going on. On the flip side, you could roll a bowling ball down Mazza Galleria on any day and not hit anyone. Wheaton seems to be picking up steam now. And Sh*tty Place, well, it really needs some decent stores, and more of us would venture in.

by Patty B on Mar 27, 2012 4:10 pm • linkreport

@AlanF, I saw people regularly walk both between the Metro station and the Mall and the Metro station and Condos adjoining the Mall when I commuted via Franconia-Springfield.

The pedestrian access is decent, in that there are timed crosswalks, so if you chose you can walk from the Metro to the Mall in relative safety. Although many people walk against the lights to shorten the time.

Far from optimal, but doable (and people do!). And probably as close as it could have been given the cost reductions of building the station along the existing train right-of-way

by Byron on Mar 27, 2012 4:30 pm • linkreport


You must have gone on a really odd time if you do not think Fair Oaks Mall is thriving.

by vtnar1290 on Mar 27, 2012 4:34 pm • linkreport

Nice map! Very useful. It would be great if you could do one for the Baltimore (or simply expand this one) as well--Westfield Annapolis, Columbia, Arundel Mills, etc.

As much as I like the urban town square/center/pedestrian plaza type of shopping center, I really hope that some traditional, indoor malls will be able to survive. For one, big box department stores don't do as well in the former model. Also, while they may be ugly, indoor malls use retail space more efficiently and are still very much community hubs.

That said, I've been saying for a while that White Flint needed to be razed, its only draws being Cheesecake Factory and D&B (which should both survive after the demolition). Bloomingdale's move to Friendship Village was just the final nail in the coffin. Westfield Montgomery is doing great and shouldn't go anywhere, Westfield Wheaton could use a jolt of energy, which should be provided by the redevelopment.

City Place is simply a bad joke (even though its surrounded by new, vibrant development) and should be either be razed or drastically overhauled. Lakeforest (my closest mall) should not be redeveloped as its the closest mall for at least 300,000 people, is very busy, and has good anchors (JCP, Macy's, L&T, Sears).

Growing up in Mitchelville, I vaguely remember visiting Landover Mall to shop, take family photos at Sears, and see Santa. It was sad to see it go. (Sears actually hung around for a good while after the rest of the building was torn down around it before moving to Bowie). The Mall at Prince George's (aka PG Plaza) seems to be somewhat successful with all the new development surrounding it.

Regarding DC, I didn't even know Georgetown had a mall lol and I definitely wouldn't call Union Station "thriving" unless you're referring to foot traffic.

As for Virginia, Pentagon City is still great. Tysons Corner is an eyesore but still successful (and will soon be the only mall(s) for Fairfax's 1 million residents). Haven't been to Potomac Mills in a long time, but I've heard its declined a lot. Springfield Mall is a joke and should have been knocked down 3 years ago.

As a side note, I didn't realize Simon had sold Lakeforest already. Does anyone know who it was sold to?

by King Terrapin on Mar 27, 2012 4:35 pm • linkreport

@Alan F

The Springfield metro was built mainly to serve people from the surrounding area get to their jobs closer to DC. While some people take the metro to the mall, most shoppers come to the mall from the areas w/o metro access and at the end of the line, it's not all that convenient or worthwhile for people farther away who'd be more open to taking metro.

A lot of people park their cars at Springfield Mall and walk to the Metro. And, there are shuttles that you can take to/from the Metro. It's a 10-15 minute walk from the Metro to the Mall. It's not great, but a lot of people do it, and the proximity of the mall to Metro is trivial IMO with respect to this story.

A lot of people actually incorrectly blame the proximity of Metro for why Springfield Mall is in the shape it's in.

The main reason why Springfield Mall has deteriorated is because the demographics in the immediate area have changed. It's not as wealthy and has more working class people and working class immigrants than before. Springfield Mall and Fair Oaks Mall used to be comparable, but the area around Fair Oaks Mall hasn't become more run down as a whole and there has been more middle and upper-middle class development in the past 10-15 years or so. Springfield Mall could have avoided this problem had they been able to secure some good tenants I think, but they didn't and ended up just getting squeezed out considering the other shopping destinations in the area.

by Vik on Mar 27, 2012 4:40 pm • linkreport

2000 Pennsylvania Ave?

by Lucre on Mar 27, 2012 4:41 pm • linkreport

@King Terrapin

Potomac Mills has declined, but it staved off failure and has somewhat recovered.

Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax still does plenty of business as well.

by Vik on Mar 27, 2012 4:42 pm • linkreport

Springfield Mall & Springfield Metro: It's not that close, but there is a bus that runs between the mall and the Metro. At least there was a few years ago when I tried this. The trip from the Metro to the mall wasn't bad, but the return trip was a miserable experience, first trying to locate the bus stop then standing out in a bus shelter in the parking lot waiting 20 minutes for a bus. It might have been slightly better if it hadn't been pouring rain and everyone waiting for the bus was standing on the bench to get out of the rain and puddle splashing. I don't think it would be an easy walk.

Beacon Mall/Beacon Center: Sometime in the 1920s the government put a light tower on this hill that was a beacon for US Air Mail pilots, Airway Beacon No. 55, then an airport that was eventually called Beacon Field Airport was put there. I arrived in the area after the Mall was gone and replaced with the current Beacon Center. Pity there isn't a movie theater there anymore though.

by Another Josh on Mar 27, 2012 5:04 pm • linkreport

You missed New Carrollton Mall. It was demolished 5-8 years ago (I think) and the site is now anchored by a Lowes. It was at the intersection of Annapolis and Riverdale Roads. When it was open, it had a grocery store, a movie theatre, and definitely a central hallway.

by Eric Sibley on Mar 27, 2012 8:40 pm • linkreport

Forgot Forestville Mall in PG County off Pennsylvania Ave.

The one thing that bothers me about town centers is the public restrooms or lack of them. In most town centers the only restrooms you find are in food establishments and many times it says customers only.

What determines between thriving and surviving; are we going by people, profits or stores ?

The times I have been to Montgomery, Wheaton and PG Plaza; Wheaton has had more people in it followed by PG Plaza and Montgomery.

by kk on Mar 27, 2012 9:35 pm • linkreport

Penn 2000 in Foggy Bottom, small indoor mall

by Gus on Mar 27, 2012 10:08 pm • linkreport

Grumpy -

I buy much of, actually most of my clothes at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc. but none of those sprout like mushrooms on the dungheaps of dying malls, only Burlington Coat Factory.

Also, sad to see the role that racial fears has played in the demise of many malls.

by Frank IBC on Mar 28, 2012 12:36 am • linkreport

Rolling Valley Mall in Burke appears to have had an enclosed section that has mostly been de-malled. There's a remainder of the interior corridor you must go through to get to the auto parts store.

by Terry K. on Mar 28, 2012 12:58 am • linkreport

While it may be true Springfield Mall has been mismanaged of late, it never truly thrived from the day it opened. They never managed to attract the high quality anchor stores. When Korvette's is one of your anchors (as it was for years), you're going to struggle.

As far back as the mid-1970s, the Time Out video arcade (is it still there?) seemed to attract more people than all the other shops combined.

by c5karl on Mar 28, 2012 8:56 am • linkreport

I could have sworn I posted this yesterday evening, but I don't see it here so I'll try again.

Springfield Mall actually used to get significant traffic from Metro users. Since it was a destination for those who used Metro, they were more likely to actually make purchases. It's not a bad walk from the Metro station to the mall (Vornado insists they will make improvements and have more frequent shuttles...). Of course the parking is free so it's popular for Metro parking too.

There actually hasn't been a significant change in demographics surrounding Springfield Mall during its decline. There were times when the ownership was trying to sell and didn't invest in the mall and other times when management was content with leases expiring for construction to begin. This has been stretched over a period of more than 10 years now. Unfortunately, many like to shift blame towards the people in and around the mall instead of looking at the mall itself. That has hurt the reputation of the mall and the area.

@King Terrapin: I would actually say Potomac Mills has turned around quite a bit in recent years. It's barely an "outlet" mall, but it is much nicer than what it was years ago and I would put it above the Westfields and especially Arrundel Mills.

I mentioned the theater in a comment a couple weeks ago, Another Josh, but it is worth mentioning it was a small discount theater. It was a cheap little place that would get movies that had been out for a while. I enjoyed going there every now and then.

by selxic on Mar 28, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport


Springfield Mall in the 1990's was definitely thriving, at least as much as Fair Oaks Mall has been.

Macy's, Sears, JCPenney, and the movie theater were decent enough anchors to keep it doing well for a good number of years. But, I agree that there weren't enough high quality tenants in the 2000's for it to survive.


There has been a change in the demographics in Springfield since the mid-late 90's or so to today. You can say that the people aren't responsible for the decline, which I happen to agree a lot with, but the demographics have changed. It's also not as safe as it used to be. A lot of people who used to go to Springfield Mall in the Springfield, Burke, and Fairfax Station areas opt to go to Fair Oaks in part due to some stores, but the retail experience at the two malls wasn't significantly different during part of Springfield's decline, whereas the area become a bit less safe. It's not just the Springfield Mall in this area of Springfield that has deteriorated. Management is definitely a big issue. Demographics and management are a lot bigger factors than Metro in this equation.

I don't know for sure what effect the growth of Kingstowne had on Springfield Mall's ability to thrive, but if all that development were closer to the mall the way it is near Potomac Mills, the Mall might have been able to survive as is.

by Vik on Mar 28, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

I may be remembering this wrong, but I recall plans for new theaters at Springfield Mall before the town center concepts were completed. That is the only thing I can imagine being hurt by Kingstowne although new theaters were always supposed to be a first priority with renovation even before the old theaters were closed...

by selxic on Mar 28, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

The timing of this story is really strange, was just talking about malls closing with my friend. Owings Mills Mall outside of Baltimore will close later this year. Not that I'm a big fan of malls, but it feels like I'm losing an old friend. That mall was such a big deal when it opened, was Maryland's version of Tysons Corner—very high-end. Can't believe it is closing in only 25 years! Plan on seeing it one last time before it shudders.

That whole area needs help…

by Frank on Mar 28, 2012 11:31 am • linkreport

This is a great site too…

by Frank on Mar 28, 2012 11:37 am • linkreport

"Slightly random question - but why is it that nearly every dead mall seems to have a Burlington Coat Factory thriving amidst the ruins?"

by Frank IBC

Burlington Coat Factory is a harbinger of a dying mall. Seriously.

by Frank on Mar 28, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

FYI--New Carollton mall operated 1973-2000.

by Jim T on Mar 28, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

You forgot National Place and the Mall that includes Embassy Suites in Friendship Heights. I would say both are struggling to failing, with hardly any retail stores other than CVS, cell phone stores, fast food, etc.

by EllenG on Mar 28, 2012 2:39 pm • linkreport

This is an interesting article, but I can tell by your ratings that you have not been to some of these malls recently. Wheaton just opened a huge H&M, and they have a Dicks Sporting Goods and Costco opening in October. That seems like more than surviving, lol. I think you should look into how enclosed malls are changing to keep up with online shopping, big boxes, etc. Wheaton and PG Plaza both have Targets, and Wheaton is adding Costco. It seems like "if you can't beat them, join them".

by Darrick on Mar 28, 2012 5:29 pm • linkreport

Out of curiosity, would Arundel Mills be considered to be "thriving?" The place is always packed, but ohmygod, it feels like pure despair.

by andrew on Mar 28, 2012 8:36 pm • linkreport

I decided to go ahead and make a list of the existing Baltimore area malls (plus the malls in Frederick and Southern MD, which are part of the DC Area but not on the map):

Francis Scott Key Mall
Frederick, Frederick County

Frederick Towne Mall
Frederick, Frederick County
status-surviving (barely, with Bon-Ton and Boscov's as anchors)
St. Charles Towne Center
Waldorf, Charles County
status-not really a mall since its small and lacks the typical acres of parking and large anchors, but thriving

Mondawmin Mall

Reistertown Road Plaza

The Rotunda
status-in the process of being redeveloped
Arundel Mills
Hanover, Anne Arundel County

Marley Station
Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel

Westfield Annapolis (Annapolis Mall)
Annapolis, Anne Arundel County
Hunt Valley Town Centre
Hunt Valley, Baltimore County
status-never did well, demolished in 2000 and converted into thriving town center

Owings Mills Mall
Owings Mills, Baltimore County
status-currently surviving; slated for demolition in 2013

Security Square Mall
Woodlawn, Baltimore County

The Shops at Keliworth
Towson, Baltimore County
status-thriving (according to the owners)

Towson Marketplace
Towson, Baltimore County
status-converted into big box stores

Towson Town Center
Towson, Baltimore County

White Marsh Mall
White Marsh, Baltimore County
TownMall of Westminster
Westminster, Carroll County
Harford Mall
Bel Air, Harford County
The Mall in Columbia (Columbia Mall)
Columbia, Howard County

by King Terrapin on Mar 29, 2012 1:02 am • linkreport

Parole Plaza
Annapolis, Anne Arundel County
Status - never enclosed, but notable because it had Woodward & Lothrop as its anchor. It was mostly abandoned by 1999 and demolished in 2004. Annapolis Towne Centre was built in its place.

Eudowood Shopping Center
Towson, Baltimore County
Status - started as an open-air shopping center, was converted to an enclosed mall in the 1980s, was later replaced by an open-air shopping center, Towson Marketplace.

Golden Ring Mall
Eastern Baltimore County
status - demolished and replaced by open-air shopping center, "The Centre at Golden Ring".

Westview Mall
Catonsville, Baltimore County
status - started as an outdoor strip mall, later enclosed, indoor section demolished in 2002, replaced by big-box stores. The anchors stores, Hutlzers and Stewarts, now defunct, were also replaced by big-box stores.

If I were dictator, the words "Towne", "Centre", "Shoppingtowne", and "The Shoppes At..." would be banned.

by Frank IBC on Mar 29, 2012 6:22 am • linkreport

I couldn't agree more about Arundel Mills, andrew. I hate that place with a passion. It's obviously doing well, but I wish it would fail everyday. That place is a disaster. It's everything that is bad about Potomac Mills multiplied seventy-six times. Unfortunately, the casino will only make it more of a crowded destination.

by selxic on Mar 29, 2012 7:34 am • linkreport

In Baltimore, Towson Town Center is king. Columbia, White Marsh, and Arundel Mills are chugging along fine. Owings Mills is dying, and Mondawmin and Security have found a way to suceed despite challenges. Mondawmin has Baltimore City's only Target which draws people who'd otherwise avoid that whole area (not exactly the nicest part of town) like the plague. Security turned part of its mall into Seoul Plaza, which serves the sizable Korean community in nearby Ellicott City.

by Answer Guy on Mar 29, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

The Chevy Chase Arcade was mentioned earlier this small mall was once thriving it's in a neighborhood of loyal shoppers with lots of money. However when a new owner bought it and wanted to upgrade the stores to Ultra-lux just because he overpayed for the building that did not work. He lives in Bethesda and had his dreams but they were not for the locals. So many of the longtime business closed and he had to take over ownership of a sinking salon.
It's greed that has done it!

by Thomas Jay on Mar 29, 2012 9:33 am • linkreport

You forgot Forest Villiage Park Mall, on Rt 4 in Forestville, MD. It is just inside the beltway in PG county.

by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

@YTB: That would typically be a fair characterization -- but consider that:
- no new suburban regional shopping malls have opened in the US since 2006, years before the recession
- given the years of lead time necessary to build a mall, that implies that malls fell out of fashion at least a decade ago
- annual mall openings nationally fell by half after 1992, from 10+ a year to 5-6 a year, then dropping to 1-2 and finally zero

Given the number of malls that have closed, malls have been trending in reverse for almost 20 years now. They were sputtering in the mid/late 1990s, and over the 2000s I'd bet that many more have closed than opened. This isn't some short-lived, newfangled fad, this is a seriously big shift in how Americans shop (and, in a consumer society, live).

Retail was the first property sector to see a huge momentum shift away from Edge Cities. Now that momentum in the office and residential markets has shifted away from the suburbs, it's hard to argue that drivable suburbia is still what Americans demand.

by Payton on Mar 29, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

I will say that even I was really surprised to see that over 40% of enclosed malls built in this region have subsequently failed -- but that's probably only because our relatively strong real estate market quickly redevelops their sites. Stagnant or declining cities are littered with the carcasses of dead malls.

by Payton on Mar 29, 2012 2:55 pm • linkreport

"Retail was the first property sector to see a huge momentum shift away from Edge Cities. Now that momentum in the office and residential markets has shifted away from the suburbs, it's hard to argue that drivable suburbia is still what Americans demand."

if all of that was shifts to cities, or at least to "neo urban" suburban centers, I would agree - but a lot of the shift is to the internet, or to big box, or to surban lifestyle centers (which have SOME more urban/small town charecteristics, but are OFTEN much like outdoor malls, with the usual seas of parking) So Im not sure retail is really leading the shift away from edge city - if anything Id say in DC residential is (unless of course the indoor mall is considered definitional to edge city, which is a matter of debate, I guess)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 29, 2012 3:31 pm • linkreport

Beltway Plaza is definetly dying. Most of the traffic is there for Giant and Target, while the center hallway is mostly filled with jewelry stands and braiding salons. In addition, last year the space held by Gallo Clothing got replaced with a "Big Lots" wholesale liquidator. Oh yeah, and there's a Burlington Coat Factory.

by Steve on Mar 30, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

@ Payton:

Very interesting and informative comment. I disagree slightly with this part of it though, particularly as it relates to DC:

"Retail was the first property sector to see a huge momentum shift away from Edge Cities. Now that momentum in the office and residential markets has shifted away from the suburbs, it's hard to argue that drivable suburbia is still what Americans demand."

If anything, the edge cities around DC are still growing along with DC. Yeah, outer suburbs are slowly, but surely starting to decline, but urban centers outside of DC like Silver Spring, Bethesda, Ballston/Rosslyn/Courthouse, White Flint/North Bethesda, Rockville, and soon Tysons Corner and Wheaton are rapidly growing with office and residential high rises (especially the latter in MD) shooting up rapidly around transit stations.

That said, NoMa in DC is probably growing faster than all of those areas, and some edge cities like Crystal City, have seen declines. Still I'll think edge cities will continue to be a draw for residents and offices who want to be near to, but not in DC for any number of reasons such as a better business environment in VA, no height limit on office buildings in MD/VA, etc.

by King Terrapin on Mar 30, 2012 3:24 pm • linkreport

Memories of Rockville Mall -

My mom buying me a seemingly unlimited supply of Carter's boys' underwear at the Lansburgh's going-out-of-business sale in the spring of 1973. The store had only opened a year and four months earlier, in February 1972.

And just 6-7 months later, my mom buying Christmas tree balls at Lit's, which had moved into the former Lansburgh's location but quickly failed, in December 1973.

by Frank IBC on Mar 30, 2012 5:50 pm • linkreport

Clarification/addition to last post - at Lit's liquidation sale.

by Frank IBC on Mar 30, 2012 5:58 pm • linkreport

EdTheRed, yes, there was definitely an airfield there before the mall was built. Check out for more info (click the links on left side for tons of pictures).

For what it's worth, Giant was there by itself for about 15 years before the mall was built. Also, when the mall opened in 74, the original store at the south end was a Woolco. Marshalls opened later.

My favorite two places there were Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream and the movie theater. Used to sneak in and see the R-rated movies as a teenager, whoo-hoo :)

by James on Jul 20, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

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