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Map of Washington's closed and enclosed malls, version 2

The map of enclosed malls that I posted last week provoked a strong discussion in the comments. Readers made a number of useful suggestions, which I incorporated into this second draft.

Updated map.

The comments generally fell into 2 categories: questions about the definitions, and malls that should be added to the map.


For the purposes of this map, an "enclosed mall" is defined as a shopping center in which there is a row of small retail shops that are primarily accessed by pedestrians via an interior walkway. The two key components are small shops and an interior walkway.

Buildings with interior spaces that consist primarily of large format retailers (such as the Pentagon Centre or DCUSA) are not malls for this purpose. Neither are spaces that are primarily food courts. Basically, to qualify as a mall for this map, a shopping center should have a space that looks generally like this.

Additions and subtractions

This second draft includes the following malls that were left out of the first: La Promenade (DC), Waterside (DC), Free State (Bowie), Livingston (Ft Washington), Chevy Chase Pavilion (DC), National Place (DC), Beacon Mall (Mount Vernon), 2000 Pennsylvania Ave (DC), New Carrollton Mall (New Carrollton), Centre at Forestville (Forestville), Rolling Valley Mall (Burke).

The only mall I subtracted from the original map was Virginia Square, which had a department store but apparently never an enclosed row of smaller shops.

I also removed references to "thriving" and "surviving" from the table in the legend, since that was subjective and unclear.

Notable omissions

Shopping centers that could be considered malls but that don't meet the definition I used for this map include DCUSA, Old Post Office Pavilion, Gallery Place, Pentagon Centre, and the terminals at National and Dulles airports. The airports might technically meet the definition, but they're obviously a different animal.

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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Regarding Beacon Mall, and the uncertain status as to whether it was converted or demolished, I think the answer is "both". I had an internship/contract with SFDC and remember coming across some old files and photos. I think they gutted out the center of it and built the structure of the existing Lowes. The other structural parts on the ends were "converted. Using the historical Google Earth views back to about 2000 show the before and after footprints. Also note how the back of the strip has large areas of now useless parking. When it was an enclosed mall with entrances all around, this made sense. I drove around the back once, and I seem to recall being able to tell where some of the entrances once were.

Beacon Center is a primo site for mixed-use redevelopment, but my understanding is that it is very financially successful to the owner so at this point they aren't interested in change.

by Bill Cook on Apr 2, 2012 12:55 pm • linkreport

When the Old Post Office Pavilion opened it had a number of small shops, in addition to the food vendors. It was about as much of a mall as National Place and certainly a more substantial mall than 2000 Pennsylvania.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane (or memory corridor).

by jimble on Apr 2, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

If you're including Potomac Mills, shouldn't you also include Arundel Mills and Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis (a/ka/a Annapolis Mall)? By the way, I think the proper name for Montgomery Mall is Westfield Shoppingtown Montgomery.

by Challenger on Apr 2, 2012 1:08 pm • linkreport

Frankly, I would have ignored the fans of insignificant places like Beacon and the Old Post Office. Now people want you to add a county. It also misses the point of how retail has been evolving in the DC area. It might be more helpful to compare DC with other metros that have grown considerably in the last 40-50 years (the "mall era").

by Rich on Apr 2, 2012 1:26 pm • linkreport

I think the ratio of open malls to closed ones when up to 70/30 now. However, a lot of those open malls are becoming pretty marginal and I don't think any one is going to be looking to build a fully enclosed mall in this area for a long time.

by Canaan on Apr 2, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

Seven Corners was definitely converted. The old mall had two levels, with the lower level opening on the south side and the upper level opening on the north side, just like the current strip mall. The bones of the old mall are still underneath there.

by c5karl on Apr 2, 2012 2:12 pm • linkreport

I had been trying to make a comment that was similar to what Bill Cook for quite some time on BeyondDC, but was having issues with the login. I wish I had saved it for here. Beacon was kinda sorta partially demolished between the Marshall's and Giant. The Lowe's does use some of the mall's footprint, but it extends much farther back than the original mall. Of course more stores and restaurants have been added to the parking lots as well.

by selxic on Apr 2, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the comments. A few responses:

- The ration is still about 40%. 17/42 (40.5%) instead of 13/31 (41.9%).

- The Anne Arundel County stuff is just outside the geography I used. You've got to stop somewhere.

- I don't remember anything other than the very lamest tourist tchotchke stores in the Old Post Office, but I could be wrong.

- I felt I had to include malls like Beacon because the original map included places like Fair City Mall that have always been quite small. I could cull all those out and produce a map with only the larger regional malls, although I don't know how I'd define them. Number of stores, I guess. But that info might not always be available for the older ones.

by BeyondDC on Apr 2, 2012 3:51 pm • linkreport


by BeyondDC on Apr 2, 2012 3:51 pm • linkreport

Looks like the inner suburb malls of Virginia tend to be the real losers. Ballston, Crystal City, etc. survived by proximity to Metro stations. Malls in north-central Prince George's County seem to have fared badly as well (except those closest to UMD), probably due to lower incomes and high crime rates in the area.

by Dale on Apr 2, 2012 4:22 pm • linkreport

I think a better term for many of the previously encolsed-malls-turned-shopping centers in Northern Virginia is "repurposed" or "redeveloped" rather than closed. Closed implies that the mall (or space/land) is sitting vacant. That is not the case for the red dots of Northern Virginia. All have been redeveloped. Of special note is Fair City Mall that went through a significant expansion when it was converted from an enclosed mall to higher density retail development about 15 or so years ago. The same could be said for Seven Corners. When it was first constructed in the 1960s (?) it was the Tyson's Corner of its time. It too has been redeveloped and has all stores rented (except for the old Syms which closed in January due to bankruptcy).

by Matt on Apr 2, 2012 4:37 pm • linkreport

What happened to Penn-Mar in Forestville?

by rebecca on Apr 2, 2012 6:09 pm • linkreport

A good criterion for defining a larger regional mall might be the presence of an anchor department store. The smaller malls tended to be anchored by grocers, not department stores.

by c5karl on Apr 2, 2012 9:51 pm • linkreport

More than once I went to the giant sign proclaiming "Mall Entrance" on the East end of the strip mall where Safeway used to be near the Rhode Island Ave. station, trying to figure out if there was an interior mall somewhere I could enter this way (if there was, I never found it).

by Lucre on Apr 2, 2012 10:45 pm • linkreport

This has me thinking about malls like Cabin John in Maryland. While also a strip center, it has enclosed stores in part of the building. Does that qualify?

by dctravel on Apr 3, 2012 8:03 am • linkreport

Didn't think you'd edit it, so I didn't comment that Bowie had 2 small, enclosed malls across from one another. Free State, which you've marked, and Market Place which was also on MD 450. Market Place is still there, but entirely empty except for a Safeway, Rite Aid and Glory Days Grill.

Gazette article about Market Place from last year. Don't think any work has actually been done.

by Frank on Apr 3, 2012 9:21 am • linkreport

Would St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf qualify? St. Charles gets a lot of traffic from the Southern Maryland and Southern Prince George's region.

by Selwyn on Apr 3, 2012 9:27 am • linkreport

You can use this link to ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) to get a pdf with definitions of the various types of shopping centers and malls. ICSC should be the definitive source:

by Challenger on Apr 3, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

In the Notes next to number 10, Chevy Chase Arcade,
you say that it is a 19th Century Arcade. The
architecture may be from the 19th Century; but
the Chevy Chase Arcade was actually built in the
1920s, which of course is part of the 20th Century.
It may be the oldest arcade (or oldest surviving
arcade) in the Washington area.

by Jeff Norman on Apr 3, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

Nice update, but its still missing Southern MD/Frederick and Baltimore Area malls (all of which I listed in the comments section of the last post).

by King Terrapin on Apr 3, 2012 12:17 pm • linkreport

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