Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE – From Retail Haven to Demolition Site

The Tri-State Mall was a prominent shopping destination in Claymont, Delaware, on Delaware Route 92, also known as “Naamans Road.”

The mall was a hub of activity, featuring approximately fifty stores spread over 535,000 square feet (49,700 m2). It was the state’s fourth-largest mall, with easy access from Interstate 95 and less than a mile from the Pennsylvania/Delaware border.

However, the mall’s glory days ended in November 2015 when it was forced to shut its doors permanently. Despite its impressive size and location, the mall could no longer attract customers, and its closure marked the end of an era for the Claymont community.

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, Delaware

Anchor stores

Wilmington Dry Goods 1967 – 1976
Grant City 1967 – 1976
Value City 1976 – 2008
Kmart 1976 – 2014
Burlington Coat Factory 2009 – 2017

A Journey Through the History of Tri-State Mall

The Tri-State Mall opened its doors in 1967, with Grant City and Wilmington Dry Goods as its primary anchor stores, the driving force behind its success.

Over the years, it became a hub of commerce in Claymont, Delaware, featuring various retail outlets, restaurants, and specialty stores that catered to the community’s needs.

In 1970, the mall added a new feather to its cap with the opening of the Cinemagic movie theater, a popular entertainment destination that attracted many visitors.

The mall continued to evolve in the following years, with Grant City transforming into Kmart in 1976 and Wilmington Dry Goods becoming Value City.

Unfortunately, the latter was forced to close its doors in 2008 due to the chain’s bankruptcy, and Burlington Coat Factory eventually replaced the space.

The mall’s appeal extended beyond Claymont’s boundaries, attracting visitors from nearby Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who were attracted by Delaware’s tax-free shopping and its convenient location off Interstate 95.

The Decline of Tri-State Mall: A Tale of Challenges and Change

As the Tri-State Mall entered the 1990s, it grappled with new challenges that would ultimately mark the beginning of its decline.

The emergence of more significant and modern shopping destinations in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania directly threatened the mall’s relevance, drawing shoppers away from its aging structure and outdated offerings.

Moreover, increased crime levels in Claymont and neighboring communities, including the nearby Pennsylvania towns of Chester and Marcus Hook, created a sense of unease among shoppers and deterred potential visitors.

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These factors contributed to a gradual decline in foot traffic and revenue, leading to the closure of several stores and ultimately accelerating the mall’s downfall.

In early December 2014, the Kmart store, one of its anchor tenants, closed its doors, dealing another blow to the struggling mall.

In June 2016, Claymont residents began exploring options for the redevelopment of the area, including the mall, to revitalize the community.

By August 2017, the mall was left without anchors when the Burlington Coat Factory relocated to Rocky Run on Concord Pike. While a few stores continued to occupy the outdoor lower level, the upper-level indoor mall and the main parking lot remained unused until 2019.

In that year, a local manufacturing business took over the upper level. It transformed into a warehouse, while the lower level continued to function as a retail space for several stores as of January 2021.

Tri-State Mall’s Redevelopment Commences with the Demolition of the Levitz Building

In July 2021, the Tri-State Mall in Claymont experienced a momentous occasion after years of stagnation. A demolition claw made its way through the awning of the mall’s most dilapidated building, signaling a new beginning for the property.

The Levitz Furniture Outlet building, situated east of what remained of the Tri-State Mall on Naamans Road, had already suffered the effects of abandonment, with its roof bearing several holes.

The furniture outlet had closed a quarter-century ago, and within a month of the demolition claw’s arrival, the building had been reduced to rubble. This marked the first step in the mall’s new owners, KPR Centers.

KPR Centers intended to level all the buildings on the property, which spanned approximately 40 acres. The process of demolishing and rebuilding was estimated to take several years.

$50 Million Investment to Create Jobs and Open Space in Claymont Area

KPR Centers unveiled their plans to invest more than $50 million in a property in the Claymont area. The project, which includes a warehouse and 15,000 square feet of retail space along Naamans Road, was presented as a significant job creator that would build momentum toward further redevelopment.

The proposal also includes about 10 acres of green and open space, representing approximately a quarter of the entire property. This addition would provide much-needed open space to the community and add to the area’s overall appeal.

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Comments: 4
  1. Avatar of Janet Block
    Janet Block

    So: Is there a plan for the property?

    Reply
    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Yes, the proposed project includes a warehouse, 15,000 square feet of retail space along Naamans Road, and about 10 acres of green and open space. I updated the article.

      Reply
      1. Avatar of Coco
        Coco

        Is there a chance for the previous stores to come back?

        Reply
        1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
          Spencer Walsh (author)

          I’m not sure the planned 15,000 square feet of retail space are sufficient for the previous stores to return, but let’s wait and see.

          Reply
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