Augusta Mall – The Beginnings
Nestled in Augusta, Georgia, the Augusta Mall has been a go-to shopping destination for residents since it opened on August 3, 1978.
Developed by The Rouse Company and managed by Brookfield Properties, it is one of the largest malls in Georgia and the largest in the Augusta metropolitan area.
With 149 stores and services spread about 1,100,000 sq ft (102,000 m2), the mall houses five open anchor tenants: Macy’s, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Barnes & Noble, and one vacant anchor store previously occupied by Sears.
Augusta Mall’s design elements were inspired by other successful malls created by The Rouse Company. For example, the space frame ceiling replicates Governor’s Square Mall, The Mall in Columbia, Hulen Mall, and Tampa Bay Center.
At the same time, the center fountain and elevator were taken from Beachwood Place, which opened the same month as Augusta Mall.
Expansions and Renovations
Over the years, the Augusta Mall has witnessed numerous expansions and renovations, transforming it into the shopping hub it is today:
First Expansion: J.C. Penney
In 1987, a 132,000-square-foot expansion was added to accommodate J.C. Penney. The addition of this famous department store marked the beginning of Augusta Mall’s expansion journey, bringing more shopping options to residents.
Second Expansion: Sears and Interior Update
A 1990 renovation made Sears the fourth anchor, with a 157,000-square-foot store. In addition, the mall’s interior received a $32 million makeover, providing a contemporary and inviting appearance that attracted shoppers.
Third Expansion: J.B. White and Traffic Improvements
By 1998, the third expansion saw J.B. White, now Dillard’s, relocate to Augusta Mall from the now-defunct Regency Mall.
Traffic issues arose on Wrightsboro Road and Interstate 520, the primary freeway connecting to the mall. As a result, the city funded a $231,000 project for expanded lanes, road improvements, and new exit ramps to the mall.
Fourth Expansion: Augusta Promenade
In 2006, the “Augusta Promenade” lifestyle center addition was announced, with a grand opening in 2007. This 180,000 sq ft (17,000 m2) expansion included a mix of upscale stores, restaurants, and outdoor spaces that provided visitors with a fresh and contemporary shopping experience.
Memorable Moments of the Augusta Mall
Over the years, Augusta Mall has been the site of various events and incidents:
In October 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle held a rally at the mall during the final stretch of the 1992 United States presidential election. Over 5,000 supporters showed up, well above the expectation for 1,000 attendants, showcasing the mall’s importance as a gathering place for the community.
In 2002, Augusta Mall underwent infrastructure upgrades, including storm drain maintenance and a new parking lot. These improvements demonstrated the mall’s commitment to providing visitors with a safe and convenient shopping experience.
In 2007, a shocking event occurred when a man drove his car into the mall. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the incident. In April 2017, a group of men robbed the Apple Inc. store at the mall.
In 2018, the mall began to be powered by a 435-kilowatt rooftop solar panel system, highlighting its dedication to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact.
On October 3, 2020, a tragic shooting occurred at the mall, resulting in one death and one injury. The event shook the community and highlighted the importance of safety and security measures in public spaces like Augusta Mall. Since then, the mall has increased its security presence and implemented additional safety measures to ensure the well-being of visitors and employees.
Store Openings, Closings, and Relocations
Augusta Mall has seen various stores open, close, or relocate throughout its history. Some notable changes include:
- In January 2013, Abercrombie & Fitch shuttered its doors.
- In January 2016, Vans, Torrid, and Rue21 revealed plans to open locations within the mall.
- In January 2017, Buca di Beppo, which opened in February 2012, closed its establishment.
- In April 2018, Williams Sonoma vacated its mall location.
- In September 2018, QC Nails Salon unveiled its intention to open a 4,500-square-foot spot in the mall.
- On February 8, 2020, the upcoming closure of Sears was announced as part of a nationwide plan to shut down 39 stores, with the mall’s store closing in April 2020.
Augusta Fest: A Local Favorite
In February 2023, Augusta Fest returned to the mall, bringing joy and excitement to the community. Presented by Reithoffer Shows, the carnival featured thrilling rides, delicious food, and games for all ages. With gates open Monday through Friday at 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm, attendees could purchase tickets at the gate or online, with free admission for children aged four and younger.
Rides and Attractions
The fun-filled carnival boasted more than a dozen rides for visitors to enjoy. There was something for everyone, from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to classic Ferris wheels. The event also catered to young children, with plenty of kiddie rides available for them to have fun.
Food and Games
In addition to the exciting rides, Augusta Fest featured a variety of food vendors, offering delicious carnival treats like funnel cakes, cotton candy, and corn dogs. Visitors could also try their luck at numerous games, including ring toss and balloon darts, with the chance to win exciting prizes.
The Augusta Mall has stood the test of time, evolving and growing to remain a beloved shopping destination for locals. Its rich history, expansions, and memorable moments continue to be a cornerstone of the Augusta community.
As the mall looks towards the future, it remains committed to providing an enjoyable shopping experience for visitors while adapting to the changing retail landscape.