A Storied Retail Haven: Oglethorpe Mall
Located on the south side of Savannah, Georgia, the Oglethorpe Mall has been a beloved shopping destination for locals and visitors alike for more than five decades.
Named in honor of General James Oglethorpe, the founder of Savannah, the mall has evolved since its inception in 1969 to become a nearly one-million-square-foot retail haven.
Boasting a range of retail options, from big-name anchors to popular eateries, the Oglethorpe Mall has established itself as a key player in the local economy.
The mall is currently anchored by three major department stores: Belk, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s, with a vacant fourth anchor spot. In addition to these retail giants, the mall features junior anchors such as H&M, Barnes & Noble, DSW, Old Navy, and Crunch Fitness.
Owned and operated by Brookfield Properties, the Oglethorpe Mall is a testament to the company’s commitment to providing exceptional shopping experiences.
The Chippewa Tract: Birth of a Shopping Icon
The mall’s history is rooted in the Chippewa Tract, a parcel of land created by a 1960 subdivision of former farmland. Scott Hudgens, an Atlanta-based developer, broke ground on the project in 1968, with Sears and Belk constructing their stores alongside the mall.
Oglethorpe Mall opened in April 1969 at 7804 Abercorn Street, becoming Savannah’s first enclosed, air-conditioned shopping center. At the time, its main anchors were Belk-Beery, McCrory, Adler’s, and Sears, and it housed the city’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant.
By 1974, the mall had expanded to include 25,000 square feet of retail space. Further growth came in 1982 when a 230,000-square-foot expansion was completed, featuring J.C. Penney and a local department store, Levy’s.
Over the years, the mall has undergone numerous changes in store closures, acquisitions, and rebrandings, yet it has remained a steadfast symbol of retail success in Savannah.
Timeline of Major Events at Oglethorpe Mall
|Oglethorpe Mall opens
|The mall expands by 25,000 square feet
|Significant renovation begins
|Savannah Mall opens
|Barnes & Noble opens
|A new food court opens
|Rich’s becomes Macy’s
|DSW moves in, and Sears closes
|Crunch Fitness opens
Modernization and Revitalization: 1989-2009
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Oglethorpe Mall faced increased competition from other shopping centers in the area, such as the planned Southlake Mall and the eventual Savannah Mall. As a result, a significant renovation began in 1989 to modernize the mall’s aesthetic and overall experience.
The mall embraced a coastal design, featuring whitewashed wood, tabby walls, and lighter paint while installing skylights to bring in more natural light. In addition, a new tile floor, which would go on to win design awards, and a two-level parking garage were installed.
Throughout the 2000s, Oglethorpe Mall continued to evolve as stores closed or changed hands, and the Abercorn Street façade received extensive upgrades. Notable changes included the conversion of The Promenade into a Barnes & Noble, opening a new food court in 2002, and transitioning Rich’s into Macy’s in 2005.
During this time, the mall also introduced several new retailers, such as Build-A-Bear Workshop, Aldo, Nine West, Forever 21, and Hollister Co.
A New Decade: Oglethorpe Mall in the 2010s and Beyond
As the calendar turned to the 2010s, the Oglethorpe Mall continued to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing retail landscape. In March 2016, the long-standing Piccadilly Cafeteria closed after 47 years of business, allowing DSW to move in during 2018.
That same year, Sears announced it would close its doors in November as part of a nationwide plan to shutter 46 stores. Oglethorpe Mall underwent its most significant renovation since 2002, which included an updated logo, new street signs, and refreshed tile flooring in certain areas.
By 2020, Stein Mart had closed its doors as the company went through liquidation. However, the mall found a new tenant in Crunch Fitness, which opened in the fall of 2022 after the space had been temporarily occupied by Overstock Furniture & Mattress in 2021.
Furthermore, in February 2022, developer Madison Capital received approval to rezone the former Sears tract for multi-family use, paving the way for the anchor building to be demolished and replaced with more than 200 apartments.
Visiting Oglethorpe Mall Today
With a rich history and a continued commitment to providing an exceptional shopping experience, the Oglethorpe Mall remains a popular destination for shoppers in Savannah and beyond. The mall features a total retail floor area of 944,000 square feet, housing 120 stores and services and offering ample parking with 5,350 spaces, including a parking deck.
The mall has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1969. Its ongoing growth and evolution are a testament to its enduring appeal as a premier shopping destination in Savannah, Georgia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the anchor stores at Oglethorpe Mall?
A: The mall currently has three anchor stores: Belk, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s, with a vacant fourth anchor spot.
Q: How many stores and services are available at the mall?
A: Oglethorpe Mall features 120 stores and services, catering to a wide range of shopping and dining preferences.
Q: What is the total retail floor area of the mall?
A: The mall has a total retail floor area of 944,000 square feet.
Q: How many parking spaces are available at the mall?
A: Oglethorpe Mall offers 5,350 parking spaces, including a parking deck for shoppers’ convenience.
Q: Are there any recent changes or upcoming developments at the mall?
A: Recent developments include opening Crunch Fitness in Fall 2022 and rezoning the former Sears space for multi-family use, bringing more than 200 apartments to the area.