Camp Landing: Turning the Page for Kyova Mall in Ashland, KY

The Evolution of Kyova Mall: From Cedar Knoll Galleria to Camp Landing

The Inception of Cedar Knoll Galleria

Once upon a time, a new shopping mall sprouted on a former golf course site in the picturesque landscape of Cannonsburg, near Ashland, Kentucky.

Cedar Knoll Galleria opened its doors in October 1989, promising a new shopping era.

Developed by Zamias Services, Inc., the mall spanned approximately 600,000 square feet, initially featuring anchor stores like Sears, Phar-Mor, Stone & Thomas, and Kmart.

Imagine a bustling center filled with the latest fashions and gadgets and a theater planned to entertain countless shoppers.

Early Struggles and Decline

However, not everything went according to plan. Despite its advantageous position near Interstate 64, Cedar Knoll Galleria was challenged.

Over the years, the mall witnessed a series of store closures that dampened its appeal. The once lively corridors began to echo with the footsteps of a dwindling number of visitors.

Transition to Kyova Mall and Camp Landing

Fast forward to 2005, the mall now rebranded as Kyova Mall began a journey of transformation. Under new ownership, the mall saw renovations and the addition of new attractions like Phoenix Theatres.

But the challenges were far from over. The economic downturn and the later COVID-19 pandemic hit the mall hard, leading to more store closures.

But now, the mall, known as Camp Landing Entertainment District, has been reborn. It’s a place where families can find things to do in Ashland, Kentucky, ranging from cinema to indoor amusement parks.

Cedar Knoll Galleria – The Early Years

A Promising Start with a Twist

In the autumn of 1989, Cedar Knoll Galleria emerged as a beacon of commerce on a former golf course, its name echoing the site’s past.

With anchors like Sears and Kmart, the mall symbolized growth and potential. Shoppers flocked to explore its vast array of stores.

However, beneath this bustling surface, a challenge was simmering. The mall’s location, while scenic, was not as convenient for Ashland’s residents as the downtown Ashland Town Center.

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The Retail Struggle

As years passed, Cedar Knoll Galleria found itself in an increasingly difficult position. The nearby Walmart Supercenter, opened in 1994, further diverted the mall’s customer base.

The mall’s layout, with noticeable gaps between stores, reflected its struggle to attract and retain tenants. By 2001, the food court had lost its vibrancy, standing empty without restaurants.

The closure of Kmart in 2002, following its bankruptcy, and the departure of Phar-Mor the same year left gaping holes in the mall’s retail landscape.

Signs of Decline

The early 2000s marked a period of visible decline for Cedar Knoll Galleria. The absence of key stores turned once-busy walkways into quiet passages.

The Italian Oven restaurant, a popular spot, closed down due to licensing issues, further dampening the mall’s appeal.

This period reflected a trend in many American malls, where changing consumer habits and the rise of alternative shopping venues gradually eroded the traditional mall’s allure.

Despite its promising start, the Cedar Knoll Galleria could not escape this reality.

Kyova Mall Era – Attempts at Revival

A New Name and Renewed Hopes

In 2005, the winds of change blew through the corridors of the now-named Kyova Mall. Under the guidance of Eggleston Associates, a significant renovation effort was initiated.

A new roof was installed, symbolizing a fresh start—the mall, embracing its new identity, aimed to recapture the hearts of local shoppers.

This period sparked a glimmer of hope, with talks of a movie theater reviving the long-held dream of a cinema at the mall.

Revitalization Efforts and Community Engagement

2006 marked a pivotal year for Kyova Mall, with plans unveiled for a new movie theater complex. Phoenix Theatres opened a 10-screen theater in 2007 with modern “stadium seating” chairs.

This addition brought a noticeable increase in foot traffic. The mall’s management played a crucial role in advocating for the legalization of alcohol sales in Boyd County in 2007, aiming to boost business and attract new restaurants.

This move was a strategic effort to enhance the mall’s appeal as a social and entertainment hub.

Challenges Persist Despite Efforts

Despite these revitalization efforts, Kyova Mall continued to face challenges. The

2008 recession, the closure of anchor stores like Sears in 2014 and Elder-Beerman in 2018, and the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to more closures and reduced foot traffic.

These events underscored traditional shopping malls’ ongoing struggles to adapt to changing retail landscapes and consumer preferences.

Kyova Mall’s journey during this era was a testament to the challenges of reinventing retail spaces in a rapidly evolving market.

The Transformation into Camp Landing Entertainment District

A New Vision Emerges

In 2021, a significant chapter in the mall’s history unfolded. The sale of the Kyova Mall to a new ownership group marked the beginning of an ambitious redevelopment plan.

The vision for Camp Landing Entertainment District was bold and transformative. It aimed to convert the former mall into a vibrant sports, family fun, and entertainment hub.

This redevelopment signaled a shift from traditional retail to a more diverse and experiential offering.

The Renaissance of an Icon

Camp Landing Entertainment District brought an array of new facilities and attractions.

Plans included:

  • A convention center.
  • A hotel with a restaurant.
  • The exciting addition of Malibu Jack’s – a vast indoor amusement center. 

The existing KYOVA 10 Theatre underwent modernization, enhancing the movie-going experience.

These developments were not just about rebuilding; they represented a renaissance of a once-popular destination, adapting to the evolving preferences of consumers and the community.

Economic Revival and Community Impact

The mall’s transformation into Camp Landing Entertainment District was more than a physical renovation; it catalyzed economic revival in the region.

The new development promised to create jobs and boost local tourism. It stood as a beacon of hope and progress, symbolizing the resilience and adaptability of the community.

The transformation of this iconic space into a multi-use entertainment and commercial hub reflected a broader trend in repurposing traditional retail spaces to meet contemporary needs and lifestyles.

Camp Landing Entertainment District
Camp Landing Entertainment District

Main Tenants (2023)

The Camp Landing Entertainment District, formerly Kyova Mall, has evolved into a diverse and vibrant hub featuring entertainment, dining, and retail options. Here’s a closer look at its current tenants:

Malibu Jack’s: This Lexington-based indoor amusement center spans 135,000 square feet and offers various fun activities. It’s a family favorite, located in the space previously occupied by Elder-Beerman.

Malibu Jack’s is known for its thrilling attractions and engaging environment, making it a key draw for visitors to the district​.

The Cinema at Camp Landing: Formerly the KYOVA 10 Theatre, The Cinema at Camp Landing offers a modern movie-going experience.

Reopened in August, the cinema has become a central entertainment feature of Camp Landing, attracting movie enthusiasts with its state-of-the-art facilities and wide selection of films​.

Sandy’s Racing & Gaming: This casino opened on October 26, 2023, adding a unique dimension to the entertainment offerings at Camp Landing.

As a horse racing company, Sandy’s Racing & Gaming provides an exciting blend of gaming and race-themed entertainment that appeals to a broad audience​.

Smokin’ J’s Rib and Brewhouse: This restaurant replaced Callihan’s American Pub & Grill, offering a diverse menu focusing on ribs and brewed beverages.

Smokin’ J’s has quickly become a popular dining destination known for its great food and inviting atmosphere​.

Tap That Sports: This sports-centric venue is a major tenant, attracting sports fans and casual visitors alike.

It offers a lively environment where guests can enjoy sports viewing, food, and beverages, making it a go-to spot for sports enthusiasts and families​.

Rural King: A staple of the Camp Landing area, Rural King is a key retail anchor. Known for its wide range of products, from farm supplies to general merchandise, Rural King caters to a broad customer base, contributing to the district’s retail diversity​.

Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar: This dining spot features a diverse menu with gourmet wood-fired pizzas and fresh seafood from its raw bar.

The unique cooking style using wood in the oven and on the grill gives Backyard Pizza its distinctive flavor and appeal​​.

Hillbilly Hibachi: After years of operating as a catering service and food truck, Hillbilly Hibachi has opened its first permanent location in the food court at Camp Landing.

This Japanese-style eatery is a local favorite, known for its unique twist on traditional hibachi dishes​​.

Cowboys and Angels Western Wear: This store is one of the new additions to Camp Landing, adding a touch of Western flair to the district. It offers a range of Western wear and accessories​​.

Loco Fresh Burgers and Brews: Loco Fresh has revamped its offerings to include a variety of brews, acclaimed fries, and fresh burgers made with 100% beef, never frozen patties. The new sign, “Loco Fresh- Burgers and Brews,” reflects this exciting change​.

SPLITTIN’ HARES AXE THROWING: This unique entertainment venue offers axe-throwing experiences catering to groups, parties, and individual visitors. It’s an exciting addition to Camp Landing, providing guests with a fun and competitive activity.

Whit’s Frozen Custard: Renowned for its delicious frozen custard, Whit’s offers a variety of flavors and treats.

This dessert spot is a favorite among visitors to Camp Landing, contributing to the district’s appeal as a family-friendly destination.

Each of these tenants contributes to the unique character of Camp Landing Entertainment District, making it a dynamic destination for shopping, entertainment, and dining in Ashland, KY.

Ashland, KY
Ashland, KY” by Hillary Clinton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Future of Camp Landing Entertainment District

Expanding Horizons with New Developments

As we gaze into the future of the Camp Landing Entertainment District, a tapestry of new developments unfolds.

Plans include a convention center, sports complex, and a distillery, painting a picture of a vibrant and diverse destination.

The vision extends to creating one of the largest farmers markets in Eastern Kentucky, a place bustling with local produce and community events.

This forward-looking approach is poised to redefine the role of a traditional mall, transforming it into a dynamic center for commerce, leisure, and community engagement.

Embracing Opportunities and Challenges

The journey ahead for Camp Landing is one of both opportunities and challenges. The development plans aim to attract a broad audience, from families seeking entertainment to professionals looking for a unique business venue.

Including a residential area within the complex underscores a commitment to creating a multifaceted community space.

However, adapting to the changing retail landscape and meeting the evolving needs of consumers will require innovation and resilience.

The success of this ambitious project will depend on how well it can integrate these diverse elements into a cohesive and appealing destination.

The Role of Existing Businesses

In this new chapter, existing businesses like Rural King continue to play a crucial role. They provide a sense of continuity and stability as the area transforms.

The presence of established businesses is essential in maintaining customer loyalty and attracting new visitors.

Their adaptation and growth within the evolving framework of Camp Landing serve as a testament to the district’s potential for long-term success and sustainability.

Conclusion – Reflecting on the Transformation Journey

Summarizing the Mall’s Evolution

The story of Kyova Mall, now Camp Landing Entertainment District, is a tale of transformation and resilience.

From its early days as Cedar Knoll Galleria, facing location challenges and tenant retention issues, to its rebranding as Kyova Mall with efforts to revitalize, and finally, its rebirth as Camp Landing, this journey reflects the ever-changing landscape of retail and community spaces.

The Impact on Ashland and Beyond

This transformation has been more than just a physical change. It has revitalized a region, offering new entertainment, commerce, and community engagement opportunities.

The evolution of this space has mirrored broader economic and social shifts, showcasing adaptability and innovation in the face of change.

Looking Forward

As we look to the future, the Camp Landing Entertainment District is a beacon of possibility, embodying the spirit of transformation and renewal.

Its continued evolution will likely serve as a blueprint for other retail spaces navigating the dynamic world of consumer needs and preferences.

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