Fairlane Town Center Mall in Dearborn, MI – Nostalgic Journey Through Time

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Fairlane Town Center Mall has been a beloved shopping destination in the heart of Dearborn, Michigan, for over four decades. Developed by A. Alfred Taubman, it opened its doors on March 1, 1976, and quickly became a popular gathering spot for residents.

Those who have lived in the area for a while will fondly remember the mall’s unique features, such as the ice skating rink, the monorail system, and the various theaters and restaurants that have come and gone over the years.

Fairlane Town Center – The Golden Years

In its heyday, Fairlane Town Center boasted an impressive array of anchor stores, including Sears, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The mall was also home to the first Coffee Beanery, which opened its doors in 1978. Fairlane’s innovative design and diverse offerings made it a favorite destination for shoppers across the region.

Memorable Moments

  • The introduction of the Ford ACT elevated monorail cars in the 1970s, which shuttled shoppers between the mall and the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel. The monorail system ceased operations in 1987 and was demolished in 1990.
  • The opening of Lord & Taylor in 1978 and Saks Fifth Avenue in 1980.
  • The conversion of the ice skating rink into a five-screen movie theater in the early 1980s.

Changes and Renovations

Over the years, the mall underwent several renovations and transformations, including:

  • A 21-screen Star Theatre multiplex was added in 1999, which became AMC Star in 2006.
  • The closure of Saks Fifth Avenue’s outlet store in 2008 and the subsequent opening of new restaurants, such as BRAVO! Cucina Italiana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.
  • Michigan‘s first Macy’s Backstage opening in 2017 occupied most of the third floor.

The Present and Future of Fairlane Town Center

Today, Fairlane Town Center is owned by the Kohan Retail Investment Group and features over 125 stores and services.

While some of the mall’s original charm has faded with the closure or demolition of iconic attractions like the monorail system and the ice skating rink, the mall remains a bustling retail hub.

Fairlane Town Center
Fairlane Town Center Anne B. Hood / Annebethmi at en.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Macy’s and JCPenney continue to anchor the shopping center, while vacant spaces left by AMC Theatres and Sears await new tenants.

Notable Milestones

  • The sale of Fairlane Town Center and six other malls to Starwood Capital Group LLC for $1.4 billion in 2014.
  • Ford Motor Company added new offices in the former Lord & Taylor space in 2017, occupying over 200,000 square feet.
  • The closure of Sears in 2018 was part of a plan to close 78 stores nationwide.

A Unique Architectural Experience

Fairlane Town Center’s architecture has always set it apart from other shopping centers. Its distinctive interior design features two floors through most of the mall, with a third level incorporated into the center courts.

The unique design creates a sense of spaciousness and makes navigating the mall a memorable experience. The mall’s interior also features terrazzo-tiled flooring, wood-trimmed glass railings, and geometric, hexagon-shaped skylights.

Highlights of the Mall’s Architecture

  • The dual interior courts were initially designed as an activity center and the location of a large terraced fountain.
  • The complex network of stairs, ramps, escalators, and two lighted “octa-lift” elevators provides access to the mall’s three retail levels.

Fond Memories and New Adventures

For those who have grown up in the Dearborn area, Fairlane Town Center holds a special place in their hearts. The mall has been host to countless memories, from family outings to first dates and everything in between. As the mall continues to evolve and adapt to the changing retail landscape, it remains a beloved destination for the local community.

Whether visiting for the first time or returning to reminisce about days gone by, Fairlane Town Center offers a unique shopping experience that combines nostalgia and modern convenience.

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Fairlane Town Center Timeline

Year Event
1976 Fairlane Town Center opens
1978 Lord & Taylor and the first Coffee Beanery open
1980 Saks Fifth Avenue opens
1999 21-screen Star Theatre multiplex added
2006 AMC merges with Star, forming AMC Star
2007 Major renovation completed; H&M and new restaurants added
2014 Mall sold to Starwood Capital Group
2017 Ford Motor Company offices open in former Lord & Taylor
2018 Sears closes
2022 AMC Theatres close
2023 Mall sold to Kohan Retail Investment Group

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Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Heywood
    Heywood

    The last time I went to Fairlane town center was in 1991. Took my family to the movies, and two groups of teens were screaming at each other, and then someone pulled out a gun and shot five shots into the ceiling. I haven’t been back since.

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

      It is extremely unfortunate that you had such a distressing experience at Fairlane Town Center in 1991. Over the past three decades, mall management has likely taken various steps to improve safety and security measures. Enhanced surveillance, collaboration with local law enforcement, and the presence of security personnel all contribute to fostering a secure environment.

      Reply
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