Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS – Lesson in Retail Evolution

Mississippi’s Largest enclosed Shopping Mall, Metrocenter Mall

As of 2023, the once-thriving Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, Mississippi, now stands as a silent monument to its former glory.

The mall, which boasted an impressive 1,250,000 square feet of retail space on two levels and four anchor spaces, was Mississippi’s largest enclosed shopping mall during its heyday.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

Metrocenter Mall was built by regional real estate developer Jim Wilson & Associates in Mississippi’s capital city in 1978 as part of its portfolio of properties throughout the southeastern United States.

The mall’s strategic location near the junction of Interstate 20 and Interstate 220/U.S. Highway 49, along South Jackson’s U.S. Highway 80 corridor, made it an easily accessible shopping destination for residents and visitors alike.

However, despite years of ownership by Cannon Management and Jackson Metrocenter Limited, the mall’s decade-long decline led to foreclosure in November 2012 and subsequent sale to Metrocenter Mall, LLC.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS
Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

While portions of the mall have found new life as City of Jackson offices, such as the former Belk anchor store, the mall is closed.

Two other anchor stores, once bustling Sears and Dillard’s locations, now stand empty and are a stark reminder of the mall’s faded glory.

For decades, Metrocenter Mall was a hub of commercial activity and a popular gathering place for the people of South Jackson. Today, its closure marks the end of an era for the community and a symbol of changing times in the world of retail.

Metrocenter Mall: A History of Retail in Mississippi

On March 1, 1978, Mississippians eagerly lined up to witness the grand opening of the largest mall in the state – Metrocenter. The two-level shopping center boasted over 100 stores and services, making it a retail hub for the entire region. Jackson-based McRae’s, Alabama-based Gayfers, and national retailer Sears were the three anchor department stores that welcomed customers on day one.

The mall’s popularity grew with the addition of New Orleans-based D.H. Holmes as the fourth anchor store in May 1979. Two department stores, D.H. Holmes and McRae’s, even housed their own restaurants – Potpourri Restaurant and Widow Watson’s.

Metrocenter Mall was also home to Service Merchandise, a specialty outlet of the Jackson-based Jitney-Jungle supermarket chain, and Mississippi’s only General Cinema theater as outparcels.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS
Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

The opening of Metrocenter significantly impacted the retail landscape in Jackson. It quickly became the go-to shopping destination, taking away most of the business from Jackson Mall, which had opened in 1969 with JCPenney, Gayfers, and Woolco as its anchors. Despite the opening of Northpark Mall in Ridgeland in 1984, Metrocenter continued to enjoy success.

Today, as we look back on the history of Metrocenter Mall, we can see how it played a significant role in shaping the retail industry in Mississippi.

Metrocenter Mall: A Slow Decline

Metrocenter Mall, a once bustling retail destination in the city’s heart, experienced a gradual decline in 1999. This was when the mall’s first anchor department store closed its doors, signaling a looming crisis.

Dillard’s, a major retailer that had acquired two of the mall’s anchor spaces by 1999, tried to keep the mall afloat by continuing to operate in the former D.H. Holmes space while closing the Gayfer’s space. However, this was not enough to prevent the mall from declining.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS
Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

The decline persisted as vacancies became a constant sight within the mall, and many existing stores closed. Despite efforts to revitalize the property, such as renovating the interior and adding a new food court, the mall struggled to attract new tenants. This situation persisted for years, with no signs of improvement.

In 2007, Burlington Coat Factory opened on the first level of the former Gayfers property, and for a brief moment, the mall saw a glimmer of hope. The new store’s grand opening drew in patrons from more than 90 miles away, and statistics showed a substantial increase in traffic at Metrocenter by as much as 3,000 cars per day.

Metrocenter Mall: Changing Demographics and Redevelopment Plans

In 2009, the Jackson metropolitan area experienced significant changes in its demographics due to the phenomenon known as “white flight.” As a result, numerous commercial establishments, including the Metrocenter Mall, suffered from substantial vacancies.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS
Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

Belk, a department store chain, decided to close its Metrocenter location in August of that year to focus on suburban properties at Northpark Mall in Ridgeland and Dogwood Festival Market in Flowood.

However, the city of Jackson’s government planned to revitalize South Jackson by purchasing the former D.H. Holmes/Dillard’s property for $39,500 in December 2009. This decision was based on the hope that investment would spur a revitalization effort for the area.

The former McRae’s/Belk property, which had been left vacant since the closure of the Belk store, was sold to Retro Metro, LLC in July 2010. Retro Metro had plans to divide the property into offices for the City of Jackson on the first level and a mixed-use redevelopment on the second level that included offices, restaurants, and retail space.

In December 2010, Watkins Partners, a local real estate developer, announced its intention to move forward with Project Retro Metro, which would breathe new life into the former anchor of Metrocenter Mall. In January 2011, the mixed-use redevelopment began to take shape.

Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS
Metrocenter Mall in Jackson, MS

Metrocenter: A Once-Thriving Mall Now Devoid of Retail Stores

In late December 2011, Sears Holdings announced the closure of over 100 Kmart and Sears properties, including the Sears store at Metrocenter. The closure of the last department store anchor dealt a severe blow to the mall in 2012 when Sears closed its doors for the last time.

In the years that followed, Metrocenter struggled to attract shoppers, and only a few stores remained, including the Burlington store and a handful of small outlets. The city offices also found a home in the mall.

However, even these efforts were not enough to save Metrocenter. First, in August 2018, the mall closed its doors, leaving only Burlington and the city offices. Then, on February 9, 2022, the last retail store at the mall, Burlington, announced its closure, leaving Metrocenter utterly devoid of any retail stores.

Today, the once-thriving Metrocenter stands empty, a stark reminder of the rise and fall of the American mall.

Avatar of Spencer Walsh

I'm Spencer Walsh, a professional traveler who loves to help people discover new places and learn about different cultures. I've traveled worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Africa to South America. My favorite thing about traveling is getting lost because it allows me to discover unexpected gems—finding a hidden museum or stumbling upon a beautiful park in the middle of the city.

Best Attractions
Add a comment

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: