The Birth of Crossroads Mall
Introduction to Crossroads Mall
In September 1960, Omaha witnessed the opening of Crossroads Mall, a venture initiated by Brandeis’s department store.
This event marked a significant milestone in the city’s retail history, introducing a modern shopping experience to the residents.
Located at the bustling intersection of 72nd and Dodge Streets, Crossroads Mall quickly became a landmark in Omaha, Nebraska.
Its opening not only represented a new era in shopping but also symbolized the city’s growth and modernization during that period.
Early Years and Anchors
The mall’s initial structure was a testament to contemporary design and consumer culture. It featured a single-story straight corridor flanked by its two main anchor stores: Sears and Brandeis.
Both stores were significant retail players, with Sears known for its wide range of products and Brandeis for its local heritage.
Each anchor store spanned three levels, offering a diverse shopping experience. The first floor of each store was at the basement level of the mall but had external access, while the second floor opened into the mall’s main corridor. The third floor, however, had no direct mall or exterior access.
Crossroads Mall has been pivotal in shaping Omaha’s retail landscape since its inception. It offered various shopping options and became a social hub where people gathered, interacted, and engaged in numerous things to do in Omaha, NE.
The mall’s presence boosted the local economy, attracting shoppers across the city and beyond. It also set the stage for future retail developments in Omaha, paving the way for the city to become a significant regional shopping destination.
As the years progressed, Crossroads Mall continued to evolve, adapting to its customers’ changing needs and preferences.
Its journey through the decades reflects the city’s transformation, mirroring the shifts in consumer behavior and the retail industry.
Transformations and Renovations
First Major Renovation
In 1984, a significant chapter in the history of Crossroads Mall began when Melvin Simon & Associates, a renowned name in the shopping center industry, acquired the property.
This change in ownership led to a major renovation project initiated in 1986 with an investment of $35 million. Completed in 1988, this renovation transformed the mall into a two-story shopping paradise.
A distinctive feature of this renovation was the addition of a unique white membrane “tent” roof, which became a visual hallmark of Crossroads Mall.
This architectural innovation modernized the mall’s appearance and created a new, vibrant center court, enhancing the overall shopping experience.
Second Renovation and Changes
The mall underwent another transformation in 1998, focusing on a more cosmetic upgrade. This renovation introduced a refreshed color scheme and updated furnishings, aligning the mall with contemporary design trends.
Adding new directional signage and a prominent “FOOD COURT” sign improved navigation and convenience for shoppers.
The renovation also included remodeling the food court area spaces, adding more seating, children’s rides, and a family restroom.
The main south entrance received a facelift, featuring a new “compass” logo and faux windows, further elevating the mall’s aesthetic appeal.
Younkers and Target
A pivotal moment in the mall’s history occurred in early 2005 when Younkers, one of the anchor stores, closed its doors.
This closure marked the end of an era and paved the way for the introduction of Target in July 2006.
Unlike many of its urban counterparts, the new Target store was designed with a single level of retail space, offering direct access to the south surface parking lot and the mall.
The store’s receiving and storage areas were situated separately, inaccessible to customers. This development signified a shift in the mall’s retail composition, reflecting changing market trends and consumer preferences.
Decline and Challenges
Early Signs of Decline
The late 2000s marked the beginning of a challenging period for Crossroads Mall.
The rise of other shopping centers like Westroads and Oak View Malls, along with lifestyle centers such as Village Pointe and Shadow Lake, started drawing customers away from Crossroads.
The competition intensified, leading to a gradual decline in foot traffic and a noticeable increase in vacancy rates.
Nearly 50 percent of the mall’s retail space lay vacant, signaling a downturn in its commercial success.
Vacancy and Loss of Anchors
The loss of key anchor stores further exacerbated the mall’s struggles. In August 2008, Dillard’s announced the closure of its Crossroads store, converting it into a clearance center for a brief period before its eventual shutdown.
This loss, coupled with the earlier departure of Younkers, left a significant void in the mall’s retail offerings.
By spring 2009, the entire second level, including the once-popular food court, stood vacant, a stark reminder of the mall’s fading glory.
Simon Malls Sale and Foreclosure
In a dramatic turn of events, Simon Malls, the then-owner of Crossroads, announced in mid-June 2009 that the mall was up for sale.
Despite receiving several bids, none met Simon Malls’ expectations, leading to a default on mortgage payments and pushing the mall into foreclosure.
A foreclosure sale was scheduled for March 4, 2010, marking a low point in the mall’s history.
The property changed hands in March, with CW Capital acquiring it for $40.6 million, only to sell it to Century Development shortly after.
This period of uncertainty and change reflected the mall’s declining stature in Omaha’s retail landscape.
Community and Cultural Impact
Local Businesses and Events
Despite its declining fortunes, Crossroads Mall remained a hub for local businesses and community events.
Small, unique businesses like Sissy’s Bags Boutique, ReJenerations, Stella’s, and Dragon Storm Kempo Karate found a home in the mall.
These local enterprises added a personal touch to the shopping experience, differentiating Crossroads from other, more generic shopping centers.
The mall also hosted events such as “Nebraska‘s Largest Indoor Garage Sale” and “Take 2 Kids Consignment,” which drew crowds and kept the spirit of the community alive within its walls.
Over the years, Crossroads Mall had become more than just a shopping center; it was a cultural landmark in Omaha.
The mall’s unique architecture, especially the iconic membrane tents over the food court, became a recognizable symbol in the area.
The Great Plains Black History Museum and the Czech and Slovak Educational Center and Museum, located within the mall, added educational and cultural dimensions, making it a place of learning and cultural exchange.
Public Perception and Memories
For many in Omaha, Crossroads Mall was a repository of memories. It was a place where families and friends gathered, where many experienced their first jobs, and where seasonal events created lasting impressions.
The mall’s decline was met with nostalgia and a sense of loss by the community, who remembered it as a bustling center of activity and a symbol of the city’s growth and development.
The Demolition and Redevelopment Plans
Announcement of Demolition
The end of an era was marked by the announcement of Crossroads Mall‘s demolition in April 2020.
The mall officially closed around September 2020, with demolition beginning on December 9, 2020, starting with the former Sears Auto Center.
This demolition symbolized the final chapter of the mall’s storied history and paved the way for a new development on the site.
The future of the Crossroads site was unveiled as a mixed-use development aptly named The Crossroads.
Slated to open in 2024, this new development promised to transform the heart of Omaha.
The plan included 150,000 square feet of entertainment and lifestyle space, 200,000 square feet of retail, 150 hotel rooms, 400 residences, and up to 500,000 square feet of office space.
The redevelopment aimed to breathe new life into the area, merging retail, business, art, entertainment, and more.
Community Reactions and Expectations
The community’s reaction to the redevelopment plans was a mix of anticipation and hope.
Many residents were eager to see the transformation of the once-vibrant shopping center into a modern, mixed-use space that could revitalize the area.
The project, now estimated to cost around $600 million, was seen as a significant investment in Omaha’s future, promising to bring new energy and activity to the 72nd and Dodge intersection.
Local developers Lockwood Development and Century Development’s partnership with the City of Omaha added to the community’s optimistic outlook for The Crossroads.
The Future of The Crossroads
Vision for The Crossroads
The vision for The Crossroads is ambitious and forward-thinking. It aims to transform the 40-acre site into a vibrant, mixed-use development connecting downtown and west Omaha.
The project is designed to merge retail, business, art, entertainment, education, health care, and more into a cohesive and lively community space.
The developers, Lockwood Development and Century Development, in collaboration with the City of Omaha, envision a revitalized area where 72nd and Dodge will thrive once again.
Economic and Social Implications
The redevelopment of the Crossroads site is expected to have significant economic and social implications for Omaha.
The project is set to create many jobs and boost the local economy. Including residential units, office spaces, and retail areas is anticipated to attract diverse residents and professionals, contributing to the city’s growth and vibrancy.
The Crossroads is poised to become a key destination for locals and visitors, offering a variety of experiences and amenities.
Projected Timeline and Developments
As of December 2023, the construction of The Crossroads is underway, with the project team working on infrastructure developments, including sewer work.
Building construction is expected to begin within the next year. The development will be completed in 2025, featuring structures up to 10 stories high.
The mixed-use development will likely include offices, apartments, hotel rooms, retail stores, fitness centers, dining facilities, entertainment venues, green spaces, and a pavilion.
The existing Target store and a 2,200-space parking garage will be integrated into the new development, enhancing its accessibility and convenience.
Reflecting on Crossroads Mall’s Legacy
Crossroads Mall’s journey from a bustling shopping center to its decline and eventual redevelopment is a narrative that mirrors the evolving retail landscape and community dynamics in Omaha.
For over six decades, the mall was a commercial hub, a social gathering place, and a cultural landmark.
Its transformation over the years reflected broader changes in consumer behavior, economic challenges, and urban development trends.
The Mall’s Impact and Its Transformation
The mall’s impact on Omaha’s retail and cultural landscape was significant. It was where memories were made, businesses thrived, and community events brought people together.
The decline of Crossroads Mall, while a loss to many, also opened the door to new possibilities and opportunities for redevelopment and rejuvenation.
Looking Forward to The Crossroads
The site’s future as The Crossroads presents an exciting prospect for Omaha. This redevelopment is not just about constructing new buildings; it’s about revitalizing a key area of the city, fostering economic growth, and creating a space that resonates with the community’s needs and aspirations.
As Omaha looks forward to the opening of The Crossroads in 2025, there is a sense of anticipation for the new experiences, opportunities, and memories that this development will bring.
The Crossroads is poised to symbolize Omaha’s resilience, innovation, and commitment to progress.