Lessons from the Rise, Fall, and Redevelopment of Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, OH

The Rise and Fall of Rolling Acres Mall: An Expository Account

Rolling Acres Mall was a bustling shopping center that stood tall in Akron, Ohio, in the United States. Erected in 1975, the mall opened with 21 stores and Sears as its main anchor.

Over time, the mall grew, including several other anchor stores, JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, O’Neil’s, and Target.

Also, it had a food court and a movie theater, making it a popular destination for Akron residents.

Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, OH

The Development of Rolling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall was a joint venture between Forest City Enterprises and Akron-based developer Richard B. Buchholzer.

After conducting studies that revealed interest from major department stores, the developers chose a 260-acre site along Romig Road on Akron’s southwestern side between 1964 and 1966. and construction began in 1971.

Sears was confirmed as the mall’s first anchor store in mid-1973, with JCPenney joining later, relocating from Wooster-Hawkins Plaza. The mall’s construction, which cost over $100 million, required relocating two natural gas lines and employing over 1,200 workers.

Developers faced challenges during the construction process. Due to the slow speed of land clearing and construction, then-city councilman Ray Kapper threatened to repeal the zoning permit for the mall in 1973.

However, the repeal was withdrawn after representatives from Forest City Enterprises agreed to sign an assessment that included written plans for the mall’s timeline.

The development of Rolling Acres Mall brought significant changes to the area, both positive and negative. It provided job opportunities, boosted the local economy, and caused concern among retailers at nearby plazas.

Despite its eventual decline, the mall’s construction and operation are essential parts of the history of Akron and the retail industry development in the United States.

The Demise of Rolling Acres Mall

Rolling Acres Mall was once a bustling hub of retail activity, with over 150 stores at its peak. However, the mall experienced a sharp decline in tenancy throughout the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century. This resulted in the relocation of Target and the closure of Dillard’s.

The mall’s struggles continued, and in 2008, both Macy’s and the mall were forced to shut down. Despite these closures, Sears remained operational until 2011, and JCPenney operated as an outlet store until 2013.

Rolling Acres Mall became a classic example of a dead mall after its closure. Target, Sears, and Dillard’s former locations were repurposed for non-retail ventures, highlighting the struggles of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers in the face of changing consumer behavior.

The decline of Rolling Acres Mall was a complex issue, influenced by factors such as competition from online retailers, changes in consumer preferences, and the economic downturn of the 2000s.

Becoming a Dead Mall and Its Redevelopment by Amazon.

Rolling Acres Mall became a prime example of a “dead mall,” a term that describes a shopping center that has lost most of its tenants and foot traffic, leading to its eventual closure.

However, even after its closure, the mall remained in the public eye, with non-retail ventures operating out of the former locations of Target, Sears, and Dillard’s.

Finally, in stages between 2017 and 2019, the mall was demolished, marking the end of an era. However, the land did not remain vacant for long, with Amazon building a distribution facility on the former site soon after the demolition.

In conclusion, Rolling Acres Mall’s journey from a thriving shopping center to a dead mall to eventual demolition is a story that highlights the changing landscape of retail and the impact it has on communities. The mall’s rise and fall and subsequent redevelopment offer valuable lessons for those involved in the retail industry and urban planning.

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.

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