Funky Times Ahead: How the Legendary Salem Mall in Trotwood, OH, Is Making a Comeback

The Birth of Salem Mall

In 1966, when The Rouse Company opened the doors of Salem Mall in Trotwood, Ohio, the excitement was palpable. This shopping hub quickly became a go-to destination for locals, boasting over 60 retailers in its early years.

Anchored by Rike’s and Sears department stores, the mall also featured a Liberal supermarket, The Metropolitan (a smaller department store), and a multi-screen cinema.

Expansion and Prosperity

Salem Mall’s initial success led to a large-scale renovation in 1981, which included the construction of a two-story concourse and the addition of a JCPenney anchor store.

The old supermarket space was subdivided into inline stores, and the expansion included a food court. By this time, Salem Mall was home to more than 110 retailers, prospering throughout the 1980s.

Challenges and Decline

Unfortunately, poor mall management in the mid-1980s started taking its toll, affecting the mall’s ability to attract new tenants, renew existing leases, and maintain its shopper base.

By the mid to late 1990s, Salem Mall was labeled a “dead mall.” Then, in 1998, Rouse sold its interest in the mall, and soon after, anchor stores Lazarus and JCPenney closed their doors.

As the Loews Cinema and many of the mall’s restaurants went out of business, only Sears and a newly built Home Depot remained. Finally, in 2005, the mall closed permanently.

The Demolition and Aftermath

Demolition of the mall began on May 15, 2006, but the Sears building was spared, operating as a freestanding store.

Various redevelopment plans were proposed for the site, such as the Landmark Town Center and the TechConnection Business Park. However, no significant progress was made, and Sears closed in 2014.

Cleanup and Redevelopment

In 2018, Trotwood received a federal grant to demolish the Sears building and clean up the site for future mixed-use development. In 2019, the city successfully bid on the old Sears building, purchasing it for $225,000.

Salem Mall Timeline

Year Event
1966 Salem Mall opens with Rike’s and Sears as anchor stores
1981 The expansion adds JCPenney and a food court
Mid-1980s Poor management leads to the decline
1998 Lazarus and JCPenney close; mall sold to Cigna
2005 Mall closes permanently
2006 Demolition of the mall, except for the Sears building
2014 Sears closes
2018 Federal grant received for site cleanup
2019 Trotwood purchases the old Sears building
2022 Funk Music Hall of Fame announces relocation to the site

A New Vision for the Community

The Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation, in conjunction with the University of Dayton, sought public input on redesigning the site in 2021.

The community’s vision included a kitchen, market, and business hub. Exciting news followed in 2022 when the old Sears Center within Salem Mall was chosen as the new home of The Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center!

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Celebrating Dayton’s Funk Legacy

The neighboring city of Dayton is known for producing numerous funk artists like The Ohio Players and Shirley Murdock. The new Hall of Fame will feature an educational center, bringing funk music into the spotlight and enriching the local community.

Revitalizing Trotwood: Exciting Future Plans

Trotwood has ambitious plans to revitalize the old Salem Mall and Sears site, including:

  • An outdoor amphitheater for hosting concerts and events
  • A food hall showcasing local cuisine and culinary talent
  • Support for small businesses to encourage local entrepreneurship

These projects aim to create new opportunities for the community and drive economic growth.

Embracing Change and Looking Ahead

While we fondly remember the Salem Mall and its role in our lives, it’s essential to embrace the exciting future ahead for Trotwood and its residents.

Change is an inevitable part of life, and as the community comes together to reshape the former Salem Mall site, we look forward to witnessing the transformation and growth of Trotwood.

Engaging the Community

The revitalization project presents an opportunity for residents to participate in shaping the future of their city. Locals can contribute to creating a vibrant, thriving community center that meets their needs and desires by providing input on the redevelopment plans.

Economic Growth and Job Creation

The redevelopment of the Salem Mall site will undoubtedly bring new businesses and job opportunities to Trotwood. As the city works to attract companies and entrepreneurs, the local economy will benefit from increased investment, employment, and tax revenue.

Preserving History While Moving Forward

By incorporating the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center into the redevelopment plans, Trotwood is honoring its rich cultural history while looking to the future.

This balance between past and present is essential to creating a dynamic, forward-thinking community that maintains a strong sense of identity.

Trotwood Salem Mall
KC2GVX at en.wikipedia / Dave Lansing, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Building Community Pride

As the former Salem Mall site is transformed into a bustling community hub, residents will have even more reasons to be proud of their city. New attractions, businesses, and events will unite people and foster a sense of belonging among Trotwood’s citizens.

A Bright Future for Trotwood

As we cherish the memories of Salem Mall and its impact on our lives, let’s also look forward to the promising future that awaits Trotwood.

The revitalization of the mall site and the city’s ongoing economic development efforts will undoubtedly lead to a thriving, vibrant community that we can all be proud to call home.

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