Introduction to Schuylkill Mall
Schuylkill Mall in Frackville, Pennsylvania, was a shopping mall that occupied 800,000 square feet (74,000 m2) and was built in 1980 by Crown American. The mall was once one of the largest in the state, featuring Kmart, Hess’s, and Sears as its anchor stores.
It eventually added Pomeroy’s (later bought by The Bon-Ton) and Phar-Mor. However, with the decline in the regional economy and residents, the mall saw numerous tenants leave, and by 2017, only Dunham’s Sports remained a significant anchor tenant.
Northpoint Development LLC, the property owner, bought the mall out of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2017. They demolished the mall from January 26, 2018, to September 5, 2018, and built an industrial warehouse called Clayco.
Early Years and Expansion
Crown American, a shopping center development firm headquartered in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, inaugurated Schuylkill Mall on October 9, 1980. The mall originally boasted three major anchor stores at the intersection of Pennsylvania Route 61 and Interstate 81: Kmart, Hess’s, and Sears.
The 800,000 square feet (74,000 m2) mall had room for 115 stores, with 91 storefronts open at the time, including a Rea & Derick drugstore, a Weis Markets grocery store, and two McDonald’s restaurants.
In 1983, Pomeroy’s department store relocated from downtown Pottsville to become the mall’s fourth anchor. The Pomeroy’s chain was sold to The Bon-Ton in 1987, and Phar-Mor became the fifth anchor in 1991. Sears expanded its store by 23,000 square feet (2,100 m2) in 1995 by taking over vacated sections of mall space.
Decline and Tenant Closures
Throughout the 2000s, the mall faced multiple store closures. Chick-fil-A, Gap, Arby’s, GameStop, and other stores closed their mall locations for various reasons, including bankruptcy and decreased foot traffic.
The mall had two arcades that closed, one in 2011 and another in 2014. The mall’s largest tenant, Sears, announced its closure in October 2014, followed by Kmart in February 2015.
Black Diamond Antiques announced its closure in May 2016, and The Bon-Ton followed in March 2017. By mid-2017, many stores had closed, with only Dunham’s Sports and Pearl Stadium 8 Theatres remaining as tenants.
Dunham’s Sports closed on December 31, 2017, and Pearl Stadium 8 Theatres closed on January 15, 2018, marking the official closure of Schuylkill Mall.
Pearl Stadium 8 Theatres
Kings Theater Circuit purchased the former Regal Theater in October 2010 and upgraded the theater between 2010 and 2013.
The renovations included eight stadium-seated theaters, an upgraded sound system, larger movie screens, digital projection, new wall coverings and carpets, and a VIP section called “The Screening Room” with a bar and restaurant.
The theater also had its own IMAX-like experience with large screens. Pearl Stadium 8 Theatres was the last tenant to close in the mall on January 15, 2018.
Demolition and Clayco Warehouse
Demolition of the Schuylkill Mall commenced on January 26, 2018, just 11 days after its official closure. The process started at the West Wing, where the former Sears store was located, and proceeded toward the site of the former Bon-Ton.
The East Wing, which housed the former Blum’s Auction, was temporarily untouched as demolition work continued around the former Dunham’s location.
By March 10, 2018, all that remained of the mall was the corridor between Dunham’s and the former Kmart and the site of the former Blum’s Auction. The demolition was reported to be completed on September 5, 2018.
From late 2019 to early 2020, Northpoint Development constructed the Clayco warehouse instead of the former Schuylkill Mall, which closed its doors for good on January 15, 2018. This new industrial warehouse replaced the once-bustling shopping center, marking a new chapter for the site in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
Conclusion: The Legacy of Schuylkill Mall
The Schuylkill Mall in Frackville, Pennsylvania, is a testament to the ever-changing retail and commerce landscape.
Once a thriving shopping center that attracted numerous visitors from the surrounding areas, it ultimately succumbed to the pressures of the economic downturn and the rise of online shopping. Unfortunately, its story mirrors many malls across the United States that have faced similar fates.
Despite its closure and transformation into an industrial warehouse, the Schuylkill Mall remains a significant part of Frackville’s history. It is a reminder of the golden age of shopping malls and the inevitable changes that come over time.
As the Clayco warehouse begins its journey, the legacy of Schuylkill Mall lives on in the memories of those who once frequented its vibrant corridors and bustling storefronts.