Everyone Loves a Dead Mall

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Have you been to the Owings Mills Mall recently? I haven’t — and hardly anyone else has, either. The once-vibrant mall is one of dozens of enclosed shopping malls that have either closed or are close to it.

Yesterday’s New York Times front-page article about the economics of dying malls used the Owings Mills Mall as a case study, blaming its decline on changes in shopping habits, shifting urban planning trends, and even income inequality. (Newer outdoor-style malls aimed at swankier customers are thriving, while traditional indoor malls like the one in Owings Mills are the ones that are struggling.)

Some of the indoor malls that fail get demolished and paved over. Others become playgrounds for squatters or dead mall fans (check out these photos of an abandoned mall in Bethesda to get a sense of how spooky these spaces can look). Some, however, get the chance to be reborn– which is what developers are hoping to do in Owings Mills. Instead of scrapping the structure entirely, developers are hoping to reconfigure it into an indoor/outdoor mall hybrid, a la the Avenue in White Marsh, and anchored by Target/Best Buy/Costco type stores, rather than J.C. Penny-type department stores.

Will it work? That remains to be seen; if you want to see the mall in its current state (which the Times describes as “zombielike”), it’s still open — barely — through the end of 2015.



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3 COMMENTS

  1. When this mall first opened, it was anchored by Saks and Macy’s. Years later, Sears, Boscov’s, Lord & Taylor all failed. Owings Mills New Town was to be THE place to live and many people actually purchased those overnight salt boxes that stood for single family housing. Now? What the heck is that monstrocity rowhouse mess across the street? And just for nostalgia’s sake and completely off topic: anyone remember Hutzlers?, Hoschild-Kohn? Stewart’s? Hahn Shoes? Hess Shoes, Hamburger’s? Heck, even Merry-Go-Round?

  2. I went there when the subway started to go out that way. I found the mall extremely boring, and never went back. Those of you who blame the demise of Owings Mills Mall on low-income, city bred shoplifters might want to stop blaming it all them.

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