Two places that might interest everyone: The Berkshire Mall outside Reading, PA - Not dead but 2/3 anchors recently closed. However, this place is interesting for the aesthetics which have not been altered since it was opened. The mall opened in the early 1970s and much of the architecture and finishes date from that era. There's also a lot of neon in the food court. Worth a look! Next is the Exton Square mall in Exton, PA. This was recently mentioned as a vulnerable mall in the Philadelphia Inquirer when they cited the owners who were discussing ways to prevent the mall from dying. https://www.inquirer.com/business/preit-malls-stock-earnings-exton-square-pennsylvania-20190220.html I've never been to the Exton mall, so I'm not sure what exactly the deal is there. Surprisingly the entire mall is covered in Google maps, so you can check out the interior there.
Hope that is of interest to somebody! If anyone wants to check either place out let me know. There's a lot of other stuff around SE PA as well, especially in some of the decaying factory towns around.
During my time working in Columbia, Maryland with Rouse at their home-office, Exton Square and for many of us was deemed a strange animal. Strawbridge was virtually located in the center of the mall and with smaller specialty stores physically ringed around it in a circle. We never saw anything like it and thought of it to be a bad traffic-flow and smaller tenant visibility design fiasco from the get go. But Jim Rouse as suspected had a special relationship with a certain "Strawbridge" executive going all the way back to Cherry Hill Mall and I believe was thus "strong-armed" as Strawbridge wanted a store in the area "Right Now" no matter what.
Even though the general mall business at the time was still going strong, Exton in its strange format (and with not enough land at the outset for a second anchor) never produced the "dollars per square foot" sales as hoped. Including Strawbridge themselves turning in poor sales results. Strawbridge in fact had totally misread the market and King of Prussia Mall only 12-miles away was getting stronger by the day! Our leasing department had to cash-in a lot of favors with our national tenants to even consider Exton. But down deep we all at HQ knew that such a push or making grave leasing concessions became absolutely necessary.
An expansion of Exton and configuring it into a more traditional mall footprint came confidentially onto the Rouse drawing board around 1985. But adjacent extra department store land and other new mall space acquisitions showed difficulty and it would take some time (years) to do. Finally in September 1997 the West Whiteland Township supervisors approved the expansion of Exton Square.
But only after Rouse was forced in coughing-up considerable more cash for the construction and showering the adjacent 'totally unreasonable' landowner greed with more $$$$ in order to acquiring the much needed additional parcels of land. Naturally then in typical fashion our new department stores required vast construction allowances and essentially Rouse then funding all of their base building construction. The expansion added three new anchors.
Unfortunately over the following years both Boscov's and Sears never reached their expected sales volume. Never even came close. So did a lot of the other smaller mall tenants. I did not spent much time on Exton as we had many more new 'vital and better designed projects' coming on stream. Sorry to say Exton became for us at Rouse a somewhat of an 'orphan child' and never got the attention it fully deserved. Actually nobody wanted to work on Exton from our development or leasing departments as it was seen as a lost cause, it basically exuded bundles of negativity and not exactly advancing anyone's career.
So essentially at first the unusual design of Exton turned out to be a failure, and then after the expansion the market, the economy and nearby competition did the mall in and to be what it is today. Ron Williams was our first GM at the time and who later went on to Granite Run Mall and we all know what happened to that property. For Ron a double jeopardy. This is how it was in those days.
Things have changed since then. But memories prevail!
Berkshire is also about to undergo a massive overhaul and I'm positive that gorgeous food court will not survive. Also, nice name!