Tucson Mall, opened in 1982, is located on the north side of town along Oracle Road. With a central location, it is strategically positioned against the Tucson area’s other large, successful mall – Park Place Mall on the east side. With 1.3 million square feet of retail space on two levels and five anchor pads, Tucson Mall recently went through a major expansion project which demolished the largely unnecessary sixth anchor pad, replacing it with a roofless collection of stores in 2009.
Throughout Tucson Mall’s history, several anchor changes have taken place on the mall’s 6 anchor pads, with only JCPenney and Sears remaining open in the same location the entire time. Dillard’s was the next currently-operating anchor to arrive on the scene, taking over Phoenix-based Diamond’s in 1984. Texas-based Foley’s was swapped out for LA-based Robinson’s-May in 1993, and eventually became Macy’s in 2005. The Broadway, another LA-based department store, folded to Macy’s in 1996 and operated as Macy’s until 2005, when the Macy’s “moved” to the former Robinson’s-May location and is still in operation there. The Broadway/Macy’s space remained dark until it was demolished in 2007 and replaced with a set of roofless stores which will open in 2009. Finally, Tucson Mall’s Mervyn’s closed in 2008 when that chain folded and was promptly replaced with an anchor-sized Forever 21 store. This Forever 21 store is part of a regional rollout of anchor-sized, apparel-based formats for Forever 21, combining all of their brands under one roof. Many of these first jumbo Forever 21s replaced dead Mervyns, but their size and product mix could also easily replace many of the dead Steve and Barry shells sitting across the country.
In terms of design and decor, Tucson Mall features a mosly modern design with small elements of datedness. For example, the food court’s side corridor has relatively low ceilings and is more dimly lit, in comparison with the rest of the mall’s wide open spaces. Also, other dated features which have remained through renovations in 2002-2004 and 2007-2009 include huge pillars and a giant, mirrored JCPenney facade. In addition, the mall features a long two-level design with a slight turn, and the food court exists on an interesting alternate hallway on the first level.
We visited Tucson Mall around closing time in March 2009 and took the photos featured here; however, not without resistance. At the Macy’s end of the mall we were “caught” by a security guard who informed us that taking pictures in the mall is forbidden, and not to take a camera in the mall. Since the mall was closing anyway, we left through the same entrance we came in, and were speedily encountered by one of the security vehicles which sped up to us as we exited the mall into the parking lot, with its yellow lights blaring. The driver of the security vehicle then leaned out of his open window and barked something like, ”Don’t bring your camera back here if you visit this mall again! We have you on tape taking pictures and it has been recorded!” He sure was mad. He then drove off to a nearby section of parking lot and waited for us to leave, and that was that. I wasn’t too ensconced by the whole ordeal, and in fact I actually kind of laughed at them. Whoops. \
We’ve encountered various levels of enforcement to this rule, with certain security guards looking the other way and others simply giving us an empathetic and polite warning. Yet others choose to use their positions for apparent power-tripping or maybe even boredom as we’re singled out and read the riot act. We understand they’re just doing their jobs, but one time a group of them followed us onto an interstate shouting and screaming at us after taking pictures. Inside a mall. The horror…
Once again, the age-old debate emerges regarding conduct in private spaces meant for public use. Obviously these malls have the legal right to prohibit photography, and these security officers are doing their jobs to enforce them, but to what end? We think these policies are incredibly short-sighted, especially when the ostensible reason for prohibiting photography inside malls is to prevent financial gain from said photos. Clearly, archival sites such as this one are meant for preserving whever history resides with these retail centers, and by taking pictures here we’re literally taking snapshots of time, for whoever is interested. And we think that’s a good thing, and many others agree with us. So we soldier on.
At any rate, enjoy the pictures. P.S. Security Guard Anti-Photo Enforcer #1 is pictured in the middle of picture #17.