The Shoppes at Buckland Hills; Manchester, Connecticut

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT
The Shoppes at Buckland Hills (Which was formerly known as the esoterically-named Pavilions at Buckland Hills until sometime… err, recently) is (Are? Damn you, subject-verb agreement!) one of the two major malls serving the immediate Hartford area. It’s the newest of the two by far, with the distinctively Taubman-styled–and far more interesting–Westfarms being the other, but it’s also the less upscale one. While the “Shoppes” is the cornerstone of one of the largest and newest retail districts in New England, it also faces a large amount of competition from the newly-completed Evergreen Walk lifestyle center in South Windsor, a super-fouffy faux-Main Street deal which houses nearly all of the truly upscale tenants for the area.

The 1 million square foot, two-level, 140 store mall opened in 1990 with Lord & Taylor, Sears, JCPenney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and G. Fox as anchors. The May company acquired Filene’s in the mid-1990s and retired the storied G. Fox nameplate–a staple of Hartford for generations. This gave May two stores in the mall, and in 2004 they would shut the Lord & Taylor store and convert it to a second Filene’s location. Of course this wouldn’t last terribly long, given that both locations were converted to Macy’s in 2006. The Barnes & Noble store also opened in the mall in 2002 or so, as part of a minor renovation that also reconfigured the food court to be more open and airy.

I seriously caught these Filene’s signs just in time. These pictures were taken in early August 2006:

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT
The opening of the Pavilions at Buckland Hills spurred a large amount of retail activity along I-84 in Manchester, just about 5 miles northeast of Hartford, and the build-out of this area continues today. Of course, given the mall’s vintage, it’s largely what you’d expect–and that’d be boring, in case you haven’t been paying attention. But like all malls, it does have a few interesting design features. The tent-like, canvas-roofed corridors are like few other malls (I can recall only three malls I’ve witnessed it in, though I’m sure there are more) and the semi-elaborate Victorian details and jaunty courts offer at least at a modicum of entertainment to a mall that, for the most part, is an awful lot like a slightly less-successful cousin of the Natick Mall outside of Boston.

The opening of the Evergreen Walk lifestyle thing seems to be hurting this beast somethin’ fierce, as there were quite a few vacancies (for a mall of this caliber and with such little competition, anyway) on our most recent visit, and we couldn’t help but notice that Buckland Hills is missing a lot of the most upscale tenants that normally frequent super-regional malls. Connecticut folks, give us some feedback–what’s going on here? How do people in the Nutmeg State feel about the Shoppes at Buckland Hills?

P.S.: We do know one little newsy tidbit–Boston record store mainstay Newbury Comics, my former employer and the largest independent record store chain in the United States, is planning to open a prototype store in the Shoppes at Buckland Hills sometime in the near future. It’ll be the chain’s first foray into Connecticut, filling the void left statewide by the demise of Media Play, and it comes at a time when record stores are in trouble. While Newbury has some mall locations, they tend to be somewhat accidental. Entering a whole new market in an enclosed mall carries a certain meaning for them as they’ll need to introduce themselves to the people of metro Hartford. Will it work?

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT

49 Responses to “The Shoppes at Buckland Hills; Manchester, Connecticut”

  1. Alright, finally some Connecticut representation!

    I’ll begin by saying I’ve been with Buckland Hills since it opened and greatly consider this Connecticut’s top mall, especially post-renovation which just took place recently. Buckland Mall is enormous, as it’s always been, and features just about every store you’ll find in most average malls. I remember as a kid, first visiting Buckland, my mom and aunt telling me there was an arcade in this mall (compared to my food court-less, arcade-less Westfarms).

    As for the mall’s history, just recently they removed the Time Out videogame arcade where they built a carousel and opened up the center food court much more. The upscale renovation blew Buckland Hills former crummy/average image away and much for the better adding more restaurants and removing some older food court shops.

    All in all, Buckland Hills has always been one of CT’s most attractive malls. Of course, the surrounding environment of plazas and big box stores greatly help the traffic to Buckland Hills. Personally, I don’t think anything is hurting at Buckland, it’s always been a very popular, attract-driven mall.

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  2. I made cookies with a little too much nutmeg a couple of days ago. Now I don’t feel like visiting Connecticut for a while. :(

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  3. I don’t mean to say Buckland Hills isn’t a nice mall–it certainly is, and given that the Hartford metropolitan area is quite large (over 1 million people) and relatively underserved by malls only strengthens its place in the market. But the last time I went, it seemed that given this advantage, it still had a rather large number of dollar stores and secondary tenants and I wasn’t expecting it. Maybe it’s a temporary blip since some tenants flew the coop recently to go to the lifestyle center, I don’t know. You’re probably right in that it’s unlikely it’s going anywhere, and it is one of the largest and best-located malls in Connecticut.

    I think my personal favorites are Connecticut Post and Trumbull, which both have really unusual floorplans and decor.

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  4. This mall seems nice and typical, if a little boring. I like the scrollwork.

    You can tell the Filene’s had been remodeled before the Macy’s conversion if you look at the eye-shaped wall on the lower level, which is a highlight of latter day May Company store design.

    One detail you missed was the Filene’s aquisition. It was 1988 when Filene’s was sold by Federated to May, not the mid ’90s. 1993 was the year Filene’s and G. Fox merged.

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  5. I like the looks of this mall. The iron scroll work seems a little corny, but I think most people prefer a Disney-esque design. It also gives you something to remember it by. You know, that “wow” factor (whether or not it is truly exciting). I can’t wait to see how those new open-air centers weather the, uh, poor weather. I’ll take climate controlled comfort anyday in winter.
    Scott

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  6. Traditional indoor malls are definitely important and essential in the Northeast…

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  7. What used to be where the Barnes & Noble is? It looks like that was an anchor at one point.

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  8. The creeps sure did put the ‘ill’ in The Shoppes @ Buckland Hills. The boredom is on the plates!

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  9. Barnes and Noble might’ve been home to Steiger’s and D&L; both now long defunct. For as far back as I can remember, that entire area of the mall was walled off so I’m taking a stab here. I’m hoping someone can correct me…

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  10. Could it have been a Lechmere? I know they opened a store in Manchester, Connecticut in 1992, the same year that they opened mall stores in Kingston, Taunton, and North Attleboro, Massachusetts. I’m not positive this is where it was, but it’s a good guess.

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    j Reply:

    @Caldor, the Lechmere was at the Plaza at Buckland Hills where the Joann Etc. Superstore is now.

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  11. I’m not too sure why this mall is drawing such a cold reception by the readers. Ever since the mall opened, it’s has been one of the state’s most attractive and is (I believe factually) the largest mall. Personally, Buckland Hills has always attracted large crowds of people. If you guys want to criticize the mall for it’s somewhat bland look now, you should’ve seen it before the renovation and semi-expansion; old tiles, and no gate-like arches or faux street signs. The mall completely lacked luster and attracted more deviant crowds on weekends.

    Evergreen Walk, nearby, will attract the more avant-garde crowd that might seem polarizing to people who aren’t prepared to spend big bucks. Evergreen does invite something of a fancy “night on the town” feel though…

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  12. I don’t think it’s anything personal so much as that it bears a lot of similarities to quite a few other malls of its vintage.

    In general, mall architecture got somewhat samey after 1985 or so, and there are an awful lot of malls that are roughly interchangeable as a result. For a point of comparison, look at most of the malls in Massachusetts or New Hampshire that are near the I-495 ring, most of which are similar in age.

    Most of these malls are of course very successful today, and with reason: they tend to be large and bright and since they’re young, often are located in areas where there isn’t yet another larger competitor or where the demographics still make sense. There’s nothing wrong with Buckland Hills–heck, I honestly even like the mall, though I like most–it’s just that it’s not hugely unique.

    Also, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Buckland Hills is 1,042,552 square feet. The largest mall in Connecticut, however, is actually Danbury Fair, at 1,500,000 square feet. These figures aren’t always intuitive though because large anchors throw them off quite a bit (by sheer square footage, the largest mall in Massachusetts is the Northshore Mall, which houses only half as many stores as Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, the *true* largest mall… at least for now).

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  13. Buckland Hills originally opened with a G.Fox, Sage-Allen, Stieger’s and Sears. The space of Sage-Allen became a Lord & Taylor until it closed a few years ago for consolidation and underperformance. The Stieger’s location was purchased by MayCo about 1992 and most of thier locations were either turned into Filene’s or closed and sold to other companies. Shortly after Steiger’s demise, it’s store became Dick’s Sporting Goods. The space that occupied D&L was turned into the Home Store for a Filene’s expansion. “China, Housewares, Furniture, Electronics and Luggage” while the main branch contained Domestics. I do know when the mall was built, an additional space was built for a 5th Anchor store to be added. I don’t believe JCPenney was original to the mall when it was built, due to the fact the outlet store was right down the road. I believe it was added later on. When the Lord & Taylor closed, the Filene’s location moved its Home Satellite store to Lord & Taylor’s location creating Men’s, Children’s and Furniture, therefore returning the “Bridal Departments” to the Main store. WHEW!!!…The old D&L location is still vacant to this day (Filene’s original home-store move location)…Now I think that Sears & Macy’s should switch spots just to confuse us some more!!!

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  14. I have been in this mall recently and it is one of the more nicer looking ones,which is rare and also has a fountation which is also even rarer nowadays.

    Last time I was in there the Filene’s was closed and empty,any word on who will occupy that space?

    They already have a Macy’s in there.

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  15. […] The Shoppes at Buckland Hills; Manchester, Connecticut […]

  16. On October 5, Bobby asked about the Barnes&Nobel site? It was built as B&N three years ago. Buckland was supposed to have 6 anchors – and Stieger’s was their first Connecticut store. (It was based in Springfield). Two other stores that were supposed to be anchors were A&S (Abraham&Stauss) and Macy’s, but they decided against it.
    J.C Penny build their store abound 1995. Dick’s opened about 1996, IIRC.D&L (Davidson& Lethanal) was a nice store. There are the new Evergreen Walk and soon, in East Hartford, a new Calbela’s will open.

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  17. Changes abound!

    Newbery Comics opened up about a month ago, in the former 2nd location of Suncoast Video (1st floor, black-tiled corner store across from Electronics Boutique). It does my cold little heart good to see something this wonderful go into the old Suncoast location, as a former Media Play employee (who were both owned by Musicland Corp) I visited on Monday, Dec 18th in the middle of the afternoon and the place was hopping. It doesn’t have the book selection that the original on Newbery Street in Boston does, but it is a welcome and refreshing addition to the mall. Most of all, their CD and DVD prices are “Wicked Cheap” compared to the rest of the mall! ($9.99 new releases!!)

    2 new places are slated to open in the old Filenes Home Store location (when it was downstairs under the food court/where the fountain is)
    -The Blue Turtle: Very much like a Dave & Busters. Arcade, familiy dining, and bar. There is at least one other, in the Post Mall in Milford. Nice place, hopefully nice break from the downtown Hartford bar scene.
    -The Funny Bone Comedy Club: Part of a chain of comedy clubs known for having a national presence in the comedy club/tv comedy scene. The back end of the old Home Store has been made into a new hallway/entrance for these two tennants. (If you’re facing the fountain, these places are on the left in this new “hallway”)

    For at least the holiday season, an electric Yamaha baby grand piano sits near the fountain in player-piano mode.

    Also coming in soon are an Aldo shoes store and a Coach store, which should add to the upscale feel of the place

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  18. JCPenney certainly has a weird architectural style for it’s anchor it looks similar to the brutalistic style JC Penney warehouse is in where it formerly housed the huge JC Penney outlet store.

    looks like random pieces of design strung together and yet it’s so appealing to me for some reason.

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  19. One more thing was the former Filene’s the same building that G. Fox was housed in?

    Because it’s possible that the “half black octogon” design could be originally from G.Fox and possibly former Federated standard company building design.

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  20. Mark: JCPenney architecture is very bizarre at times, but usually is appealing, I think the ’60s and ’70s stores are more interesting than the ’90s and ’00s stores, but they’re all cool in their own way.

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  21. Mark: The Macys/Filene’s larger location on the end across directly from the Sear’s was at one time a G.Fox location. It opened originally with no furniture, bedding or rug departments. After the MayCo merger and re-branding to Filene’s, a satellite store was opened to include the above departments and to also incorporate houswares, china, and electronics. In the G.Fox chain, the store was #15, CTPost #16, other stores Enfield #2, Meriden #3, Westfarms #4, Naugatuck (Waterbury)#5, Trumbull #6, Danbury #11…I don’t recall the stores that took the 7,8,9, spots, but #10 was the SWDC or distribution center in South Windsor.

    I worked in the G.Fox in the CTPost location for a few months before the rebranding of the Filene’s name. According to the yearly reports and fact sheets, the CTPost location when it opened, had the highest grossing opening day of any MayCo store at that time. Also, the $/sq ft in the CTPost store was the highest of all MayCo stores in the company, coast to coast. The store, originally built as a “C” store, Buckland was considered a “B+” did the volume of an “A” store (Westfarms) and was constantly being re-shuffled and re-vamped until recently when a third level was added last year. Now the store, is probably one of the most beautiful in my book in the Macy’s chain. Modern and full of light and uncluttered.

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  22. I’ve been coming to the mall since I was a little girl. I was tiny. At that age I couldn’t tell you that the mall looked great or not, but my guess is that it looked fine in the late 80’s, it was a comfortable look. I grew up and Started to work at the mall in “04”. I have to say, remodeling the Buckland Hills Mall has definitley brought people back to the mall. People that haven’t been to the mall for years have been stopping by, and asking me to direct them to a certain location in the mall, because its new (of course there are maps to direct them, but I guess a little help from the mall employees doesn’t hurt.). They Love the classy look. The New look definitley makes people want to shop more. The stores in the mall are affordable. Yes Classy High end stores in the EverGreen walk are nice, but who wants to shop until they are broke, or who wants to be a window shopper. Not me, I like to shop where I can afford the food and clothes and still have money in my pocket . The West Farms Mall is also a nice mall, with out a doubt, But they dont have a food court, (they have very few restaraunts) and they dont have a Merry go round for the kids, and they dont have a “play ground” inside for the kids to play in like the Buckland Hills Mall does downstairs. The Buckalnd Hills mall is also bringing in Two new restaraunts, the Blue Turtle, and another restaraunt/lounge (cant remember the name)
    P.s The restaraunt should bring in all different types of people. Mothers and Fathers with their kids, Some teenagers wont hurt, they like to spend money, and people in their 20’s and every body in between. This way the mall has a balance. I think the mall is fine. Its just gonna get better.
    And those are my thoughts on the mall.

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  23. Just found this site and have to say its great!!

    As a Greater Hartford resident and college student (although a NYC student) ill try to add some insight that I know of…

    The two major malls anchoring Greater Hartford are Westfarms Mall in West Hartford/Farmington/Newington and the Shoppes at Buckland Hills. This does not mean these are the only large shopping destinations in the area. Numerous lifestlye centers have popped up over the years including Somerset Square in Glastonbury (actually the very first lifestyle center), The Shoppes at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, The Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton and Blue Back Square an addition to West Hartford Center in West Hartford.

    Out of the two malls I personally see Westfarms as the upper class mall but on the other hand each store still has a variety of stores that the other does not. For example Westfarms only has an Abercrombie & Fitch and an American Eagle while Buckland has an Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Hollister and Aeropostale.

    Westfarms draws many of the areas upscale clientele to its shops which include Nordstroms (the first one in New England), Apple, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Cache, Express, Gap, J Crew and Sephora. Buckland though draws people who come to the Manchester/South Windsor area in general because it is one of the largest retail areas in the northeast and includes such big box stores as Target, Lowes, Home Depot, Best Buy, Christmas Tree Shop, Sams Club, BJ’s (opening soon), a movie theater, etc all in one area.

    The regional malls in the Hartford area need to stay competitive for their survival. For example just down the road from Buckland are the Shoppes at Evergreen Walk which feature very upscale shops and restaurants. Minutes away from Westfarms is Blue Back Square which is under construction and the Shoppes at Farmington Valley which draws shoppers from Avon (the regions wealthiest suburb).

    The Buckland area has drawn in many firsts for the Greater Hartford area such as the areas first Teds Montana Grill, John Harvards Steak House, Vinny T’s of Boston, Bellini’s Italian Eatery, Burtons Grill and rumored to become home of a Frank Pepe’s Pizza (a Wooster Street New Haven, CT favorite).

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  24. As a resident of Manchester for the entirety of 19 years, I have been visiting this mall for quite a while. I have to say, I was apprehensive when they were renovating it, as the Time Out arcade next to the food court was my favorite place to go. I can’t say I approve of the attraction in it’s place, but the rest of the renovation is fine.

    I just wish they’d kept the arcade, and Taco Bell!

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  25. Living here for 27 years here is some clarification. The mall has gone thru a few major changes, The recently reopened Dicks anchor was built from the ground up. The Macys current home store location was rebuilt 2 times, The first time was after the Steigers buy out when Lord and Taylor moved in. Then it was rebuilt again when Macys took over the space. The only original anchor was Sears that has not seen a name change since the malls existence. The D&L space was turned into the Filenes home store then it was used as the Dicks temporary space during their rebuild. The time out section was taken out because the mall wanted to become a more family shopping place and they wanted to do away with the teenage atmosphere and the nuisance that it brought.

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    John Reply:

    I went to the Buckland mall when It opened. The anchor stores were G.Fox, Sears, Steigers , Sage Allen, and D& L. Jc penney was added later.
    Dicks is whre Sage Allen use to be.

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  26. I have noticed how this mall has gone down recently. Although I don’t live in Connecticut any more, I’m in the area often and walk the malls for exercise. Buckland Hills has never been a favorite of mine. The giant squares are inconvenient for going store to store, and certainly serve no asthetic purpose. But not counting that, I have noticed that the mall gives off a perception of crime. Sometimes while there, I feel I have to be more aware of what’s around me. One can tell of a mall’s slide by studying the customer base, and if there exists a large majority there just to “hang out”, then that factor will drive customers to Evergreen Walk in droves. In the Hartford area, the problems were once contained within the city and in East Hartford, but I’m noticing now how these problems have spread to Bloomfield, Windsor, a little bit in Newington, and apparently now in Manchester. I think the management there is making the right moves to create a more family-friendly place, but with Evergreen Walk so closeby, getting the suitable tenants for Buckland Hills is a problem. With the Maine Mall in my home area becoming so much more upscale, it’s clear to see that Buckland Hills is moving in the other direction.

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  27. Abayomi…

    I realy enjoyed reading your blog, i needed some info on this subject for my new study economimy in the USA and your post helped me out a lot thank you for that …

  28. For the record, Lechmere opened across the street in the Pavillions Plaza, sharing anchorage with Toys “R” Us, Service Merchandise (now Michael’s Crafts) to name a few big ones. It’s currently a Jo-Ann Fabrics, like the Newington store. As far as I know, Lechmere never anchored any Connecticut malls.

    Another thing about Buckland Hills, if anything I think a perception of crime was evident before the blow-up and renovation of the mall and area. My parents used to to take us here almost every weekend so I practically spent a lot of my childhood here and in one of the few mall arcades (not more so than Westfarms). (Sort of) funny bits here, my father once had a verbal altercation with a few punks who were bothering me at the arcade when I was a elementary schooler. I’ll never forget that. There was another related incident, just stupid kids acting afool (if you will) though.

    After the renovation (including the removal of the Time Out arcade) this mall seems to have attracted more quality clinetele along with tenants. Sadly, I think it lost much of its appeal it had before they felt the renovation pressures. I’ll admit it used to be a breeding ground for a lot of trashy people, but I don’t see it as much anymore. Manchester itself is kind of a mixed bag, though nothing too much more than a working class town with much lesser woes than Hartford and East Hartford.

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  29. I suffer from Acraphobia, a fear of high open spaces. When the railings on the second floor were black and not see-through glass ,I could shop on the second floor by staying close to the stores.However, now that the railings are clear glass and the flores glass like marble ,I can no longer shop on the second floor.This makes it hard to shop for items for my teenager and other members of my family.

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    Rich Reply:

    @paula,

    I also have the same problem.
    Years ago I had no issues shopping the 2nd floor. However, the clear glass walls for the railings and the shiny marble floors throw off my balance. I have been on the 2nd floor and suddenly I feel a lack of balance and a wave of nausea pass over me. It is a shame because there are some great stores on the 2nd floor and I have difficulty walking up there. Especially since some of the store entrances are so close to the railings…I am only 30, but have had problems with vertigo (it runs in my family) as I was a competitive springboard diver when I was in high school. You are not alone, and thank you for this post as I feel some solace that I am not alone!

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  30. I liked this mall better when it was a golf course, and even much better when it was farmland.

    Anyway, Buckland is in trouble with the pending expansion of the lifestyle center down the street. I used to go to Buckland, but I haven’t been there in years. It’s just a dull cookie cutter place. If I’m going to mall, I’d rather go to Westfarms.

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  31. I understand the reason for renovating the mall but it’s only looks. A good amount of stores can’t stay open very long because of the ridiculous price to rent out a space int the mall. And now with evergreen walk open the mall is just going downhill. I also did not appreciate the arcade closing. And the design of the mall is not too my taste. Kinda tacky. Also just let me say, the crowd the mall draws is the same as it was before it was renovated.

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  32. Buckland hills was a nice mall and still has potential. The problem is the place has a happit of atracting the thugs from windsor, bloomfield, east hartford, manchester, and especially hartford. This in return has made the place uncomfortable for the middle and upper class shoppers from south windsor, glastonbury and tolland co. The place is notourious for car break ins and shop liftting. The only way this mall is going to correct this problem and the flight of stores as evergreen walk exspands is by more carefully monitorring the store chains they lease to, as well as better security, and much better lighting and police presnts in the parkking lots at night especially around the bus stops.

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  33. Mall traffic at Buckland Hills remains reasonable — roads congested, parking lot 1/3 to half-full on weekends — but shoppers appear to be going for very specific reasons. Here are some recent observations:

    — The restaurants are closing — most recently, Hops, Vinny T’s and J.B. Mack closed with no replacements in sight. The area is ringed by numerous stand-alone restaurants, perhaps too many for the number of shoppers.
    — Overall vacancies at Buckland Hills remain higher than I’m used to seeing at healthy malls.
    — Anchors B&N and Dick’s are always crowded — as is Newbury Comics, where I go with increasing frequency. Apparel. furnishing and accessory stores don’t seem as crowded.

    B.H. suffers from its isolation, high atop a bluff with only one major road going in and out; the complex is not as convenient to I-84 as it might seem on a map. This single road is shared with other big-box complexes that are more conveniently located on the periphery of the bluff — Wal-Mart, Best Buy, the ailing Circuit City, Lowes, Target, Borders, and Home Depot. The road is also shared with an apartment/condo subdivision across the street.

    I think all that traffic on one road discourages shoppers from committing to an extra 5-minute drive into and out of the bluff, especially when the lifestyle center and the Pavilions strip-mall are more accessible.

    The lifestyle center by itself is not a threat — everything there is very high-end, pricey, and fru-fru; it appeals to a thin slice of shoppers. But certainly it must be making it difficult for B.H. to attract upscale shoppers.

    Overall, I think the overdevelopment of retail in the surrounding area has resulted in a shortage of nearby residential and recreational/parkland options, resulting in far too many stores that are increasingly difficult to reach, while downtown Manchester withers. I’m surprised that South Windsor and Manchester haven’t done more to zone the development to protect existing retail, conserve land for future use, curtail congestion and promote livable community.

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  34. What three malls have you seen with the canvas roofing? The ones I can think of include Crossroads Mall (Nebraska) and The Mall at 163rd Street.

    Also, what do you mean by older food court vendors?

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  35. I would also add in Park City in Lancaster (the center court where they at one time had a very large fountain) and Poughkeepsie Galleria in Dutchess County, NY (on each wing going from center court)…haven’t been to either in a very long time, so I don’t know if they’ve been replaced.

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  36. I just found out recently that the Buckland Mall does NOT like people taking pictures there. I fully expected then not to alow photography infoors, so I went there to take pictures of the area outside and of the sunset. A security guy showed up and basically told me to leave since I was taking pictures. He said you aren’t allowed to take pictures there anywhere on the property – period. When I asked why I couldnt take them, he muttered something about ‘liability’. What kind of liability is involved, I don’t know. But anyway. I am surprised to see YOU have so many pictures, including ones insidei the mall. Perhaps I got the cranky security guys that day!

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  37. I take back what I said in February:

    Restaurants and stores at The Shoppes continue to close faster than they’re being replaced. Blue Turtle closed after less than a year, the comedy club draws little traffic, and the opening of Blue Back Square combined with expansion of Evergreen Walk seem to have doomed the mall’s chances of attracting high-end retailers. Meanwhile, the recession is drawing mall customers to the newer big boxes and discount malls nearby.

    The mall’s list of promised new tenants is not very impressive, compared to what has been lost. Here are the new ones:

    # Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant-Coming Soon
    # 90’s Nails & Spa
    # Charley’s Steakery
    # Coach
    # Delia’s
    # Forever 21
    # Funny Bone Comedy Club & Restaurant
    # Sunsights by Solstice (sunglass boutique)
    # Wet Seal
    # Panera Bread

    In its favor, the mall — with its spacious corridors and food court — still draws a crowd (especially in winter) that more likely to hang out for several hours. Evergreen Walk is a sterile outdoor location that is very unwelcoming as a gathering place in any season — people shop, eat and leave. Blue Back Square, which is an artificial downtown of retail/office midrise buildings with few indoor connections among stores, is no better for gatherings in wintertime.

    But The Shoppes must find a way to convince locals that it is a worthy destination, one with impressive on-site stores, food and entertainment. It should have lured the Hartford area’s first P.F. Chang, but Westfarms is getting it instead. It should have lured Crate & Barrel and The Cheesecake Factory, but Blue Back Square got them. Chico’s and L.L. Bean and Ted’s Montana Grill? Evergreen Walk got them.

    Without the lure of destination stores, The Shoppes has become too non-descript compared to its numerous neighbors which are more conveniently located. I go there for its Newbury Comics and Dick’s, but not much else.

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  38. Was the mall really “The Pavilion at Buckland Hills” or simply Buckland Hills Mall?

    Also, can someone answer my previous comment about the old food court vendors?

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  39. When the mall opened, what is now Dick’s was occupied by Sage Allen, not Steigers. They did a remodel of the space, but the escalators inside were original to the Sage Allen store that opened with the mall.

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  40. Is that PC Gaming Arena still open?

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  41. This mall has always been a failure because it attracts a young crowd. High school students dont spend money. They just walk around, make a mess and annoy people. When I was in highschool I used to hang out at this mall. Westfarms is the best mall in CT. Has the best JcPennys and it has some great restaurants with no food court to attract the youth.

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    A5634 Reply:

    @cabee, I agree – this mall is unpleasant for anyone over 18. It’s gone downhill a lot since it opened, at least in my estimation. For me it’s not only the age group necessarily, but the perception that I always have to keep watch over my shoulder and be aware of my surroundings. No mall should give that impression. It drives the people with the money away. Like me. There is no comparison with WESTFARMS. Once WESTFARMS got rid of all the movie theatres and replaced the stores and food court with more upscale offerings, the clientele changed and the mall came back.

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  42. A little history & geography–greater Hartford isn’t exactly like other metros. It begins bleeding into various secondary markets and the hinterlands for other large cities like Springfield fairly quickly. Besides Westfarms and Buckland, Enfield Square and Meridan Square (both developed by May Co., along with Naugatuck Valley in Waterbury) were designed to draw from the northern and southern peripheries. Hlyoke may be more of a draw now, but originally it was a bot of a failure. People from sizable nearby towns like Middletown and Cromwell would go to Meridan Square rather than Westfarms, esp. before the freeway system made Westfarms closer. Middletown had a vibrant downtown of its own with Sears and two local dept stores that did well far into the 80s.

    Buckland was designed to attract people from the areas East of Hartford, which have always been less affluent, less populous, and less densely populated than the areas W of the Connecticut River. It also has a big rural hinterland that, with a few exceptions, is one of the poorest areas of New England. In general, these areas also have had less growth than areas on the other side of the river. Hence, Buckland had a more captive and dispersed audience than Westfarms until recently. Manchester had been a hub for strip malls–the first Marshall’s I ever visited was near here. Manchester also had some pockets of poverty, although much of that side of the river was solidly blue collar and heavily dependent on Pratt & Whitney.

    Before Westfarms and even afterward, there were many relatively successful secondary strip-oriented shopping centers. Sage-Allen and A&P anchored centers in Windsor and Weathersfield. Westfarms was built across the street from the 1950s Corbins Corner Parkade which had Sears, Stop-n-Shop and second-tier stores like Kennedy’s (a Boston clothing chain) and D&L. A freestanding Lord & Taylor anchored the Bishop’s Corner district in West Hartford (that store was relocated to Westfarms). Basically, the area around Hartford has long had plenty of retail although large malls were relatively late to come into its immediate area. Westfarms was relatively small when it opened and was hemmed-in by it site, which is why it has converted space rather than becoming growing in size as much as one would expect. The Sage-Allen store was not very successful there and was cheaply done–the ceiling was “industrial” (bare) with an arrangement of multi-colored cardboard cards suspended under the ceiling to give it character.

    It’s odd that D&L anchored this mall. They were a New Britain-based department store, that mostly sold apparel with more women’s than men’s. Besides their flagship in downtown New Britain (a declining retail area where they were not far from a long closed JM Fields/Grand Union complex), they were in second string malls like Farmington Valley (a Bradlee’s/Stop-n-Shop property in Avon) and Corbins Corner.

    I could imagine that Buckland would have done fine until it had some competition and then it would be much more vulnerable than Westfarms.

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    Manch67 Reply:

    @Rich, I think it’s a lot more than that which has contributed to Buckland Hills’ downfall. Hartford is indeed unlike other metros, where people move to the suburbs to escape the city’s urban problems. First of all, Hartford has a HOST of urban problems; much worse than many cities twice its size. AND a lot of Hartford’s urban poor have emigrated across the river to Manchester and East Hartford. But the problems aren’t just there. Crime in ALL of the suburbs around Hartford has grown a lot- Windsor, Bloomfield, Newington, Wethersfield – WESTFARMS had no competetion nearby so it was easy to eliminate the stores that catered to this clientele. But what is Buckland Hills going to do, with EVERGREEN WALK in its back yard??? Not to mention that nearly bankrupt GGP runs the place. Doesn’t hold out too much hope for the near future.

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  43. One of the oft-noted features of Connecticut is that it suffers from a scorching case of population isolation. Even though West Farms and Buckland Hills are geographically close, they serve massively different demographics. Buckland Hills draws from Ashford, Ellington, Mansfield, Rockville, Andover, Willington, Bolton, Stafford Springs – and I can tell you for a fact that in 1988 those people were only going into the big scary world west of the river if they HAD to. Buckland Hills serviced that market. I grew up in Willington and my parents would have driven to Eastfield or Enfield to avoid West Hartford. Prior to Evergreen Walk, Buckland Hills was more than fancy enough to wow the East-of-the-River populace. But I remember being early into high school when Buckland Hills opened and even from day one the design and atmosphere were yawn-inducing. Especially compared to the eccentric wierdness of Holyoke and Eastfield and West Farms.

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  44. I remember a Sizzler being near by, it may be a red robin now?

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