Alton Square Mall; Alton, Illinois

Alton Square Mall in Alton, IL

Alton, Illinois is a small Mississippi River city located 15 miles north of St. Louis.  With a population of about 34,000, Alton anchors the northern extent of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, which is the 18th largest metropolitan area in the country with almost 3 million residents. 

Alton’s history reads pretty much the same as all the other older Mississippi River towns, with a large, visible presence of core manufacturing industries which once made Alton a hub city and, for a time, even larger than St. Louis.  Much of the city, situated on steep bluffs overlooking the river, reads more like a Mark Twain novel than anything from modern-day America.  As the manufacturing industry has slowly left the Mississippi valley, the city has sort of become frozen in time.  In addition, during the mid-20th century, Alton was bypassed by the interstate highway system and lacked a freeway-grade connection to the rest of the St. Louis area until very recently, further hampering the modern economic growth other St. Louis suburbs like St. Charles and Chesterfield in Missouri have enjoyed.  Despite this, however, Alton’s economy has remained somewhat viable due to Casino gambling, antiquing, and Mississippi River tourism, and is nothing like the economic despair seen in East St. Louis and other parts of inner Metro East

Alton Square Mall in Alton, ILAs an anchor city for the northern-most tier of St. Louis suburbs, Alton has always been a draw for retailers and a significant suburban retail strip has developed along Illinois Route 3, the circumfrential highway which bypasses Alton on its outskirts, and US 67 north.  In 1978, a two-level regional mall was constructed near the intersection of IL 3 and US 67 on the northern edge of the city.  Alton Square Mall, which turns 30 years old in 2008, is a 630,000 square-foot regional center anchored by Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney, and 60 other shops and restaurants.  With an approximate 75 percent occupancy rate, Alton Square has had some trouble in recent years attracting coveted, popular national retailers for several reasons.

First, as mentioned above, Alton’s economy isn’t as sound as other areas in the metro and its location is inconvenient for those who are a considerable distance from the mall.  Thus, Alton Square never developed as a super-regional center like St. Clair Square, with its central location in Metro East and easy access from I-64.  Access to Alton from the rest of the metro area is improving, though.  Despite being on the Illinois side, Alton is actually farther from many of the other Illinois-side suburbs than they are to St. Louis, and only recently did ILDOT connect Alton with the St. Louis expressway system by extending IL 255 north of I-270.  In addition, MoDOT is expanding MO 367 north of I-270 toward Alton to freeway grade, giving Alton a better connection to St. Louis and the Missouri-side suburbs.  Still, Alton will probably never become destinational for St. Louis nor Metro East residents due to being up in the corner, and will probably remain regional in nature rather than super-regional.

This kind of brings us to our next point.  Competition from other St. Louis area malls and nearby retail strips, specifically in north St. Louis County, has also had an impact here at Alton Square.  The nearby Jamestown Mall, although a shell of its former self and not doing well at all today, and the retail strip along US 67 in north St. Louis County are signifcant enough to draw shoppers away from Alton.  In addition, large super-regional malls like West County Center and Saint Louis Galleria are only 30-45 minutes from Alton. 

Alton Square Mall in Alton, ILThird, Alton Square is extremely dated.  If you looked at the pictures, you’ll see immediately that the decor, signage, and all visual aspects of the mall are from the late 1970s era.  Dark, cavernous spaces with dark, muted colors and use of dull materials like wood and tile.  Shoppers today demand the opposite of this: bright, open spaces, whitewashed shiny appearance, and sterile, sterile, sterile.  Add some clusters of bland carpeting and comfy chairs with some cherry furniture and you’re golden.  And that’s kind of what Alton Square is up to, which brings us to our third point.

Alton Square, until 2007, was owned and operated by Simon, a behemoth company which owns many malls.  Due to this, several have inevitably fallen through the cracks before they were ultimately divested by Simon, and by then it’s usually too late.  See our entry on Machesney Park Mall for a great example of this.   And we’re not just picking on Simon here.  It seems like most of the behemoth companies with very large portfolios take care of the best ones, and aren’t as proactive about upkeep at these mid-tier regionals.  So in 2007, Simon finally gave up on Alton Square and sold it to a small group of investers, which couldn’t be a better thing for the mall.  Almost immediately, the new owners began embarking on aggressive plans to update the mall so that it’s palatable for the retailers people want.  If keeping a facility viable is a chicken-and-egg situation, the question is not which comes first in order to resolve viability (ie. modernize the mall, then retailers come vs. get a few retailers to come, then modernize) but who will get the egg rolling. These new owners, being local, have a vested interest in keeping the mall from dying and becoming a blighted eyesore and being forced to replace it anyway, so they’re doing what they can to keep it viable in its current state.  In early 2008, the new owners took these plans with them to the ICSC convention in Las Vegas, and in May 2008 they began the renovations in earnest.  We wish them all the best in preserving the mall while increasing its potential to serve the community and surrounding area, rather than tearing it down and starting all over again. 

The photos here were taken in January 2002.  However, until the renovations which are occurring presently (Summer 2008) most of the mall has remained unchanged with a few exceptions.  In September 2006 Famous-Barr became Macy’s, and we all know that story, and in June 2008 the original, old-school B. Dalton is finally shutting their doors.  Let us know what you think about Alton Square, or how the renovations are going.

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46 Responses to “Alton Square Mall; Alton, Illinois”

  1. Went to Alton Square and lot of the St Louis area malls back at the end of 2004/beginning of 2005. I found Alton Square to be cleaner and nicer than its competition Jamestown Mall across the river. The Sears for Alton Square is in a very odd location, next to JCPenney. If you look at the view from the air, you’ll see a lot of land north of the Sears. I suspect, and please correct me on this, that Alton Square was meant to be much larger with a full wing to the north where Sears is now.

    This mall should do better in the future, IMHO, as it is along a decent retail corridor, and far enough away from the big mall in Metro East, St Clair Square.

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    Natasha Reply:

    @Brandon,
    Sears was added in the late 90s, that is why it is in an odd location.

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  2. Let’s see.

    An un-rebranded Electronics Boutique (Should be Gamestop nowadays)

    Ah, and a still-in-operation late-1970s-era B. Dalton Bookseller. Most of which have been closed for the more profitable Barnes & Noble Bookseller chain. haven’t seen one of those around in some time.

    Add to that the somewhat darker interiors of the rest of the mall. Definitly dated.

    Still this is a nice find, and I feel the contrast in color schemes easier for me to take than the washed-out whites and pastels many malls took on in the 1990s.

    It doesn’t need renovations, just a little freshening up and some new tenants to take up the vacancies.

    JCPenney should do away with the mirror facade though. That’s very ’80s’. Maybe make it look more inline with the rest of the mall design.

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  3. It goes without saying that this is a very dated mall, but it seems to be in good shape for a neglected property. The historic value of that B. Dalton makes it worthwhile.

    In defense of the JCPenney mirror facades, they’ve certainly held up better as a retail signature than other large scale brand statements. For example, the Sears gray tile and blue signs from the ’90s are depressing and the May Company entrances from the same era are either really cheesy or really dull, with little middle ground.

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  4. Well, now that I think of it, I do give Penney’s that much. I’d say about three-fourths of the locations I’ve gone to have either had one of two enterior facades. The wooden one from the 1970s, or the mirrored one, pictured from this mall. Any others I’ve seen are from non-renovated late 1960s/early 1970s era “Penneys”-bannered locations.

    Sears’ didn’t even bother redoing their entrances until the mid 1990s when they went on that chain-wide remodeling sweep.

    I did forget to mention about Olga’s Kitchen in my previous comment too. The lettering design for its signage and just the overall look has that vintage-70s thing going on.

    I don’t think that chain ever got up this far (Wisconsin).

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  5. Except for the skylights and airiness of the place, it reminds me of the former Landover Mall for some reason.

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  6. I used to work for RadioShack, and went to Alton Square on a couple of occasions to pick up merchandise. I don’t seem to remember the mall being even as well occupied as in the pictures.

    There used to be a public library in the mall – not sure if there still is. Also, the Mall isn’t the easiest to find if you don’t know the area well.

    I’m surprised this mall is still doing as well as it is. Hopefully the renovations will bring some new life into this time warp to 1978.

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  7. Olga’s Kitchen is a really good, loosely Greek/Mediterranean-themed chain from southeast Michigan. Most of their stores are in their core market (Michigan) and they love to open in malls, and they seem to be expanding again which is neat. I know they were in both Rockford-area malls (Machesney Park, Cherryvale) in the late-80s/early-90s but those both closed about that time; I’m not sure where else they scaled back from as well.

    And Brandon makes an interesting point too, which I didn’t notice until now. It defintely looks like only half a mall was built, and they just pasted Sears on where the other half would have been. I wonder if Sears was added at some point later than the rest of the mall, or if not maybe the mall was cut back during construction?

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  8. olgas kitchen did have at least one restaurant in wisconsin it was in regency mall in racine it was great wish thay wood come back. tthay closed racine in 90s because the mall wanted to rase rent and tryed to also forse them to remodlel . eat at olgas when i go to mishigan as much as i can.

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  9. Regency Mall needs an entry here. That mall is dying fast.

    This year alone they’ve lost Steve & Barrys and are losing Linens & Things, both of which opened a mere few years ago.

    I do know for the longest time, that mall was a time-warp back to 1981 (the year it opened) and didn’t get remodeled until just a bit under 10 years ago. The remodel hasn’t helped it much.

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  10. first of all matt if you look atr regency it has both racine and kenosha for its customer base .vary few empty stores in the main line . steve and barrys is now reopened in a different store in the mall, there old store was two floors and thay only used one the oweners of the mall did not like this vary much. so thay found a new spot for steve and barrys, a burlington coat factry will open soon in the old steve and barrys location . thay will use both floors and be a better ancor than steve and barrys ever could be .as for the rest of the mall it has many high end stores like telbits and joe a banks clothiers. yes it has some low end stores also , but when you only have one shopping mall of that size to serve two citys you have to have something for evey one . and any store that closed recintly has done so as chains have been eliminated or have gone bankrupt, i do agree with you on the decore it could be better and it needs food baddly. cbl seams like a responsable develiper and now that thay own the mall im sure thare will be changes. over all i have been in a lot worse malls it is far from gone it is just a small mall in a small city.

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  11. @mallguy: That was my first thought upon seeing these pictures as well. I think it’s more the age of the decor than anything else; Lerner gave up on Landover Mall as soon as the area demographics started to change, and consequently, it resembled a ’70s time capsule until the end.

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  12. Whoa! Dated storefronts that appear to have never changed since the early 1980s! What appears to be a dead end near Radio Shack! Cavernous crannies! Wow! You could convincingly tell someone those pictures are from the mid-90s, at least.

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  13. It is very sad that simon would also let this mall “dump” from their controls.
    The same thing has happened with Columbus City Center in Columbus, Ohio where as of now the city of Columbus it forcing redevelopment of the center. Simon has also taken control over the former Mills properties, it will be interesting to see if any of the former Mills Properties will be open passed 2010.

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  14. John, I stand corrected about Regency Mall. Going by what you put forth, it sounds like they’re trying hard to keep the mall filled up. I do remember the more ‘deader’ end of the mall being towards JCPenney, but with Steve & Barrys and Linens & Things’ old space (which I’m sure will be taken by another ‘big box’ type store once they pull out), that really helped to fill out that end.

    Good to hear Burlington Coat Factory will use both floors of the old Prange’s/Younkers building. I always felt Steve & Barrys was a bit of an odd anchor at that spot.

    Anyhow, as for this mall, and it’s original owners, Simon, they’ve done this before. They left Memorial Mall in Sheboygan to rot away, never bothering to remodel it or fill in space when it became vacant. That mall really took a dive once JCPenney left in 2001.

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  15. We had Olga’s Kitchen for a time in California, too. They pulled out.
    Lots of stores in the photos brings back some memories. Funny how signage dates so quickly. They seemed up-to-date and cool back then. Now, it’s crappy.
    If a mall looses a Steve & Barry’s, what’s it’s next stop? The wrecking ball?
    Scott

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  16. Actually, Matt, the Prange’s/Younkers building you speak of was opened as a Bergner-Weise (later Bergner’s). It closed when PA Bergner bought the Boston Store chain from Federated (for the obvious reason).

    BIGMallrat, I’ve seen Steve and Barry’s opening up in A and A/B malls around here, so they’re not exactly a bottom feeder. BCF on the other hand, as they open up in mostly dead malls (but not always) can be.

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  17. Hilarious you’d mention that Regency Mall is dying…I guess that is a cursed name? I suppose some of you have heard of the DeBartolo-built Regency Mall in Georgia that is 100% dead and has been for about eight years. Also, while not my favorite of 1970′s designs…it is still nice to see a few of these modernist era simplistic malls still around. While modern era malls were often bland, they always had those really neat little touches like the fountains, planters, funky skylights and of course really cool mall entrances. I personally love the 1970′s JCPenney mall entrances…and there are very few still around like that. I have come to the conclusion that dark colors look more elegant and stand the test of time a lot better than light and bright colors. Now come down here and check out a mall near me where they’ve made a retro food court with wood, orange and green in a mall that is otherwise completely white. I guess the 90′s was the “heaven” look since they thought we would all be dead by 2000.

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  18. matt you are right about mimorial mall that should not of hapened there its the new strip with elder beermann that seams to have sucked the life out of it however kohls dint leave and neather did sears thay sem to do well as dose the hobby lobby and the bband b may be it still can be saved its one big problem i have alwas noticed is the in and out of the
    parking lot
    brandon the diferance this time though is regency went out and requrted burlington thay did not come to the mall curt puret the mall manager and his team are vary proactive leasing space in the mall curt also has been with the mall from befoere its opening in 1981 he has put his hole carer in to that mall

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  19. That Penneys is DATED. Does it still have the wood parque floor. The only Penneys I know with the wood floor is Stratford Square.

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  20. I was just in Stratford Square last month. Anchors aside, they really brought that mall up to date with the finished remodel. Before hand it looked rather bleak. Hopefully they can keep up with filling in the vacancies.

    John: That manager sounds very dedicated to the mall, and putting his whole career into it, I’d have to say to the community as a whole. My aunt and uncle live in Sturtevant, which is but a stones-throw away from Regency Mall, so somtimes when I’m in the area, I do swing by.

    The last thing that city needs is another Westgate, and by the way your posts read, it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening any time soon. Good to hear.

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  21. Sorry for the double-post, but I must correct myself from my first post to this blogging.

    I said “Still-in-operation’ in referring to B.Dalton. Went back and re-read the post. Disregard this.

    Guess B&N is shutting these down one by one as leases expire.

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  22. In some ways, it’s good that Simon neglected the place. Their makeovers ten d toward the generic. I recently was at Great Lakes mall, outside of Cleveland, a 60s/70s DeBartolo development that was not very well planned (one-level with long walking distances). DeBartolo gave it very little character (esp. the late 60s/early 70s expansion), but Simon just took out anything that gave it character. They also took out the seating and plantings and put in generic storefronts that they used elsewhere. It ounds like Alton might pull through a little better with other wonership. The problem is that B-level malls like this tend to do very poorly and local ownership may make it even more difficult to attract national retailers. Also, this sounds like an area where Kohl’s does better than A&F and the concept of a second string mall may work less well than a well designed lifestyle-type complex.

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  23. Chip, JCPenney never used parque as far as I know on a store they built from scratch. It was always that linoleum tile. Modern stores now use ceramic tile. The reason the Stratford Square location has the parque is that it is a former Wieboldt’s. They never switched out the tile in it.

    Oddly, it seems Stratford Square is doing much better than the newer mall, Charlestowne Mall. I’m of the opinion that Charlestowne Mall was placed on the wrong side of the Fox River in St Charles. It should’ve been over by Randall Road.

    John, cool. It’s good that they were proactive in getting BCF. Some of their newer locations can be quite nice. We have one here in Joliet (North Ridge Plaza) that opened about a year ago, and it is nice (and busy) (former Service Merchandise).

    I’ve noticed that coffee glass mirrored background seems to be on JCPenneys that date from 1977 through 1983 or so. It, IMHO, has stood the test of time well as a background for the marqee. Compare it to the rather bland Famous Barr marquee above (now Macy’s). Also, the upper floor of this Famous Barr was a clearance center when I went there in 2004. The lower floor was a standard Famous Barr. JCPenney and Sears were typical ones for a mall.

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  24. JCPenney used the smoked glass on their mall entrances until at least 1990. I know of at least a couple of examples from 1998 and ’89.

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  25. I think it’s slightly unusual and interesting that this mall has both a Waldenbooks and a B. Dalton, considering most malls(if they have one of those stores) only have one or the other.

    I’ll also say the skylights of this mall kinda remind me of Lincolnwood Town Center(near Chicago) a little bit. They also have an Electronics Boutique there too(a la Alton Square), that hasn’t quite gotten the GameStop rebranding yet. The comparisons end there however, as Lincolnwood was built in the early 1990s, and still has much of a 90s feel to it inside(other than the annoying TVs they added in the food court area in the last few years, and that L’wood is still owned by Simon). Probably one day will make a trip to finally photograph Lincolnwood…..

    (will continue further comments when I get home)

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  26. (cont’d) Alton vs. Lincolnwood comparisons aside, I agree with what a poster above said about darker colors looking more interesting in a mall over time, than a lighter color. However, its interesting to me how whenever you see a JCPenney logo(at least I get this feeling when I see one of their signs), it always has that contemporary feel to it, and doesn’t seem old. Don’t disagree in any way that the 1980s smoke/mirror background definitely makes this sign have a somewhat older feel to it, and maybe for all I know, the new mall owners and JCPenney will decide to modernize that sign at some point.

    Another point(and since noone’s mentioned this yet), I was slightly surprised to see the dark bricks on one side of the food court area, as I thought those had gone outta style in most malls long ago. Am I correct in presuming that this mall never had a major renovation, in the 3 decades Simon owned this mall?

    Thanks very much to Prange Way for posting about this mall, as I thought it was an interesting mall to profile.

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  27. One thing about this mall that I like is that it has a laid-back atmosphere. If this mall had trees and fountains, it would add to that appeal. Finally, for a 630,000 square foot mall, it looks pretty large (in those pics at least). One mall in particular that I remember, Greengate Mall, it was similar in size and looked similar in interior design.

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  28. I think we now have enough St. Louis malls (this one, River Roads Mall, and NW Plaza) to make an awesome Case Study of the St. Louis Malls. Who’s with me?

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    Erin Conner Reply:

    @Jonah Norason,

    Don’t forget Crestwood Court [formerly Crestwood Plaza].

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    Kristen009 Reply:

    @Erin Conner,
    Along with the aforementioned Jamestown mall in Florissant. I’m willing to do some research and take some pictures next time I’m up in the area if you guys are interested in a contribution. I’ll probably take the pictures anyway, haha.

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  29. This is what I know of St. Louis malls.:

    Nearly all the malls have Sears, Penneys, Famous Barr-Macys, and Dillards as anchors. NW Plaza & River Road we already know

    St. Clair Square (Fairview Heights) is the only other on the Illinois side. This one is over a million square feet and only a couple of empty spots on my last visit.

    Jamestown Mall (Florissant?) lost its Dillards and is having trouble keeping inline stores.

    Cross Keys Shopping Center (Florissant) was a small center with local grocer Schnucks as an anchor. Mall was demolished and rebuilt as a strip center.

    St. Louis Mills (Hazelwood) is the newest mall, opening in 2003. I don’t know much about this except its owned by Simon.

    Mid-Rivers Mall (St. Peter) is a successful mall with over 140 stores and two levels.

    St. Louis Galleria (Richmond Heights or Clayton depending who you ask) Large upscale center created in 1984 on the site of the former Westroads shopping center.Nordstroms will demolish the old Lord & Taylor anchor and rebuild a new store in 2010. Crime has been an issue here

    Chesterfield Mall (Chesterfield) Another large regional center with 150 stores. Instead of Penneys, this mall has an AMC Theater as an anchor.

    Plaza Frontenac (Frontenac) Smaller version of the Galleria. Has Missouri’s only Neiman Marcus & Saks Fifth Ave.

    West County Mall (Des Peres) Large 2 level upscale center with a
    Nordstroms as an anchor. Dick’s Sporting Goods is on the roof above the food court making a third level. Original mall was built in 1969 and was rebuild and expanded in 2002. Look for the large dove.

    Crestwood Plaza (Crestwood) A slowly dying center as seen on Deadmalls.com. Probably will be re-developed soon

    South County Mall (Mehlville) Succesful mall with very odd design. Only Sears and Dillards have access to the second level, which is not full sized.

    Westfield once owned Northwest Plaza, Mid-Rivers, Chesterfield, Crestwood, West County and South County and has since divested all it’s St Louis malls. Crestwood and Jamestown are owned by Jone Lang LaSalle. CBL bought the other 4 malls Westfield had along with St. Clair Square.

    I hope this helps. I’m sure I have missed other malls and omitted histories of shopping centers in this area.

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  30. I work for the small private owner (Coyote Management) that now owns Alton Square Mall. I am happy to see Alton Square getting the recognition it deserves as we are working very hard to make a difference at the mall and within the community. We would be happy to provide renovation renderings to add to this site that show what the mall will look like once the renovation is compete. Also, we are open to any other suggestions anyone has regarding events, promotions, new retailers, etc.

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  31. Kymberley,

    Does the mall have any abandoned jewelry stores, where the caselines are still intact? The reason I’m asking is because I might be interested in a holiday temp store on a % lease with the possibility to sign permanent in the right mall, if it is TRULY being redeveloped. I am looking for a location for my Elements concept.

    I have experience in this area, as I put myself through school operating locations with a different concept in Milwaukee. I also went on to design, buy for, and merchandise mall stores for our museum, and yes, these stores in some cases went permanent and remodeled.

    My stores never looked temporary, nor did they carry the generic, tacky stuff one would expect to see on kiosks. I carried an artisan product, with attractive to higher price points, depending on which concept I rolled out at the time. Many locals thought my stores were part of a national chain; I was constantly asked where my other locations were. I had great success, but unfortunately the management company that operated the malls I was in was Rouse, who was unreasonable. They reneged on almost every promise when it came time to sign a permanent lease, not wanting to renew for more than a year on a sweethart rent lock. Not surprisingly, many of the malls they managed ended up right here on these pages: DEAD. They always seemed to act as though they were bringing something to the table with their dead, empty malls. After I left a few of their centers, they would call me a few years later from time to time, asking me to come back on a % only. Ummmm, in a completely neglected mall where they’ve pissed off all the merchants? Not a chance.

    Anyway, let me know how to contact Coyote if you think there is something worth talking about.

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  32. Kymberly: Email “Prange Way” (listed in the link “About Labelscar and it’s authors” to submit stuff.

    CoryTJ: Not every mall on Labelscar is dead or dated. Huge, successful malls have been profiled, like Mall of America, Woodfield Mall, Riverchase Galleria, The Galleria, Natick Collection, and more.

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  33. John, noted. I just got the impression that this particular mall was at a crossroads. And I kind of like the area and location of this center. It seems to have retained a lot of its character, which I find fascinating.

    On another note, in this forum I haven’t heard anyone really speak of the potential rold of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in helping any of the dead malls. We had a real loser mall here in Milwaukee called Capitol Court. They tore it down years ago. Then enters Oakbrook, IL-based Inland Real Estate and turns the property into town center concept with open big box stores and it really caught on. The stores are so close together, and the layout so appealing to shoppers, the place in essence has turned itself back into a mall, for all intents and purposes. Inland also recently bought Milwaukee’s now closed Northridge Mall for $4 million (once valued at over $100 million in 1995) and they have begun to turn that into a mixed use space called Granville Station, with a Menard’s Home Improvement and a supermarket. It will be interesting to see if Inland can work with a developer and work some of their magic.

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  34. Prang way- I have emailed you before and after renderings of Alton Square Mall for the site.

    CoryTJ- Alton Square Mall is in the middle of an extensive renovation and have a lot of exciting things going on. We would be more than happy to discuss leasing opportunities at Alton Square Mall for your Elements concept . Please contact our Coyote Management Leasing Director, Susan Scott at 972-248-9375.

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  35. Apparently, there’s been a shooting at Jamestown Mall, which is in this area.

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  36. I just visited this mall in Aug 2008. It now appears as if Olga’s Kitchen has moved as it was next to the Cookie Factory near Macy’s. There did appears to be some re-tiling work going on at the mall and they are still in the process of updating it. There were several vacancies however.

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  37. I grew up in Alton (moved away when I turned 18). “The Square” is dinosaur that’s been circling the drain for 10 years. It’s not apparent from the photos, but at least 1/4 of all the stores are vacant at any given time.

    To answer some specific questions, the Sears was added on much later. I think around 2003 or so.

    The Olga’s hasn’t been moved. It’s in the same place it’s been since I can remember.

    Yes, there is a public library branch in the mall.

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    Mark Reply:

    @CarlosTheDwarf, Sears was opened in 1998, or 1999. I started working there in 1999, which was a year before I got married in 2000.

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  38. IMO, Alton Square is moving in the right direction.

    In the past year; they’ve carpeted the second floor, the’ve retiled the first floor, they’ve done something to make the place seem less dark and drab and they’ve changed all the outdoor signage to a new logo.

    The new Hayner Library is also open. It spans from Gamestop all the way to Sears, and it looks great. It’s a much bigger and nicer location. Of course, the old location sits vacant. ;\ For more info: http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/library-24923-hayner-people.html

    There is a deal with the city to build a movie theater on the property. This isn’t just a big deal for the mall, but the city. For more info: http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/alton-24135-theater-movie.html and http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/tax-24474-alton-amusement.html

    The new owners are moving things in the right direction. It still remains to be seen how the movie theater deal will shake out. I’m also not sure how a mall rebounds in this age with the city being what it is and the economy. If anything; things are progressing there instead of regressing further.

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  39. This mall is in serious trouble. Most of the upper level is now vacant. Only Champs and Vitamin World open in the middle section. about 7 stores total (Olga’s is open). Most of the lower level by Macy’s is vacant too. There are still some national chains by Penneys/Sears end. Sears and Penneys look fairly modern and clean, Macys is extremely dated with its wood panel walls and cobblestone tile, probably 1978 F-B original. The lighting inside is TERRIBLE!! Walking down the mall corridor at dusk is very, very dark. The retail area around the mall still looks, healthy, the Kohl’s nearby looks like it opened recently. But there are some abandon buildings too. A long gone cinema is close by

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  40. Wow, a blast from my past. I managed the Wild Pair shoe store here from early 1986 to mid 1987. I don’t think that I’ve been back since.
    Even back in the mid 80′s, this mall was fairly dead. I can remember having days when my first sale of the day was in the evening. I’m glad to see that the newer owners are fixing the place up and that it hasn’t gone the way of Jamestown. I need to visit Alton Square soon, just to see all of the changes over the last (yikes!) 23 years.

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    Kel Reply:

    @Jeff,
    Was The Wild Pair upstairs, by the escalator? I worked at Lerner downstairs for years. Good times. My high school after grad party was held at the mall….. I remember my friends at Lerner had put a sign of congratulations in the window for me… quite a while ago now :)

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  41. I was at this mall about a couple months ago, and it’s pretty dead. It doesn’t help though when I’m by myself, and a group of black kids decide to harass me. It’s actions like this that will help to hurt malls, because if security lets those kids stand there in the middle of the mall, and yell out immature comments, then people will leave and NEVER go back!!!

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