Our friend Jay sent us these cool early-90s photos of a pair of malls in extreme southern Indiana, just outside of Louisville.
These two malls are located in very close proximity to one another off the Lewis & Clark Pkwy. and Greentree Boulevard, just off I-65. Green Tree Mall is the older of the two, opening in 1968, with JCPenney and Sears as anchors. Later a Ben Snyder’s was added as a third anchor, and this store became a Hess’s before later becoming a Dillard’s store, which it is today. Despite a 1980 expansion, the Green Tree Mall was not terribly large, and as a result in 1991 the River Falls Mall opened directly across the street. Originally conceived as a somewhat more youth-oriented and lively center, River Falls Mall was initially anchored by Wal-Mart, Bacon’s (later Dillard’s), All About Sports, and Toys R Us, but also included a substantial entertainment component including a movie theater, food court, and indoor amusement park. After Bacon’s was acquired by Dillard’s, the chain used the two stores to split the departments in two (reminiscent of what we’ve seen with many of the former May chains after the Federated acquisition, except not within the same mall). The Green Tree Mall got the women’s department, while River Falls Mall received the mens and housewares departments.
Because neither mall was huge, they were designed to co-exist somewhat peacefully, despite a large overlap in in-line tenants. However, it was actually River Falls, the newer of the two malls by far, that became the dead mall, beginning to decline by the end of its first decade in existence. Bass Pro Shops entered negotiations with mall owner General Growth Properties to open in the struggling mall in 2002, but the mall went into steep decline during the time when Bass Pro Shops were in the process of locating in the center, culminating in the exit of the Dillard’s from River Falls Mall entirely in 2004. Not long after, both Wal-Mart and the movie theatres exited, and Dick’s Sporting Goods moved to the Wal-Mart space. When Bass Pro Shops finally opened in 2005, they built their store to envelop much of the former mall, and the remainder of this comparatively young mall was big-boxed shortly thereafter, making room for Old Time Pottery and Louisville Athletic Club to open at the mall as anchors. Jay tells us that Bass Pro Shops has retained the mall’s translucent tent-like covering over the center court area, plus the structure of the mall’s former indoor putt-putt area, which is now a bullet-free shooting venue (whatever that means!).
Jay adds that this similarly puzzling cannibalization has happened more than once in the Louisville area, a city where I’ve yet to visit (although it *IS* on my list, eventually):
The development of River Falls Mall was just another example of strange decision-making where malls are concerned in our area. Mall St. Matthews and Oxmoor Center managed (surprisingly) to compete while coexisting very near each other before they came under the same management a few years ago. But the failure within 10 years of Raceland Mall, which opened just down the road from the already-established Bashford Manor Mall in 1975, might have been a good warning for the developers of River Falls. For some reason, it seems we just can’t resist building our new malls mighty close to one that already exists.
Green Tree Mall:
Green Tree Mall front entrance, 1993.
Green Tree Mall JCPenney wing in 1993, looking to center court carousel. This shows the interior from the first renovation in the 1980s. According to Jay, the parquet portion of the floor showed wear fairly quickly.
River Falls Mall:
River Falls Mall front entrance, 1992
River Falls Mall front entrance interior, 1993. The stairs went up to the food court.
The second-floor amusement area in 1993, with the putt-putt in the immediate background. The food court and front entrance
were to the left, and the cinemas were behind the spot where this photo was taken.
River Falls Mall center court, 1993, looking toward the Wal-Mart wing. The Dillard’s wing is to the left of center court, and the front entrance wing is to the right. Directly above is the amusement area.
(Thanks to Jay for all the pictures and a bunch of the details!)