Richmond Mall; Richmond, Kentucky

Richmond Mall opened in September 1988, a relative latecomer to the regional scene, as nearby Lexington’s three regional malls opened in the 1960s and 1970s. Richmond Mall enjoyed success for two decades, despite the eventual dominance of Lexington’s Fayette Mall, the largest and one of the best malls in the state of Kentucky. Local competition eventually did Richmond Mall in, with the opening of nearby Richmond Centre in 2008.

Located 25 miles south of Lexington in south central Kentucky, Richmond is a small city with 31,000 residents. Home to Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond has grown a lot recently. In the past two decades, Richmond has added over 10,000 residents, increasing its population by over 30 percent.

This massive growth spurt has been a boon to the city, and should have also been a boost for Richmond’s only enclosed mall, Richmond Mall. Except it hasn’t worked out that way. Located southeast of downtown Richmond along the Eastern Bypass, Richmond’s only mall can be summed up in one word: sad.

Richmond Mall opened in September 1988, a relative latecomer to the regional scene, as nearby Lexington’s three regional malls opened in the 1960s and 1970s.  Set up like a simple dumbbell, Richmond Mall is pretty minimalist and functional in design.

Richmond Mall enjoyed success for two decades, despite the eventual dominance of nearby Lexington’s Fayette Mall, the largest and one of the best malls in the state of Kentucky. Local competition eventually did Richmond Mall in, with the opening of nearby Richmond Centre in 2008.

Richmond Centre is a much larger, open-air center consisting of over 800,000 square feet of restaurants and shopping. Anchored by Belk, JCPenney, and Meijer, Richmond Centre features other popular stores and restaurants such as Panera, Childrens Place, Culver’s, Chik-fil-a, Michaels, TJ Maxx, Petsmart, and Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant. A Home Depot opened in the center but has since closed. Most of Richmond Centre is set up like a typical Power Center, but the central buildings retain a semblance of an open-air mall corridor.  A tiny semblance.

Sadly, and predictably, Richmond Centre caused a mass exodus at Richmond Mall. The two shopping centers are only two miles apart, both located along Eastern Bypass south of downtown. In addition to being more than twice as large and brand new, Richmond Centre is located directly along I-75, whereas Richmond Mall is a couple miles away.

Also, when Richmond Centre opened, it poached JCPenney, Goody’s Family Clothing, and Hastings entertainment directly from Richmond Mall. According to a article published in November 2010, Richmond Mall was 98% leased when Richmond Centre opened in 2008. Just two years later, the mall was less than 50 percent occupied.

In November 2010, Richmond Mall defaulted on its loan and was auctioned. According to the same article, the foreclosure came as a result of a lien placed on the property, which was owned by Richmond Mall Associates and does business as Bush Realty. The lien, which was sought by U.S. Bank, is valued at $16.4 million. The former owners of the mall wanted to sell the mall because they do not specialize in redevelopment.

Today, Richmond Mall has very few stores open. Most of the operating stores are on the mall’s west side. The food court remains completely empty. Aside from Sears, the eastern half of the mall is almost completely dead.

It’s shocking what a difference a couple years can make. I visited Richmond Mall for the first time in November 2011.  I came in the eastern end of the mall, which is the more vacant half of the mall.  When I left, I noticed a young man on a bike riding through the mall who exited the same door I did.  I’m kind of sad I didn’t see the mall before it died in 2008. Feel free to leave your comments.

November 2011:

22 thoughts on “Richmond Mall; Richmond, Kentucky”

  1. I wonder if the Payless here is being considered for the next round of closures?

  2. It was actually well on the way out before the Richmond Center took over. The rent was too high.

  3. The Sears doesn’t look like it’s full-line, only with the departments listed (it’s a more limited type of Sears).

    Surprised to see a Meijer this far south (by the way, yesterday, Meijer’s founder died at age 91), but it is the most southern Meijer.

    On a related note, surprised to see a Hastings this far north.

  4. Nice write up. Always glad to see a focus on Ky malls. And I did visit this mall before it cleared out. It was actually nearly 100% leased and pretty busy. Pseudo3D is right, that the Sears is only a Hometown store and not a full version.
    One slight correction though, the Home Depot planned for Richmond Center was never built. The project was cancelled when Home Depot went through that series of store closures. Here’s the loopnet listing for the pad.

  5. @Pseudo3D, Hastings is also in Richmond, IN, and another rare place for Hastings to have a store outside of where most of its stores are located. I’m pretty sure Richmond is Hastings’ only Indiana location, unless they suddenly opened(by any odd chance) 1-2 locations there that I didn’t know about.

    Sad to hear this one was affected by the power center/lifestyle center trend, albeit indirectly as one opened nearby. Has Bath and Body Works ever opened any stores in lifestyle or power centers, or do they stick to enclosed malls for the most part? Still though, I’m slightly surprised I didn’t see a GNC pictured here, considering they(along with Bath and Body Works) often tend to be the last stores to close when malls slowly die.

  6. One of the original anchors at Richmond Mall was a Walmart, which moved about 10 years ago. It became Hastings, Family Dollar and Office Max.

    Allan — I’ve seen plenty of off-mall B&BWs. There are even some in towns too small to have a mall, such as Gaylord. (However, I was told that they no longer wish to open in very small towns, as they declined Alpena about 7 years ago.)

  7. @Pseudo3D, Hastings had 2 Illinois locations, Normal and Jacksonville. Both of them have closed

  8. @Bobby P.,

    Yes, that is true. Wal-Mart was an original anchor. When it closed, they walled off the entrance of the former Wal-Mart store from the mall.

  9. @Allan in IL,

    There’s a B&BW in the Lakewood Commons outdoor strip mall in Lakewood Colorado, with the older style sign (next to Old Navy and Ross). There’s another B&BW with the newer style sign across the street in the new urbanist Bel-Mar shopping center. It’s kind of crazy having them literally right across the street with each other, but they’re both doing OK.

  10. Very Intersting……I live in Murfreesboro, TN and our Stones River Mall was being developed at the same time by the same people who developed Richmond Mall . Our mall struggled for a while with Wal_Mart and a tiny sears. It eventually ended up with a nice Dillard’s, JC Penney, and the same little Sears. Then came The Avenue Murfreesboro, a lifestyle center with a power center component and a Belk. Both seem do be doing quite well in their coexistance.

  11. I’m hoping to go to pay a visit and photograph this mall soon. From these photos the interior for some reason reminds me of Lexington Mall.

  12. I hope to see another mall here before Christmas, that’s all. Richmond Mall is cool, but…

  13. Love write-ups like these of the American malls – we’re based in the UK and we’re still very much playing catch up in terms of design here. I guess part of the problem is space. Still, some real benchmark stuff here.

  14. @Allan in IL, Bath&Body Works does open up in lifestyle centers. There is one up the street from where I live(Orlando,Fl) in a an outdoor setting like that. I go there all the time. There are lots throughout Orlando. hope this helped 🙂

  15. I remember as a young boy visiting my dad who lives in Richmond, and I remember visiting Richmond Mall. I had priceless memories there with my parents, and infact my mom and dad met in the food court at the Gold Star Chili. My mom worked there. They’re divorced now, sadly. The place is small and simple, but nice unlike Fayette Mall which was a block directly down the street from my mom’s house, where I lived. It was large and very busy. That was almost ten years ago. I went back to Richmond to visit my dad over spring break this year, and I went to Richmond Mall. The place was almost empty, the Sears is still there, along with Bath and Body Works, Payless Shoes, and a few other small novelty stores. The food court was completely empty, the entrance to the movie theater is just a wall now, and they were playing older music through the PA system which didn’t help the mood any, In the whole time I was there, I only saw five people shopping…. All I can say is, it’s sad. It’s sad how a place this nice can go down hill in less than a year. I would love to see this place full again, just to relive some of those early childhood memories,

  16. I remember this place being full and my mom would always get me a cookie. As a child I called
    This mall, the cookie mall. I also remember getting toys from KBToys, and my mom always going to Bath and Body Works. After that, we would go up to the food court for lunch. I remember the LAST time we ate there, and I always remembered the Food Court and Mall being so crowded, like the Fayette Mall today. I went there today… So sad. Everything (including the boards where they kept the names of the stores) looked so old. I remember the fountains going up and down in the center. I remember Goody’s being there too. I miss my childhood… I just wish they would rebuild the Food Court, and put new stores in. It may not be the same, like it was before, but at least it would be crowded and great again!

  17. My mom used to own the nail salon at this mall, I grew up here and made a lot of friends that worked in the mall. I moved away about 10 years ago. Till this day I wish I remembered their names to find them. This mall was packed before I haven’t been back since. I had friends at the Philly cheese steak place, I wish I remembers the name of it. And use to go to jolly time all the time.

  18. I went there back in spring to Gillums Sports Bar with my dad and sister. I walked through the place… it was sad. I remember the big opening to the movie theater was boarded up, and the Gold Star Chili, where my parents met, well, it along with the rest of the food court was closed. I looked in the old arcade to find the tables and chairs stored in there. But as I was walking through the mall, Bath and Body Works was the only place open that’s been there. Plus they were playing very nostalgic music. That didn’t make it any better at all. That big fountain by the Sears was boarded up. I remember kids jumping in it as a kid. Brought back memories…. so sad. The building and the property is not in bad shape, as Richmond grows, surely they can redevelop the place or possibly renovate it and open it back up. That would be sorta nice

  19. I remember Jolly Time was the arcade, my mom worked there and at Gold Star when she was in college. That Philly Cheese Steak place was good too.

  20. Update** I have lived in Richmond for about 5 years now. Never saw the mall in it’s glory days, but OfficeMax is now closed and BargainHunt has replaced it. Also, Vineyard Community Church has moved in and has quickly expanded into several old store locations. The church will likely take over much of the mall in no time 🙂

  21. Great write up, but there was never a Home Depot at Richmond Centre. It was planned….but never has been built.

  22. My hometown mall. I remember there wasa TJ Cinnamon’s bakery in the front of the mall. This has been years ago.

    When Dawahare’s closed all of there shops that started the long, slow, death of Richmond Mall.

    Wal-Mart moving out did not really hurt the mall all that much.

    I watched many a movie in the old Richmond Mall Movies 8. The best parts of the food court were Sir Pizza and Gold Star Chili. Jolly Time was never a favorite of mine but lots of friends loved it.

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