South Park Mall (Summer Grove Baptist Church); Shreveport, Louisiana

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

The cultural and commercial center of the Ark-La-Tex region, the area where Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas meet, Shreveport is a city of roughly 200,000 people with almost double that amount in the metropolitan area.  A truly southern city, Shreveport has roots in shipping, was the capital of Louisiana and one of the last battle theatres during the Civil War, and experienced the volatility of the American Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s.

Also true to its southern roots, Shreveport experienced a period of rapid decline during the mid- to late-20th century, owing in part to a changing economy away from that of manufacturing to one of knowledge, something Shreveport lacked with only one very small four-year college until 1976 - when LSU-Shreveport was added. 

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LAToday, however, Shreveport and its twin across the river Bossier (pronounced Bo-zher or Bo-jur) City are experiencing a bit of an economic renaissance, thanks in-part to legalized riverboat gambling, which spurned a revitalization effort along the riverfronts in both cities and the construction of a large retail lifestyle center under one of the main Red River bridges called Louisiana Boardwalk, which opened in 2005.

Until the opening of Louisiana Boardwalk, and for aforementioned reasons due to the declining health of the region’s economy, several of the area’s retail centers were in decline.  Both Pierre Bossier Mall, located in the east of metro Shreveport, and South Park Mall, located in the southwest, have not fared well through the years.  Centrally located Mall St. Vincent, albeit smaller than the three other major enclosed malls in Shreveport, weathered this decline through an upmarket base of stores.  Also faring well are the Line Avenue retail district heading south from downtown, and the booming newer retail strip along LA Highway 1 to the southeast of downtown. 

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church Burlington Coat Factory in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall opened in 1974 on the southeast side of Shreveport, near the interchange between the Inner Loop Expressway (LA 3132) and Jewella Ave.  It was anchored by Dillard’s, Montgomery Ward, JCPenney, Houston-based Palais Royal, and local Selber Bros.  Despite competition from two other enclosed malls in the Shreveport area, South Park held its ground, drawing shoppers from the affluent, growing area of south Shreveport.  However, trouble brewed during the 1990s as the area of west Shreveport just north of the mall on Jewella Avenue fell to rough times and developed a gang problem, which extended itself to the mall at times.  Even before this major shakeup occurred, changes were afoot in South Park’s anchor roster.  Palais Royal was replaced by Bealls (Texas) and later Stage, and Selber Bros. was replaced by Phar-Mor, which in turn closed in the early 1990s and was replaced by Burlington Coat Factory.  In 1995, a shooting in the parking lot of South Park Mall was especially bad press for the mall, and other crime at or surrounding the mall made front page news during the latter half of the decade.  In 1996, a young woman disappeared while she was presumed to be visiting the mall, and has not been found since.

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church former JCPenney in Shreveport, LAAs fickle shoppers go, they certainly went -away, that is, following this perception of crime and the “bad neighborhood” near the mall, despite that the mall and the retail strip around it were still in decent condition.  The first major blow was the closing of 175,000 square-foot behemoth Montgomery Ward in 1999.  Then, not long after, JCPenney closed their also-massive store, and Dillard’s hung on a bit longer, closing in 2001.  This massive defection of anchor stores spelled even greater woe for the in-line tenants, as many who didn’t leave during the decline of the late-1990s left during this period.  The mall limped along and finally closed in the early 00s sometime. 

So, in 2003, after putting the final nail in the coffin of the site’s retail history, an unlikely suitor came to the mall in hopes of purchasing it.  Summer Grove Baptist Church, a Shreveport religious institution since 1849, did some investigating and decided the empty mall would be a near-perfect fit for its needs, and in September 2003 closed on a deal to purchase the entire property.  They moved in 2005 to occupy the mall, and aside from transforming the JCPenney into a church-looking structure, complete with a steeple, have done relatively little to change the mall’s interior as well as the vacant anchors.  Numerous former stores, though, are being utilized, and have been converted to worship facilities, a day care, youth outreach, church offices, and more.  There are even a couple stores where church crafts are for sale.  Even so, many of the former stores are relatively unscathed; for example, a national chain shoe store still has brand stickers up on the windows, and many stores still have many of their fixtures.  The former Dillard’s, for example, is an abandoned, dark mess of old fixtures apparently operating as a storage area.   

 South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

Other interesting tidbits about the mall and its saintly acquisition include an apparent Christian music piece entitled ‘March to the Mall’ written by Jordan Eismeier in 2004, and the rumblings that the former Montgomery Ward building may be sold to the Louisiana Film Institute for classes and shooting locations - all family friendly of course.  In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, the mall was used as a staging area relay for disaster response.  Lastly, in other weirdness, Burlington Coat Factory still operates at the mallchurch (churchmall?), the only secular retail holdover from the mall’s heyday; however, it does not have access into the mallchurch corridor.

We laud this retail recycling, especially as it essentially functions as a dead mall museum of sorts.  We visited the former South Park Mall in March 2008, completely unaware of the mall’s current state, and were able to walk the mall’s/church’s corridors unimpeded, save for a few goofy looks from church patrons and employees.  The corridors and former stores were mostly empty, as it was a weekday afternoon, and the only people to be found were working in the retail shop, the church’s information office, and several employees who appeared to be janitors or building maintenance occasionally roamed around on motorized scooters.  In all, the whole experience was neat and unique.  Feel free to take a look at the pictures we took, and leave your own comments and experiences. 

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church former Dillard's in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA

South Park Mall / Summer Grove Church in Shreveport, LA south-park-mall-28.jpg

37 Responses to “South Park Mall (Summer Grove Baptist Church); Shreveport, Louisiana”

  1. is the brownish department store storefront Dillard’s or JCP? I think I see a “D” labelscar for Dillard’s, but maybe also a “P” near it for JCPenney. Or am I way off…?

    [Reply]

  2. I think it’s cool that the former mall got a new life through this church’ and it’s efforts. I also like that they left a lot of it unchanged. Bravo to them for using the current building and not wanting to tear it down in favor of a new building.

    [Reply]

  3. The Penney’s exterior was converted to the church facade with the steeple tower, so it’s probably Dillard’s.

    [Reply]

  4. Haha awesome. It looks like they’re going to get a lot out of this mall.

    [Reply]

  5. Reminds me of Forest Park Mall in the Chicago suburb of the same name. Most of it is now operated by a large church, and they have remodeled many of the inline stores into offices and classrooms. The makeover has been a little more thorough than this one but its still unmistakeably an old mall. I wandered through it one Sunday dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, and got a few quizzical looks from folks dressed in their Sunday finest.

    [Reply]

  6. You gotta love this. What a hoot it would be to wander about the old mall and discover any hidden treasures left over from its previous life. Who knows what is still there somewhere?

    It’d be like one of those movies where the kid gets trapped in the mall after closing time and has to spend the night. Lots of empty space to be sure, but I am willing to bet lots of funky stuff too.

    [Reply]

  7. It looks creepy. It looks like a church in some parts, and a mall in the other. Add that to a lifeless feel, and you’ve got this. It’s just too bizarre to be put in words, but I feel something. I really do.

    [Reply]

  8. Interesting you beat me to it Charles, as I was about to mention Forest Park Mall in the western Chicago suburb of Forest Park. Only difference between these 2 malls was that Forest Park Mall was definitely smaller than this mall.

    And of course IIRC, Forest Park Mall still has a few non-church inline stores inside them. I guess it’s safe to presume South Park Mall has at least a handful of non-church inline stores left, or were none left when the church who bought the South Park Mall property bought it?

    [Reply]

  9. Actually, Forest Park Mall has been completely gutted and no longer resembles the former enclosed mall at all, sadly. I took a swing by earlier this year and the portion of the old mall that was still vacant and being used by the church looked like it had been either demolished or gutted, and a line of stores has been put in that face Roosevelt Rd making this a regular ol’ strip mall. The mall entrance next to Old Country Buffet, which was still being used, has been converted to a store. So it seems like the church moved on or operates in a much smaller space here now? Also the long-vacant anchor on the east side is now an Ultra Foods grocery store. AJ Wright, a U.S. Cellular phone store, and about a dozen other stores are now where the mall once was. You can see it clearly if you load the birds eye view at http://maps.live.com (sorry, the link wouldn’t paste right here).  I should probably go dig up my photos of this mall from 2000 and make a post.

    [Reply]

  10. Great to see another mall from Louisiana, thanks PrangeWay for posting it! I went to this mall in June of 2001 and at that time it only had the Burlington Coat Factory and Stage anchors left then. I had went to Shreveport for the weekend with a friend and I hit all 3 malls in town. I went to the mall to go to the KB Toys and B.Dalton Bookseller, where I did purchase a big coffee table pictorial book of the Shreveport/Bossier City area. I also remember seeing a closed TG&Y five and dime store and Sbarro’s pizza too. I cant remember any other stores, I wish I would have picked up a mall directory. I did walk the whole mall and it was still about 75% full with inline stores. But the 3 big anchors were empty, it had been almost a year since the JCPenney had closed and about 6 months for the Dillards. But it was a pitiful sight to see even then with the 3 big empty anchors. I had never seen a mall like that in my life at that time and could not believe it. But I knew it was anchorless except for the junior anchors because I had checked there website before I left for the trip and they did not list Dillard’s anymore as a store. This mall was owned by Simon Properties at that time and it had the same generic website all there malls have. I remember the Simon signs hanging on the light poles in the parking lot and stickers on the entrance doors. I also went to the ToysRUs that was still open next door at the time. This was the first ToysRUs in Louisiana to close in there first round of closings in 2002 or 2003.

    I knew about Summer Grove Church taking over the mall, but did not know the mall concourse was still open to the public. It is kind of cool, even if a bit creepy, or depressing, to see what was once a great mall of the 70′s, now a victim of the demographic shift that hits so many cities. I had been following news about the mall on The Shreveport Times website since about 2000 or 2001 to keep up on what was going on with it and PrangeWay is acurate on most all of the information submitted. The mall started going downhill in the mid 90′s as the neighborhood started going down, similiar to what happened to Lake Forest Plaza in New Orleans in the late 80′s and early 90′s. A story we hear over and over again on labelscar.

    The exterior is very 70′s, especially the anchors. All the anchors kind of look alike to me. The exterior resembles many other malls in the deep south that were built in the 70′s. The interior looks like it might have been renovated in the 80′s, but it does look just like I remember it from 2001. Great classic mall still intact, I agree with PrangeWay on the reuse of the mall, and it does remind me of a museum. Something I never would have never imagined for South Park Mall, I was sure it would have been demolished by now. But that never happened thanks to Summer Grove Batptist Church using the building, and I hope it never happens!

    [Reply]

  11. Three minor corrections to this article. LSU-S was opened in 1966, not 1976 as reported. Palais Royal was never a tenant at this mall. They were located in Mall St. Vincent. Rubenstein’s is probably the anchor that they were refering to. It’s the only one I see missing and I’ve seen that mistake before. They were a little bit larger and more upscale Palais Royal was founded in Shreveport and at the time this mall was in exsistence, they were based in Shreveport. They were purchased by Wellan’s Department Stores. When Stage Stores bought Wellan’s, in about 1997, the resurected the name and created a new chain.

    [Reply]

  12. Okay, I should’ve read further. Rubenstein’s was the first to go. They were replaced with Phar-Mor. Later, the building was enlarged and coverted to the Burlington that is still there. Selber’s closed in 1988. Beall-Ladymon, moved to the spot from elsewhere in the mall. They were originally located near Wards where the movie theater was most recently. This mall was part of my childhood. Prior to the remodel about 1990, this mall had large fountains in every court, some with bridges crossing them, as well as yellow tiled sunken seating areas. This was the place to be when I was in high school, about 1992. I worked there during college, til about 1998 and it was still going strong. Though, it was starting to get a rep. It wasn’t til Ward’s closed in 1999 that the carpets were rolled up. It seemed to die overnight.

    [Reply]

  13. Kenney: Is that the Rubenstein’s store out of New Orleans? They still have a store in downtown New Orleans. I think that may have tried to expand to some other Louisiana cities at one time. Does anyone know if they ever had a store at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie? Or if Rubenstein’s had stores in other Louisiana cities like Baton Rouge or Lafayette, or other larger southern cities like Jackson, MS or Mobile, AL?

    [Reply]

  14. Yes there actually was a Rubenstein’s at Lakeside at one time, though I don’t think it’s there anymore. That was the only other Rubenstein’s which ever existed outside of the downtown New Orleans store (cnr. Canal St./St. Charles Ave.) as far as I know. I would think that the Rubenstein’s in Shreveport must be unrelated. But the period seems to be before my time so I can’t be sure.

    [Reply]

  15. OK Prange Way, thanks for clarifying me on what has more recently occurred with Forest Park Mall. Didn’t realize the inline space at FPM has been gutted, and the interior hallway that led up to Old Country Buffet are all gone today. And believe it or not, I once ate at this OCB many years ago(probably in the 1990s, before I believe the church moved in), too.

    I still suspect though that South Park Mall was probably bigger than Forest Park Mall(and from my memory of walking around FPM), but I have no way to definitely figure out which of the 2 malls was bigger.

    [Reply]

  16. I’m not actually sure how big this place is, but it’s definitely larger than Forest Park Mall, probably on the magnitude of Chicago Ridge or North Riverside Park Mall if that gives you an idea. It was definitely first-tier in size and tenancy.

    [Reply]

  17. The Rubenstein’s that was located in South Park Mall was a local chain. Their flagship store was in downtown Shreveport on Milam St. They had 3 Suburban stores. One in the Heart of Bossier Shopping Center, one in Uptown Center, and the South Park store.. Since my original post, I recalled that the South Park store was orginally M. Levy & Co., another local chain that folded in the early 1980′s. I don’t believe their is any relation to the New Orleans store.

    [Reply]

  18. Ah, I’ve definitely been to both those malls you mentioned at least once, Prange. So yep, I definitely see your point about approximately how big South Park Mall was(not to mention, I had heard about it’s decline into a dead mall).

    [Reply]

  19. The other mall in Shreveport, Mall St. Vincent, is very small for a metro area the size of Shreveport/Bossier City. It is only 550,000 square feet,with 1 level,and only 2 anchors. They started losing a lot of stores in
    the late 90′s, despite the addition of the Dillard’s anchor in 1991. But the General Growth Properties mall started to make a turn around in the early 00′s when they landed popular upscale retailers Banana Replubic, Hollister Co and Abercrombie & Fitch that had the closest locations 3 hours away in Dallas. Other stores that have the only Shreveport location here are New York & Company, the upscale Lee Micheal’s Fine Jewelry(a
    Louisiana chain), Strasburg Children, Cache, Aldo and Charlotte Russe. The mall was opened in 1976 off of Kings Highway just 2 years after South Park Mall. Mall St. Vincent pretty much lagged behind South Park up
    until the late 90′s when SP started going down. More good luck hit Mall St. Vincent when Interstate 49 began contruction in the early 90′s, and was constructed in the open land next to the mall. So know when you are
    entering Shreveport from the south via I-49, one of the first things you see is the Dillard’s and Sears anchored mall right next to the interstate. Just one quick exit off the interstate and you are there. So despite it’s smaller size(South Park is over 800,000 square feet), it had the stores, clear visibility off of an interstate, and a more central location to higher income residents.

    The big retail strip that PrangeWay mentioned is the intersection of Youree Drive(LA HWy 1) and 70th street. Since 2001 when a big Super Target anchored shopping center opened here, it has boomed into the top retail hub in all of Shreveport/Bossier City. Many big box, upscale chains and department stores are located here. There is Bed,Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Lowe’s, Circuit City(which relocated from just down the street), Cost Plus World Market, Linens N Things, Old Navy, Pier 1 Imports, just to name a few. The upscale lifestyle center, The Shoppes at Bellmead, is on Youree Drive, and brought many new upscale retailers: White House/Black Market, Coldwater Creek, Jos A. Bank, Chico’s, Francesca’s Collections, J.Jill, James Avery; more stores that had the closest locations in Dallas. Belk took over the former Kmart on 70th street in Eastgate Shopping Center that had been vacated after the second round of store closings in 2003 shuttered the last 2 Kmarts in Shreveport, this also revitalized the old shopping center with new tenants Show Carnival, Ross Dress for Less and Hobby Lobby and Carraba’s Italian restaurant. JCPenney just returned to Shreveport about 4 months ago, after an almost 8 year absence since the South Park Mall location closed in 2000, when they opened one of there non mall stores in the brand new Regal Court Shopping Centre on Youree Drive, also anchored by Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, with Logan’s Roadhouse, and T.G.I. Fridays’ return to Louisiana, DSW shoes, and more stores and restaurants on the way. All of this just north of the LSU Shreveport campus.

    Bossier City also serves the area with quite a bit of retail. Pierre Bossier Mall is not a really a dead mall like PrangeWay suggested. The 650,000 square foot mall opened in 1982, and is a very typical 80′s mall with a
    food court called Pierre Cafe, along with all the bright 80′s colors and designs. There is one empty anchor, the former Service Merchandise, but it has 4 anchors Sears, JCPenney, Dillard’s and Stage. David’s Bridal took a large portion of the mall when they opened a store in 2001. It has been hit somewhat by the Louisiana Boardwalk. For example, the Gap store at PBM closed about a year after the Gap Outlet store opened in Louisiana Boardwalk, however, there is still a mall store in the area at Mall St. Vincent. Pierre Bossier Mall still has an excellent location right off of I-20 in the middle of Bossier City. It is surrounded by several big box stores and shopping centers, and is near the area’s only Kmart, Books A Million and ToysRUs(this happened when the Shreveport store next to South Park mall closed). Not only is the older traditional mall being hit by the Louisiana Boardwalk, it is also being hit by the new Stirling Bossier
    Center, developed by Stirling Properties of Covington, LA, a few miles north of PBM on Airline Drive at I-220.

    This center is kind of unique in that it is a little combination of the traditional big outdoor 2 anchor shopping center and a modern lifestyle center. This is 1 of 3 of these centers that Stirling Properties has developed in Louisiana. Not quite a lifestyle center, but not quite a traditional shopping center because they are anchored by at least one department store, Belk or JCPenney, and all 3 centers have a Target, along with big box stores, and some small shops that you would find in a traditional mall. The Bossier City center has Belk, Ross Dress for Less, Best Buy, Academy, PetsMart, and then some smaller stores Lane Bryant/Cacique, Catherine’s, Justice Jewelers, After Hours Formal Wear, and more non mall stores/services like FedEx/Kinkos, Wonder Cuts, and a florist, tanning salon and similiar services, and outparcel restaurants Longhorn Steakhouse and ChickFilA. The newest center under contruction and development in Lafayette just opened the Target a few
    months ago. The Stirling Center in Covington opened in 2004 and has a Target, Belk and JCPenney and a Hollywood theater and a few more smaller mall stores like Kirklands, Maurices, Rue 21, and Hibbet Sports.
    These centers have the name Stirling, and then the city name, followed by the word center, and most are about 600,000 to 700,000 square feet.

    Louisiana Boardwalk was develeped to be more of an entertainment center, with a shopping center. It has almost all factory outlet stores, except for a few stores like Build A Bear Workshop, Yankee Candle, Wet Seal and Earthbound Trading that would be found in a traditional indoor mall. There is also a day spa and salon, nail spa and massage therapist spa. The Bass Pro Shops anchor sits right on the Red River near the Texas Street Bridge. There is also a Regal Cinema, a bowling alley and an arcade. Louisiana Boardwalk sits right across from the Shreveport central business district that gives patrons a nice view of the Shreveport skyline, especially at night, which includes the 2 very colorful casino hotel towers on the Shreveport side of the Texas Street Bridge and 26 story Horseshoe Casino hotel tower in Bossier City. It is also near all 5 riverboat casinos in downtown Shreveport and Bossier City. Since its opening in May 2005, they have had some problems keeping some restaraunts due to leasing problems and market conditions, and several restaurants have come and gone. But it also gave Shreveport/Bossier it’s first Hooters, the sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings, and just recently added Funny Bone Comedy Club, all this to mix in with the “entertainment” theme for the place.

    To have such small malls in a city this size always seemed unusual to me. I always thought the Shreveport area’s retail sector seemed to lag behind that of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s 2nd largest city, and other similiar sized cities in the deep south like Jackson, MS, Little Rock, or Mobile AL. These cities were getting malls that were near 1 million square feet or larger during the 70′s mall boom, while the biggest
    Shreveport ever got was South Park Mall. Baton Rouge’s population has only 25,000 more people and the cities Jackson and Little Rock are still under 200,000. Although Baton Rouge has a larger metropolitan area of 700,000(as well as the other 3 cities I mentioned) to Shreveport’s 400,000, Shreveport is the largest city and commercial center of the ArkLaTex, and serves it in areas of healthcare and jobs. But many retailers, especially upscale retailers, have chosen smaller Louisiana cities like Lafayette and Monroe to locate before Shreveport. Three hours is a long time to drive to shop in Dallas. Many of the upscale retailers that were in Baton Rouge for many years, were just coming to Shreveport in the last 5 or 6 years, when it seems like these stores should have located here many years earlier considering Shreveport serves such a large area.

    [Reply]

  20. Poor South Park Mall. It was the place to be from 1976 – late 90′s. I graduated high school in 1980 and everyone went there. It was really nice back then. Me and my friends would go there on weekends just to hang out eat a corndog play videos games or see a movie. I saw the first StarWars there in 1977. I bought my wedding rings there and so much more. I was borne and raised in S’port and the true reason why the mall closed is obvious to folks like me. The blacks took it over. I was approached on several occasions and was offered drugs for sale. No security. No dress codes. Loud groups of young blacks male and female pushing their way through the mall looking for something to do. Word spead quickly through the white community. And the whites stopped shopping there. After that it quickly turned into a black haven for young blacks to congregate. Thats the truth. I’m not a prejudice person. The media and the newspapers reported speratic gang activity there but never really reported that the racial divide is what really closes South Park Mall.
    R.I.P.

    [Reply]

  21. Just to clarify the “apparent Christian music piece entitled ’March to the Mall’”: it was written as the sixth and final tongue-in-cheek movement of a dectet that I composed in honor of my friends at Summer Grove. The instruments used [3 flutes, clarinet, bassoon, 2 trumpets, trombone, piano and percussion] in the piece were the instruments the made up the church band at the time, and I was the bassoonist. The entire dectet and many of my other compositions are available on my website: http://members.sibeliusmusic.com/eismeier

    I composed the dectet to be just a fun tribute to my experiences at Summer Grove, and my I moved out of Shreveport right as SGBC moved to the mall. I wish everyone there all the best and God’s continued blessing.

    [Reply]

  22. Replying to Anonymous’ post from July 9, 2008. : You are so right. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Those are the very core reasons why all malls fail eventually. Not just in the South either. You can replace black with lower income people in areas of the US that do not have a large black population. Its mostly class divide rather than racial divide. Even though the two often are interconnected. Middle and upper middle class want to be separate from lower middle and lower class. There are of course exceptions to this rule as there are exceptions to all rules. For the most part it is 90%+ true.

    [Reply]

  23. 100% correct on the mall closing Anonymous. The news reported the troubles and danger at South Park Mall and word of mouth was rampant. Gangs of youg black people wandering the corridors, daring anyone to stop them.
    I remember going to the Montgomery Wards store every year for school clothes shopping. I also remember caroling in the center court and working the Salvation Army angel tree in high school. Great memories of the mall and it is so sad that a certain population feels that the world owes them something and they can do whatever they want!

    [Reply]

  24. You are so right about the demise of South Park Mall due to thug activity. Tight security is what made Louisiana Boardwalk stand out as a good place to shop; we could take the kids there and it was like downtown Mayberry and I loved shopping again. The Youree corridor is such a hassle traffic-wise that I seldom shop there. I have heard that there have been challenges to Boardwalk’s security and that they will go downhill like South Park did if they don’t tighten back up. It is a shame that public places in general have become such a horrible place to have to go.

    [Reply]

  25. Yes. Darn those negroes. Alas, it’s just as well. A few years later those gibberish-talking brown people from May hee co would’ve done it in.

    All blacks are in gangs and poor.

    Noted.

    [Reply]

  26. I’m glad to see that Summer Grove Baptist Church is getting a lot out of this former mall. They’ve done a lot of great work turning the mall into a tremendous chruch. I’ve also noticed that since the church took over, the crime rate in that area has dropped tremendously and it’s now safer than it was ten years ago. I know all the crime and the mall’s decline pretty much happened over night in the 1990s sometime. I know in the early 90s it was still in pretty good shape and the mall closed in 2003 I believe. I know drive-by shootings and things like that started taking place in the area and the shootings in the parking lot. When exactly did the crime start taking place and why wasn’t mall security increased when that was going on?

    [Reply]

  27. Wow…. the floors, benches and plants are still the same. I miss South Park Mall. I graduated high school in ’98 and lived about a mile from the mall, so countless hours were spent in that mall as a kid. I know that it’s not politically correct to say it, but the others who blame it on the blacks are correct. Everyone in this area, white or black, knows it. I’ve heard black people say it, too.

    [Reply]

  28. I grew up in Shreveport and spent MANY an hour at South Park Mall with my kids–the good old days. I attended Sunset Acres Elementary, then Southern Hills Elementary, Oak Terrace JH and Woodlawn HS. Now I wouldn’t go near Sunset Acres/Oak Terrace/Woodlawn areas for they are high crime areas due to the lower income/drug/black saturation. I am not racist, but the facts are the facts. My parent’s first house and even my first house was in Sunset Acres. My parents even moved from Hyde Park because it was declining in the same respect.

    I can add to why South Park Mall declined (including the rampant gang behavior of the young black people). The Shreveport PD didn’t ramp up their presence to protect the patrons and run off the negative forces like they should have and they still are lacking all over Shreveport. Bossier City, on the other hand, enforces the law and will not tolerate lawlessness. That is why I have lived in Bossier City for the past 13 years . I feel safe and it is because Bossier PD makes it clear that they will do everything to not allow Bossier City to take a powerless position like Shreveport has, pertaining to law enforcement. Go Bossier!!

    [Reply]

  29. It’s puzzling why the church left the Burlington Coat Factory sign, still half-lit, inside the mall, complete with windows looking in! Why not just keep it a blank wall, and decorate it with maybe a mural or something?

    [Reply]

  30. Mr. C. Walker Jr., It’s troubling that you would comment that “all blacks are in gangs and poor” and that they are “gibberish-talking brown people” . That simply is not true. You sound like you are true racist and God don’t like ugly. I am a white female married to a black man with two beautiful, wonderful daughters and extremely proud of my girls and their accomplishments. I am exposed not only through my family with several different cultures but through my employment and can assure you that your comments are far, far from true. There may have been activities that led to the downfall of South Park Mall but be rest assured, it wasn’t from just blacks alone.

    [Reply]

  31. Allow me to contribute my two cents regarding
    Shreveport in general. Having attended Woodlawn
    High School, 1982-1983 marked my senior year.
    There was still a vibrant economy in Shreveport then but after 1983 the economy tanked very,
    very rapidly. Personally, in 1981 at age 16 I started with a small restaurant chain that had 7 or eight stores throughout North Louisiana and worked my fingers to the bone for them. Promises of future
    “part ownership” failed to materilize because the
    owners would place relatives and long-time
    outsider buddies into such positions. I left this chain of stores in 1987 and trying to make end meet with the very low wage often part time jobs that could be secured truly made for a long nightmarish chapter in my life. I have a photo album
    taken in 1990 when I drove around town with a camera. It documents the vast number of service stations, restaurants, deaprtment stores, and strip malls that were literally boarded up with sheet plywood. In a nutshell there was zero opportunity.
    I finally managed to get to college in Texas from 1992 to 1997 and today my wife and I are solidly
    upper middle-class in the Dallas area. Today when we visit my last relative in Shreveport, my 97 year old grandmother, I am reminded of all the pain
    and heartache endured in Shreveport during those years. Today despite some revitalization on Youree Drive and on the Riverfront, I still see Shreveport as a backward area. Unfortunately I now hear that GM will close its Shreveport plant and pull its 1200 jobs by 2012. More lost opportunit for Shreveport
    young people.

    [Reply]

  32. Hello,

    I had heard that you werethe having some sort of baby there where mothers could by new baby items at very reasonable prices and I am trying to find out if this it in fact true and I can not find any information about it.

    My daghter is expectng her first baby and like most first times moms is low on cash so this wold be something for here to check into.

    Can you please call me and let me know if this in fact the case 318-834-3190 also if it is not please take a moment just to let me know so that we dont continue to hunt for info on this.

    Thanks so much!
    Angie Cascio
    318-834-3190
    angsebayyahoo.com probably best to reach me by phone
    Thans!

    [Reply]

  33. [...] in competition with each other to see who can build the biggest building or the tallest steeple. One church finally just bought a shopping mall and stuck a steeple on top. They [...]

  34. You are so right about the demise of South Park Mall due to thug activity. Tight security is what made Louisiana Boardwalk stand out as a good place to shop; we could take the kids there and it was like downtown Mayberry and I loved shopping again. The Youree corridor is such a hassle traffic-wise that I seldom shop there. I have heard that there have been challenges to Boardwalk’s security and that they will go downhill like South Park did if they don’t tighten back up. It is a shame that public places in general have become such a horrible place to have to go.

    [Reply]

  35. I want to leave my 2 cents on the subject of South Park Mall and what happen. Gee’s where do I even begin. I’am 26 years old and I still live in Shreveport. I really remember the good days and the good times of South Park Mall. I have to respectfully agree and also disagree with some of the previous post I’ve read. I won’t name them all.

    As I said I remember as a young child going to South Park Mall to shop, eat, play and just have fun. I remember South Park Mall the carousel, the train at Christmas time, Santa Claus the Easter Bunny and the other events South Park Mall use to put on. I almost forgot, Halloween and trick or treating around the mall. The stores use to dress up and pass candy around.

    I remember going there for school cloths shopping and going there with my grandparents. To me it is just upsetting to see a place that I love going to so much as a young boy go down the waste. I know the church has it now but I still wish that South Park Mall was still what it was a mall.

    I remember seeing the Easter Bunny and Santa there at South Park Mall. I remember eating at El Chico’s and Piccadilly on Sunday after church.

    Boy those were the good old day’s. I’am only 26 years old and I know the true story of why the mall close.

    Alot of you’ll have misinformation. Montgomery Ward’s was the very first major store anchor to close it’s doors. Not any of the other stores that have been mention. Montgomery Ward’s sort of screw Simon Property Group, the parent company of South Park Mall. If you’ll remember correctly the mall didn’t decline to late 1999 to 2000 because of the nationwide closure and national bankruptcy of Wards. Not mid 1990′s like some of you’ll have mention. The other stores didn’t close till after Wards close. So have of what you’ll are saying is false. Also the mall didn’t fully close it’s doors to late 2003 into 2004 like some of you’ll have stated.

    Ward’s told Simon Property Group that they had no plans to close the South Park Mall location during there bankruptcy but that all change a couple weeks later when Ward’s sent Simon Property Group a lease termination notice.

    Once the other stores caught wind of Wards decision, they start sending notice to Simon Property Group. I will say for Simon Property Group sake that they did fight to keep all stores both the small stores and major anchors.

    I just think that Simon Property Group just got tired and fed up trying to negotiant with the other stores to convince them to stay. That’s when it went all to hell.

    Once the major lease holders decide they want out, that’s when Simon Property Group say forget it and start laying off staff and security. The stores did complain to ownership in late 2000 to 2001, saying look protects us while were still here but since none of the major anchors was planing on staying past there lease date Simon Property Group felt like they didn’t need to provide security. Simon Property Group actually told the stores they wasn’t providing anymore security. Alot of the stores call the Shreveport Police Department trying to get help but they police said they couldn’t help till a crime was commit. Yes the criminal effort did truly kill the mall but you’ll are totally not fully telling the truth to the story. The blacks are not the only race that killed the mall but the whites paid a part in it also. I remember getting stories and seeing stories of domestic violence between white couples at the mall.

    Yes the neighbor is trashy and yes there was gang banging at the mall. I remember the last 4 times I went to the mall before it fully closed. I went to shop at a local sports cards store called Legends which moved from there past location by Brookshires. Another time was to go to a underground night club that got put it. I remember when they tried so hard to bring in new stores and they try to revised the mall as a major shopping mall. I also went to the newer movie theater to catch a movie when i was at the Shreveport Job Corps . That was during the period of time as I stated above that Simon Property Group really did put in a effort to try to rebuild the mall .My very last time being in South Park Mall as a mall was to see a independent wrestling promotion called American Championship Wrestling which moved from Tyler, Texas to Shreveport. They was in the old movie theater by the entrance, not the movie theater that was based deeply in the mall.

    Well that’s it, if anyone wants to ask me any questions. I’ll try my hardest to answer them, please leave a reply.

    [Reply]

    Matthew Sutton Reply:

    One thing I’d like to add about this shopping center was that it was obviously a big retail destination for that area that met it’s demise rather abruptly.

    It’s sort of a Pompeii in that regard, I suppose.

    Instead of suffering decades of ruinous neglect as owners come and go and the tenant mix gets spottier and spottier while city officials vacillate and the neighborhood declines–this mall seems to have gone from thriving and well-maintained to immediately occupied by a church and well-preserved. There wasn’t the trees growing through the parking lot, kudzu overtaking the old Penny’s, vandalism, and years of weird partitions and dollar stores and nail salons that seem to mark the death roes of a mall.

    The observation made in one of the comments above seems especially astute: this mall would make a good museum. Maybe somebody should lobby the historic preservation society on this one; it half a century society might be sentimental about this utopian, car-centric vision of American life that thrived only a few generations back.

    [Reply]

  36. I’ve had the privilege of seeing this ex-mall in person.

    My younger brother was stationed at a base in Shreveport while he was in the Air Force. He decided to get off base and buy a home with some sort of low-interest military home loan program while he lived there. He bought a place in a neighborhood that must’ve been around a mile (quite close) to this mall.

    I visited him in June 2010 right as he was getting out of the service and fixing on selling his place. When I was down in Shreveport, I asked him if he’d ever heard of a local defunct shopping center that had been converted into a Southern Baptist church (I read about this mall on Labelscar while picking through the Louisiana listings). He laughed and pointed down the block and said yeah–it’s right over there.

    That night on the way back from the grocery store we stopped in the parking lot and sure enough…it’s like a steeple facade slapped on a Macy’s…crazy. The doors were all locked up, but from what I could tell it looked well-maintained on the inside.

    The Burlington Coat Factory apparently was still in business…making for an even more bizarre dynamic. Around the ‘back’ side of the mall was a “noah’s ark” themed Christian day-care with (I couldn’t make this up if I tried) a surprisingly large area of the adjoining parking lot carpeted in Astro-turf for a playground. That’s right a children’s playground on what used to be parking spaces.

    The entire place was very surreal: like a tidy Mormon Mad-Max or something. I have some photos somewhere I should try to dig up and post if I’m allowed to.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply


one × = 1