When Prangeway and I were taking a lot of road trips in 1998 and 1999, I was always trying to convince him (him being the, um, the one who owned a car) to go to the other malls in a lot of the random midwestern cities we visited. It seems that each time we tried, we hit pay dirt. Kalamazoo was a great example.
The Maple Hill Mall was located on route 43 on Kalamazoo’s west side, separate from the more successful and larger mall in Portage, on the south side. Built in 1971, Maple Hill Mall was the dominant mall in the Kalamazoo area for some time before the 1981 opening of Portage’s Crossroads Mall. The two malls coexisted for some time, but Maple Hill Mall went into decline in the 1990s. Apparently there was a plan around 2000 to try and revitalize the mall, but the loss of both Steketee’s and Montgomery Ward sealed its fate. Maple hill mall was also directly across the street from former Westmain Mall, about which little is known. Perhaps our readers can clue us in.
For some reason, we found ourselves in Kalamazoo quite late in the evening, and visited Maple Hill Mall several hours after it closed for the evening. Since everything was closed, the place seemed eerie even then, even though it was reasonably well-tenanted at the time. The anchors then were still Montgomery Ward, Steketee’s, and Target, plus there was a very bizarre Office Max store whose footprint stepped obtrusively into the mall itself (check thefloorplan at the bottom of this page to see what I mean). We waltzed around the vacant mall for a good ten minutes or so before a bike cop (!) came wheeling out of nowhere around Office Max’s poison corner to tell us that the mall was closed (obviously) and that we should leave. This was early 1999.
It’s unsurprising that the Maple Hill Mall was demolished and replaced with a power center in 2004; it was obvious even seven years ago that the poor old place had become a weak player and that it had lost its prominence. We didn’t take any of our own pictures, but thanks to Labelscar reader and commenter Bobby, we have an eerie set of pictures taken before the whole thing was knocked down. The whole set of pictures from his visit is available on his site Forgotten Michigan, along with a more complete history of Maple Hill Mall.