Reno, Nevada is the second largest city in Nevada, with a population of about 210,000 people and a metropolitan population of about 450,000 (including Carson City). It is not only the second largest urban area in the state of Nevada, but the only significant population center in the state other than Las Vegas, which is over 430 miles away. Reno is known as “The biggest litle city in the world” and is famous for its gambling venues, and its historical importance in gold mining and transcontinental travel have poised it for tremendous growth during the 20th century and beyond.
The predominant retail strip in Reno is Virginia Street, leading south from downtown to the outskirts of the city. On it, most of Reno’s major shopping venues, including Meadowood Mall, Old Town Mall, The Summit, and the now-defunct Park Lane Mall all stood. Today, Virginia Street is still the focal point of Reno’s retail scene, with several miles of box stores, restaurants, and strip malls.
Park Lane Mall was one of Reno’s first modern shopping centers, opening as Park Lane Center in 1967 approximately 1 mile south of downtown along Virginia Street. Situated on 44 acres, Park Lane Center opened with 448,000 leasable square-feet and was anchored by a 138,000 square-foot Sears and a Sacramento-based Weinstock’s. Other stores included Woolworth’s, Joseph Magnin, Rose Sporting Goods, and Kinney Shoes. A major focal point of Park Lane Center was a 25-foot clock, constructed many decades previous by Joseph Mayer of Seattle using parts from Howard Company of Boston. The clock once stood in downtown Reno since 1920, but the developer of the mall wanted to bring a piece of history to the new Park Lane Center, inspiring a sense of place and community in the new shopping center.
In the late 1970s, Taubman announced they were building a newer, larger enclosed mall less than two miles south of Park Lane Center at the edge of town. As a response, Park Lane owner Macerich decided to fully enclose their mall in 1977-1978, a year before Taubman’s Meadowood Mall opened in 1979 featuring Hawaii-based Liberty House, JCPenney, and Macy’s. This enclosure allowed Park Lane Mall to remain competitive with the new mall, for the time being.
In 1987, Macerich unveiled a new set of renovations for Park Lane Mall, in order to keep it up to date, featuring new entrances and an interior facelift.
However, by the mid-1990s all of Macerich’s efforts couldn’t hold back competition from the bigger, better mall to the south, and Park Lane Mall fell into serious decline. Sears left in late 1995, Weinstock’s closed in 1996, and Woolworth closed in 1997 amid a nationwide liquidation. Taking these issues in stride, Macerich quickly replaced the fallen Sears with Fresno-based Gottschalks in 1996, and demolished the vacant Weinstocks for a new theater which opened in 1998. The Woolworth’s remained vacant.
The first decade of the new millenium brought more hardship for Park Lane Mall. With an increasing number of vacancies, the mall was already not doing well when a brand new Lifestyle Center development called Sierra Summit opened in 2005. Featuring Dillard’s as well as the finest dining and upscale retail establishments in the entire Reno area, this outdoor mall even posed a competition problem for Meadowood Mall, so Park Lane was no match.
Running from the sinking ship, Macerich gave up the ghost and sold Park Lane Mall to M&H Realty Partners – based in San Francisco – in 2006, but not before making an odd decision to repair the historic clock. The new owner decided it was time to close the doors, and all the remaining tenants (not many) were kicked out at the end of January, 2007 and the mall was locked for good. Gottschalks, the theatre, and a few outlot businesses stayed open following the mall’s closure and eventual demolition in late 2007. However, Gottschalks finally decided to throw in the towel itself and is closing on December 27, 2008, with its demolition to follow.
So what’s next for Park Lane Mall? A mixed use development is planned, but as it is Reno a casino component is also rumored. However, with the economy in the state it’s in, we really don’t expect anything quickly.
We took the pictures featured here in August 2004. Leave some messages and let us know what you think, or your own experiences with Park Lane Mall. Also, what on earth happened to the clock?