The Fox Run Mall is the lone enclosed shopping center serving the seacoast region of New Hampshire. Since there’s no signage alerting you of the fact, many mistakenly assume the mall is located in the affluent and picturesque coastal city of Portsmouth, but is actually in the tiny suburb of Newington, just to the city’s north and west.
Opening in 1983 adjacent to the existing, four-anchor Newington Mall in a large and prosperous retail district, the Fox Run Mall featured Sears, JCPenney, Filene’s, and Jordan Marsh as anchor stores. The long, winding mall (here’s a leasing plan, in PDF) features approximately 600,000 square feet of retail space, with room for nearly 100 tenants. New Hampshire has no sales tax, so many malls in New Hampshire were built near state lines to take advantage of interstate traffic, and the Fox Run Mall is no exception: it is only a mile or two from the Maine border and only about 15 miles from Massachusetts, and near the junction of the Spaulding Turnpike and I-95. The only substantial anchor shifts through the center’s life involved acquisitions: Jordan Marsh was purchased by Macy’s in the mid-1990s, and then recently the Filene’s store was converted to a second Macy’s space in the mall as a result of the Federated/May merger. Unlike most malls that featured both a Federated and May store, both here remained open due to their relatively small size. The center sported a rather dark and heavily brown decor until a renovation in either 2000 or 2001 made it look the way it does today.
The Fox Run Mall did ultimately kill its neighbor, the smaller and older Newington Mall, in the mid-1990s. The Fox Run Mall (which is today owned by Simon) purchased the Newington Mall in 1995 or 1996 and evited all of the remaining in-line tenants, connected the two properties by road, and turned the old mall into a large annex, “The Crossings at Fox Run,” that consists almost entirely of big box stores and shares a logo with the Fox Run Mall. I’ll write some more about this in a separate post at some point.
While not the most entertaining of malls, the Fox Run Mall sports a few minor points of cool design. Two of the mall’s anchors are located off large courts, set apart from the mall itself, that give them dramatic frontage. In addition, the old Filene’s anchor is one of the edgiest and most interesting of their store designs, with triangular, glass entrances pushed to the corners of the building and a rock face on both the exterior and interior. Sadly, this store even sported the long-disused, 1970s vintage art-deco-styled Filene’s logo up until being re-bannered as Macy’s. The mall’s narrow and windy nature also makes it feel larger than it is, since you’re constantly twisting and turning through its hallways.
Perhaps the best bit, though, is their distinctive logo, which for some reason is widely known to many New Englanders who haven’t even visited the mall. For some reason, people just love that fox.