Randall Park Mall; North Randall, Ohio

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

The year was 1976 and the retail boom of building enclosed malls was near its peak.  Cleveland was no exception; even during a period of economic despair they joined the rest of America’s retail building boom, and embarked upon building behemoth retail centers across the metropolitan area.  The largest of these ever to be built, even as of 2007, was the Randall Park Mall in the tiny southeast suburban village of North Randall.

Randall Park Mall’s location in the village was strategically planned.  The mall is located on Route 8/Northfield Rd but also adjacent to the intersection of two interstates: I-271 and I-471, which together make a rough southern belt around the city of Cleveland.  Its location is also one of the most centrally located malls in northeast Ohio, between Cleveland, Youngstown, and Akron.

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OHWhen it opened, Randall Park Mall’s anchors included  Sears, JC Penney, May Company, Higbee’s of Cleveland, and Horne’s from Pittsburgh.  Another Cleveland-based department store chain called Halle’s had an option to build at the mall but went broke before they got a chance to exercise it in the early 1980s.  No matter, though, because Randall Park Mall’s fortunes fell flat during the same time period.  In 1978, only two years after Randall Park opened, an upscale mall called Beachwood Place opened nearby which stole many upscale shoppers from Randall Park.  Beachwood Place is successful even today.  Also, a few high profile crimes in the late 1970s and early 1980s including a murder and a well-publicized race riot kept shoppers away.  The mall continued to spiral downward and by the late 1980s most of the original top-tier retailers had egressed the mall for warmer economic climes in nearby centers.  Higbee’s became Kaufmann’s (Now Macy’s as of 2006) and Horne’s closed up shop.

By the late 1990s, Randall Park Mall was in perilous decline.  JCPenney’s 200,000 square-foot mammoth of a store converted to a JCPenney Outlet, and closed just three years later in 2001.  Dillard’s also closed, and many of the mall’s in-line stores changed from national chains to mom-and-pop stores, or worse yet became completely vacant.  The north end of the mall, where JCPenney and Dillards once sat, became especially vacant, and looks and sounds more like a cave than a shopping center.  The Horne’s location eventually became a Burlington Coat Factory on the upper level and a local furniture store flavor-of-the-year on the bottom level.  Also, a Magic Johnson theatres opened in the mall. Other nonstandard mall tenants such as a Church and a Jeepers entertainment-based restaurant for children opened in vacant store slots as well.

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

But why did Randall Park, Cleveland’s largest mall, fail?  It is strategically located in northeast Ohio at the intersection of two major interstates, and has five anchor spaces as well as spots for many national retailers.  The answers are most likely in the changing demographics of the area immediately surrounding the mall, and also in the normal evolutionary cycle of retail.  As urban sprawl extended away from the core of Cleveland, it brought new retail with it farther and farther out.  Because metro Cleveland’s population on the whole is relatively stagnant, the inner-core retail like Randall Park and Euclid Square Malls suffer while newer retail lifestyle centers like Legacy Village and Crocker Park.

So what’s next for Randall Park Mall?  I predict a slow, protracted continuation of its demise, followed by an attempt at mixed-use, and then either complete renovation and repurposing or blight.  It’s rather sad to see it fallen from its glory and in such a state as it is today, but such is the nature of retail.  In 2007 the Ohio Technical College announced plans to tenant the entirety of the 200,000 square-foot vacant former Penney’s space.

The pictures here were taken in June 2005.  Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what the largely abandoned huge building is near the entrance to the mall; it’s really scary.

Randall Park Mall outlot in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall outlot in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

Randall Park Mall directory in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH Randall Park Mall in North Randall, OH

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333 Responses to “Randall Park Mall; North Randall, Ohio”

  1. What’s with those funky window things in the center court? Maybe that’s what scared the stores away. lol
    But seriously I think sprawl did this mall in; it’s done alot of malls in so it’s no surprise. That and the area looks blighted and uninviting.

    However I never got the reasoning that demographics cause malls to fall under. Do national chains really think that minorities don’t have money to spend? I mean yeah the economy today is bad, but at the same time I feel it’s more or a race/class issue that causes these chains to think that every minority is poor and can’t afford their products. Am I the only one that thinks that?

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    jack Reply:

    @DRoman, this pic is of a old holiday inn

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    jmiles Reply:

    @DRoman,
    Generally to everyone. I was in the area on 7/13/12. Last friday. Went to Cam’s Asian Market, which is in the old Toys R Us building.. Everything else in the area is vacant. Randall Mall is completely empty.

    People are blaming Suburban Sprawl, but they’re wrong. It’s Urban Sprawl! The demographics of the area changed dramatically. It’s now just an extension of East Cleveland. In it’s final years, Randall was known as a dangerous place to visit. Near the end, I knew a Chinese-American couple who had a small jewelry store. The tiny, wonderful woman was beaten almost to death in a robbery.

    The village of Randall is not a nice place! I remember when the mall opened. Randall is no longer even vaguely similar to what it was when the mall opened.
    JB

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    ShortyC94 Reply:

    @jmiles, Everyone Can Agree That Urban Issues Have Effected The North Randall Area, And Are A Huge Reason Why The Mall Isn’t Opened, But To Say It’s A Extension Of East Cleveland Is A Bit Much Considering East Cleveland Is Miles Away From North Randall. You’d Have To Pass Through Warresnville Heights (North Randall’s Big Brother), Shaker Heights, University Heights, Cleveland Heights, And South Euclid Before You Even Get A Wiff Of East Cleveland.

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    SC Reply:

    @DRoman,

    I grew up in Warrensville Hts and remembered when RPM was opened for business. It was a very exciting time and the mall was a beautiful place to shop and simply walk around. I remember Coles books (one of my favorite stores) and the two video arcades the mall had.
    But some real craziness started to jump off in the mall during mid eighties. I had a cousin who worked in one of the big stores tell me of a story about a huge gang fight that took place there. Shoplifters were having a field day with the elderly and I even heard of an incident where a deranged boyfriend decided to drive his car through the lobby doors after his fleeing girlfriend.
    I was there over Thanksgiving weekend to pick up furniture at LaSalle’s for my parents and to see the place now is heart-wrenching. RPM looks like something out of Will Smith’s ‘I Am Legend’. Overgrown dead weeds, potholes and utter decay.
    And the old Days Inn across from it (at least that what it was last) could make for a perfect horror movie, too. All in all, it’s sad. All of those great stores that I grew up with as a kid in that general area: RPM, Zayre, Uncle Bill’s, Best, even Clarkins and Gold CIrcle. Guess what they say it true: nothing lasts forever….

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  2. That big abandoned building is definitely an abandoned hotel. http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/abandoned_hotel_in_ohio.htm has some pictures of it. Not sure of what brand it was, if any.

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  3. More specifically, it was a Days Inn.

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    Henry Reply:

    @Bobby,

    The hotel was built a Holiday Inn.

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  4. The Church N’ The Mall is very….uh….blue.

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  5. This briefly was the largest mall in the country with about 2.2 million sf. It was built on the site of Randall race track, a thoroughbred horse racing venue that was a second string counterpart to Thistledown, across the street. The mall was originally planned in 1960, when DeBartolo bought the property, but there were numerous hurdles (no pun intended), mostly involving the management of the track’s effort to keep the Randall race days (in most of the country hore race tracks can only operate a certain number of days/year) and transfer them to Thistledown. This dragged on through the 1960s. The immediate area, N & E of the track underwent rapid racial change from White to Black during the mid-60s, but remained solidly middle class. Areas to the South changed in the early 70s, but more slowly. The immediate area has a lot of warehouses, light industry, and odd kinds of retail (a long running Harley dealer, flooring places, etc.) which kept the area from being perceived in the same way as an inner city neighborhood and gained freeway access a few years after it opened when I-480 was completed.. There were not-so-credible stories about crime at the mall from the time it opened, but it wasn’t until the mid-80s that it lost evening shoppers and later daytimers, as more credible stories surfaced. The mall continued to do well after Beachwood Place opened. Beachwood Place principally hurt Severance Center, which had been the main upscale mall for the East Side and the Cleveland area’s first indoor mall..

    Halle was never interested in locating at Randall Mall and they forced DeBartolo to take down a sign for an unused anchor slot with Halle’s name. The mall had the wrong demographics for Halle (too middle income). Halle did build new stores in other locations (outside of Cleveland) during the 70s.Halle was owned by Marshall Field which merged it with a Columbus chain (The Union) and was liquidated once it was sold to Scottenstein (Value City) shortly after the Christmas ’81 holidays. One Halle store (at Westgate) briefly continued after the liquidation of everything else. Halle also spurned efforts to locate a store outside DeBartolo’s Great Lakes Mall in Mentor on property owned by a local developer.

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  6. To be as dead as it is,.it’s still a reasonably attractive mall.

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  7. The abandoned building began as a Holiday Inn and opened at appoximately the same time as the mall.

    I meant to say that the areas N & W of the mall changed in the mid-60s. there actually isn’t much residential E of the mall. Those areas remain pretty middle class to this day.

    Some more trivia: Randall Park Mall was a mile or so away from Southgate USA, which, a large strip complex that began in ’54 or ’55 and had a series of expansions into the early 60s. It had over 100 stores and a several office buildings. The anchors included May Co. (originally Wm Taylor, a moderately upscale store acquired by May), JC Penney (a dry goods store that expanded its selection to be a dept store), and Sears. Sears & Penney’s moved to Randall Park–K-Mart took the Sears space, which was arare two-level K-Mart. I don’t know what became of JC Penney. May continued for quite some time. May also had a huge freestanding store several miles north in University Heights. That 340K sf store was their first Cleveland branch and already was losing steam as they opened other eastsde branches; part of it was a clearance center by the time Randall opened. In the 90s, The University Heights store was demolished and replaced with a small mall with May’s successor brand (Kaufmann’s, now Macy’s), Target and a few other stores. Southgate initially tried to focus on service oriented stores, but continued to lose businesses, including secondary anchors like Woolworth’s, as various chains eliminated overlap with Randall or, otherwise closed. Southgate has been somewhat haphazardly converted into a big bix center attached to some of the old strip. The whole complex and its footprint of land seems much smaller than it used to be.

    Perhaps in anticipation of Randall Park, a number of chains built stores near it on Northfield Road: Zayre (one of their original 3 stores in Cleveland), the local Uncle Bill’s discount chain (a step up from Zayre, but more hard goods oriented), the local Giant Tiger Chain (a lot like Zayre), and several furniture stores. All of those stores are longgone and their spaces are either empty or underutilized. The Uncle Bill’s was #1 or #2 in volume for the chain during the 70s. The auto dealers, which pioneered Northfield as a commercial area in the 50s, largely remain.

    Like most DeBartolo malls, it struck me as lacking imagination in its architecture and materials. It’s main appeal was its size and its inclusion of stores and restaurants that didn’t have other locations in Cleveland or, at least, not on the east side. It’s a big white elephant that will be difficult to redevelop. It’s near a “new town” development in th recently incoportaed village of Highland Hills and is not that competitive a space for redevelopment. Someone would probably need to get some subsidies or tax breaks to demolish it and turn it into something else. Becuse of the freeways and light industry around trhe site, it probably would be a good location for labs, logistics, or backoffice operations for other Cleveland businesses, or expansion for one or more major employers in the area. It probably has no future as major retail, although it might be a nice place for a Lowe’s (Home Depot is at Southgate).

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    Johnythan Reply:

    @rich,

    Yeah I’m young only 25, but do remember the mall as my Parents used to push me and my brother around there in strollers to see Santa, The Easter Bunny, to visit our Grandpa who worked at Sears then and to just hang out there on weekends and do shopping during the late 80′s early 90′s was fun. I do also recall the Zayre’s on Northfield Rd. too usually after the mall we would go shop there too basically all I can remember is the bright flashing signage on the building which was also cool not many stores have that effect anymore now! plus they used to have a cool little snack bar towards the front of the store in which our parents would get them mini pizzas for us too. wow all the memories “) too bad no one on here has any pics of the retail that once was around the mall or even of this Zayre Store when it was booming! would be nice to see now. last time I remember it was still there closed up and vacant sitting along Northfield Road same goes with the Toy’s R Us and Value City further down on Miles where we got alot of our Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers figures and our Nintendo/ Sega games from throughout the early to mid 1990′s. Sad to know it’s all gone now

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  8. Wow! This is truly a gem of a mall. It’s got a lot of 1970s flair and you could tell this mall had clout at one point. Specifically, the mothership-esque ceilings, and bizarre terrazzo pillars almost remind me of something Taubman. It does, in fact, look warn ‘n torn.

    I love that “warning sign” as I’ve never seen anything quite like it… leaves me unsettled. I’ll bet you gasped in relief of the absence of a “Take pictures ….you will be arrested!”

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    Jessy S. Reply:

    I had a chuckle at the “If you sell anything, you will be arrested,” quote. If that is the case, arrest the remaining tenants.

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  9. I don’t mean to be racist, but shoe stores tend to be the last to leave dead malls. Finish Line was still open at Bannister Mall in Kansas City on its closing day. Remember the Christ Rock joke about malls?

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    dana Reply:

    @Fred,

    no i never heardthe joke about the mall but i’m sure it’s great!! tell me

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  10. Another case for suburban sprawl killing a mall. I braught this up before, it is very problematic for malls of this size to adapt when demegraphic trends work against you. Look at landmark & springfield malls in VA suburbs on this site.

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  11. I remember the Chris Rock joke, and I know of a lot of areas where that applies true to. Funny enough, he performed multiple times at a comedy club at Scottsdale Mall in South Bend, IN, in the mid 90s, which was certainly a mall that “white people used to go to”. And that mall also had a Finish Line open till it got torn down in ’04.

    And in dying/lower-class malls, it is still common for them to have chain athletic shoe stores. There probably are some demographic reasons for it, but the Foot Locker stores are fairly low-frill, not large, basic setup and such. Finish Line is usually far more elaborate, but business is good for them, so they don’t have to close many stores.

    As for the mall in question, what a shame, it still looks pretty nice.

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  12. Yeah, that warning sign was strangely contentious – moreso than the standard rules boilerplate they put up everywhere else. They must have had specific problems with the things listed, but gambling? Wow, okay.

    I think this mall needs to be repurposed because Clevelanders have clearly rejected it. Strangely, and I didn’t mention this on the article, there’s an older outdoor shopping center called Southgate just up the road from this which is doing fine. It’s a boring big-box strip thing now but it’s doing well. I really don’t think this mall could be saved in its current state, at least a portion would have to be big-boxed and the entire thing would need a huge overhaul to re-convince shoppers that it’s worth a visit after all these years. That said, it’s really sad that a few negative events and some competition can ruin such a behemoth like this. It sort of appends to the “If you build it, they will come.” mantra regarding large retail.

    And yes, the Chris Rock joke really does rather simply sum up a lot of malls across the entire country – this one included.

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  13. I was going to guess Holiday Inn, but someone beat me to it. I can tell an Edward De Bartolo mall a mile away. He used the same road signs, metal sign holders, and floor tiles in most of his malls.

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  14. The rust belt IE Pittsburgh, Cleveland Detroit… are tough places to opperate malls thesre days. Flat population growth, unessessary suburban sprawl and other factors lead some of these malls to flounder and die.
    When berlington coat moves in watch out-danger will robinson! the mall is on it’s way down.

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  15. I liked your article on Randall Park Mall a lot. Yet I saw that it said that Higbee’s became Kaufmann’s. In actuality, Higbee’s changed to Dillards and May Company changed to Kaufmann’s. Since I am from around the Cleveland area, I have personally witnessed these changes.

    If you have any questions or need more information, please email me.

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  16. Very different set of problems from Springfield or Landmark (I’m a native Clevelander who returns regularly & a current DCer), which are much smaller and have more long-term options. A mall on this scale is difficult to repurpose and a good example of why malls are a problematic way to develop property over the long haul–strips, whether they be oldies or “lifestyle centers” are more easily adapated to new niches or new land uses. Southgate is mentioned in a previous post–it’s size has made it less adapatable than other strips in Cleveland, some of which still do well after 50+ years, like Eastgate. Cedar Center which dates back tothe 30s is being completely redeveloped in stages, still as a shopping center.

    There are a number of healthy, long running malls in Cleveland, et al. You can find plenty of dead and struggling malls in places doing well economically. Atlanta is a good, if somewhat extreme, example. Simply too much retail has been built, relative to population growth since the 70s. Malls used to have lots of affordable stores like Peteris, Thom McAn, Richman Bros. Those gradually died off and were replaced with more upscale stores. Their niche is now filled by retailers that generally are off mall.

    Having a large proportion of stores devoted to shoes, regardless of niche (or race of customers), has been considered a sign of a weak mall for decades.

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  17. In the late 1990′s a friend and I took a Saturday and decided to road trip to Cleveland for some Christmas shopping. We live in Youngstown, but are from Pittsburgh originally. We stumbled upon the Randall Park Mall and to this day laugh about our Christmas shopping experience.

    It was a very bleak mall, even at Christmas time.

    My friend insists that she was the target of a racial comment from a group of youths. I didn’t hear it and was right next to her.

    We got little (no shopping) done there and it was only later when we were back home that we found out we were close to nice malls such as Beechwood Place.

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  18. Are chain shoe stores, jewelry stores, video game stores the last to leave dying malls? I see Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Kay Jewelers, EB Games in those pics.

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  19. I went to this mall last year and it was disgusting and I ALMOST WRECKED MY CAR DUE TO HOW BADLY PAVED THE LOT WAS. the whole shopping area is dead with CIrcuit CIty and TOys r us vacant!

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  20. Pet stores leave last as well.

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  21. Don’t forget GNC!! (what I’d call THE premier dead-mall anchor, especially since it was one of the last that pulled out of Wonderland Mall in suburban Detroit, and out of other similar dead malls) There’s probably one of those at Randall Park, too. :)

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  22. http://snltranscripts.jt.org/96/96emono.phtml

    Chris Rock was right. This mall has lots of chain shoe stores (embarrassing) and a Burlington Coat Factory (Big selection of baby clothes). What are the demographics of the surrounding area? Is there a big concentration of section 8 housing? Are shoe stores cheap to run?

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  23. And Bath & Body Works. Allan, GNC is far from an anchor.

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  24. Radio Shack must be the ultimate chain store. When the St. Charles, IL mall was dying around 95 I asked the guy working at Radio Shack when the store was going to close and he said “oh, it’s not going to close.”

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  25. I was just there in April. Went to see it one last time before it might die.

    Yes, the parking lot is very bad, especially on the part of the lot where Peney’s and Higbee’s once were – no one goes over there, and the lot really sucks.

    When my husband and I first started dating, we spent a lot of time there just walking around – we had no money. The first gift he bought me came from there, at the long gone Things Remembered.

    It broke my heart to see it like that. When I left in the early 1990′s, it still wasn’t too bad. Lots of stores, and restaurants. I was living in Youngstown, and this mall’s sister mall – Southern Park – is alive and well. It was a treat to run to Randall Park, and we did so frequently.

    We bought some shirts at Footaction USA. At that time, the girl in the store told us that their lease was up at the end of the month, and they wre out of there.

    My friend took some nice pictures. It’s even more desolate now, and the escalators in the mall are all “walled” off. The only ones working are in the anchors. The only way to get upstairs is by stairs, or the funky ramp system in the center.

    We also bought a belt at Burlington Coat Factory, and some pretzel bites from the pretzel guy.

    It’s the only mall I’ve ever been in with a fierce competetion between stores offering gold teeth, and the only time I’ve ever seen a store in a mall that sells blinged out rims.

    I will also say that we may have been in the minority there, but we never ever felt unsafe, or had people mistreat us. Go see it while you still can – it’s still 1976 in there.

    It was once a beautiful place.

    And if you make the trip, check out Euclid Square down the road. That one is just creepy!

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  26. As if the mall wasn’t doomed enough, the mall’s Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_Park_Mall) states that Whichard Real Estate is the current owner/manager of the mall. It’s a goner.

    It’s a shame to see such a large mall so dead. And the abandoned hotel next door… wow.

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  27. Railyn said: “Go see it while you still can – it’s still 1976 in there.”

    Judging from the pics I have to see I agree. I’ve been to deader malls such as Bannister Mall and it looked much newer simply because it IS newer. This place looks much more dated.

    I’ve got tickets to the Sox/Indians game this weekend; I’ll have to hit this mall too while I’m in town.

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  28. Well… I was there on September 1. This mall is dreadful! If obscure, mom&pop and/or urban shops are the hallmarks of a dying mall, this one sure has them. The blinged out rim store was mentioned in an earlier post. The discount furniture store below the Burlington store looks like a fly by night operation. The entire mall looks, well, shabby. The inoperative escalators, worn carpeting and plain old worn out tiles and furnishings are everywhere. Most of the fountains are shut off and look like they’ve been off for years, although strangely one was still running.

    The parking lot is a disaster zone. I found it interesting that the Cleveland RTA bus stop is in a far corner of the parking lot, far away from the mall building itself. Being late summer, the weeds are really taking over the abandoned hotel property. Its a real eyesore.

    I took a few pictures. I’ve inadvertently duplicated the Church ‘n’ The Mall pic but this way at least we see what it looks like when its closed. Who knows, maybe its closed for good. Security was everywhere so I had to be very stealthy taking pictures; that’s why they seem to be concentrated in areas where there are no people (i.e. – no open stores).

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1282/1320798290_82ae33e01d_o.jpg

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1341/1320798628_af2c3145da_o.jpg

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1190/1320799074_d5a6fc4eaf_o.jpg

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1366/1319912967_3cb9c5e1bc_o.jpg

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  29. I would not say Church ‘N The Mall is closed…if you look through, you can see a bulletin board. My theory is it simply is having church. After all, does your church or whatever have services every day?

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  30. Yeah, if I had time I would have come back Sunday and it probably would have been open. I was there on a Saturday afternoon.

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  31. On Saturday, September 22, 2007 the Mall will be buzzing with people for the American Heart Associaitons African American Family Wellness Walk, approximately 5,000 people attend this event at the mall every year. This is our 10th year Celebration.

    I worked my first job at the Mall at Fanny Farmer Candies and have always enjoyed the mall it was extremely sad for me to see the stores close. Because of my background with the mall I know that like me alot of people don’t go there often but they come out to the walk with their children and grandchildren to talk about what the mall once meant to them and to see what is happening now.

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  32. The big building used to be a Holiday Inn.

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  33. Are you sure it wasn’t a Days Inn? The site I found (see my post near the top) said it was a Days Inn. It could have been both; motels swap brands all the time.

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    Henry Reply:

    @Bobby,
    After the decline of Randall Park Mall, the Holiday Inn closed it’s doors and later opened under Indian management and was indeed a Day’s Inn.

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  34. It opened with the mall as a Holiday Inn. It had other franchises before it died.

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  35. There’s a little bit of a Days Inn labelscar remaining on the top of the hotel, on what is probably the stairway/elevator core. It doesn’t show in the pics here, so it must be on the other side of the building.

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  36. I worked at JC Penney from 1980 to 1997. This mall used to be a gem. What a shame. Seeing these pictures though, brings back memories. Too bad!

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  37. I have a Days Inn 2002 directory and it doesn’t list the North Randall hotel. It was worth a try, tho.

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  38. Abandoned in 1991? No wonder. Ooops.

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  39. Jonah, I like your line of thinking! Luckily I DO have a 1988 Days Inn directory, and sure enough, there’s the North Randall location listed there. 192 rooms, indoor pool, banquet facilities for 800, exercise room, etc. Located on the grounds of Randall Park Mall! (yeah some attraction!) And just for you insane trivia buffs, here is their phone number: 216-663-4100.

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  40. The Days Inn that keeps being mentioned is across the street from the mall itself. It is amongst a strip of other motels.

    The abandoned hotel in question is indeed a old Holiday Inn.
    I attended many banquets and events there during the late 80′s.

    There is now a Wendy’s restaurant at that corner.

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    Toby Radloff Reply:

    The abandoned and vandalized highrise hotel building started out as a Holiday Inn, then became a Days Inn by the late 1980′s. I am guessing that the hotel closed for good by the early 1990′s and has been vacant since. There currently is a Days Inn in Warrensville Heights, in the former Turfside Motel across the street from Thistledown. A lot of the surrounding retail is dead as well. Zayre (Ames) closed in 1990, and has been torn down…as well as the former bowling alley next door which was later Heilig Meyers Furniture-they closed with the rest of the chain in the late 1990′s. The car dealers are no more…Bass Chevrolet recently went out of business, and Ellacott Shaker VW moved to a new facility on Broadway in Bedford. The former Northfield Plaza Ice Rink is closed…it was an indoor used car showroom for Bass Chevy for years. The former Uncle Bill’s/Cooks/DIY has been vacant for years (this was built on the site of the East Side Drive-In Theatre)…an even older Pick-N-Pay/Uncle Bills building now houses a Save-A-Lot, a furniture store, a Unique Thrift Store, a Sally Beauty Supply, and a Mr. Hero. Other thrift stores, including Value World and Salvation Army, also operate across the street from Randall Park Mall now. I also remember when all of this retail across the street from the mall was built in the late 1960′s…these stores, as well as Commerce Ford (no longer in business), was built on the site of the former Play Land Amusement Park on Northfield Road. If you went to North Randall in the early to mid 1960′s, Play Land was on one side of Northfield (the East Side Drive-In and a Howard Johnson’s restaurant were on opposite sides of the Play Land), and Randall Race Track (where the mall is now) was across the street…Thistledown was (and still is) there. I miss those childhood memories.

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  41. The current Days Inn is across the street and a little further north along Northfield Road. But couldn’t Days Inn have been in the abandoned property too, if even for a short time? Maybe we are being confused by the “DAYS” lettering on the top of the building, which is visible in the photo I’ve attached below. But regardless, the abandoned building is clearly “on the grounds of Randall Park Mall” which is how my old 1988 Day Inn directory described it. They wouldn’t describe the present-day Days Inn location that way.

    My best guess is that the building was a Holiday Inn from 1976 or so until, say, 1987 or 1988 when it became Days Inn until it closed.

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1161/1439062884_522ac1a065_o.jpg

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  42. Randall Park was a great mall to shop at.As a kid growing up (I was born eight months after the mall opended )it was alaways fun to see santa and the nice decorations at Christmas time. I use to go their on the weekends with my cousins and spend hours looking around their was so much to do. Out of all the other malls i ve shopped at this will alaways be my faviorate mall. All the bad publicity and crime made it run down. Funny to her to comments about South Gate I work over in that area today and that to is mostly vacant like Randall Mall. I rember the christmas parade their and Santa Claus comming their must have been a million people their.It was magaical. Randall Mall is a lot like Rolling Acres Mall in Akron their are both in the same condition on their death bed.

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  43. The scoop on the Hotel and some thoughts on the mall:

    The hotel (in the parking lot, not the one down the road on rt. 8) opened as the Holiday Inn North Randall in 1974 as part of the Randall Park plan orchestrated by developer and Holiday Inn franchiser Ed DeBartolo. It, along with the adjacent Randall Park Mall (finished 1976) were built on the grounds of the former Randall Park horse racetrack. The hotel had its low points in the 80s, including a melee in 1987 when a rap radio station booked the ballroom for a show, oversold it, and fights broke out. It was not long after those years that the property lost its Holiday Inn charter, operating as a Days Hotel (an odd designation from a company that is better-suited shying from full-service properties) from approximately 1988 until early 1992, when it closed after selling rooms for one last New Year’s profit. It has been abandoned ever since, despite efforts by the city to sell it (and brief ownership by the TM crowd). Seeing that no one legitimate would buy it, the city took it off the market in 2001 and a liquidator performed a sale, which is when everything was moved down and stacked up in the lobby and ballroom areas to rot. At this time, many windows were left open, and afterwards, the city turned off electricity and heat. It has been moving downhill ever since, costing too much to demolish.

    About the mall…I worked at one of the nicer remaining anchors there from 2000-2003 during college on breaks, partly due to my odd attachment to the place, growing up in a suburb east of there. Randomly, I remember chats with the security personnel, one original member who was at the end of her career at the time, and her great stories over the entire span of the hotel, track, and mall, including surprise visits from DeBartolo, who would land his Lear jet on Thistledown and walk over with prospective tenants from the nationals. Once he had her open Horne’s to let him pick some coats, which he instructed her to pay for later in the day with the bills he handed her, keeping the change. She was a true professional, trained from when the three facilities shared armed officers who had deputy badges from North Randall PD. I also remember walking through the miles (no hyperbole) of labyrinthine service corridors behind all specialty stores and their host of service courts, compactors, transformer rooms, freight elevators, fire stairwells, roof access, old General Cinema, and the occasional open back door to a long-unleased unit. It was never hard to remember what things were, since the original unit names are hand-painted on the back doors to the specialties. The mall is a gem, though, if not an albatross. DeBartolo’s engineers got it right with Randall Park, and their system of terrazzo tile (from a supplier in Mexico), proprietary parking lot lighting, and chutzpah made it possible to build these centers quicky, and with professional touches such as no exterior dumpsters or delivery (six service courts at RP handle all input and output, and electric doors close when not in use). The mall tanked after DeBartolo’s death (and the coincidental closing of Horne’s) in 1992, losing its last first-tier specialties in 1998 when Beachwood added Nordstrom and its repositioning allowed more middle-level specialty stores who moved there instead of renovating their 70s and 80s RP spaces. The guard I mentioned always thought RP was DeBartolo’s favorite, and the family feud subsequent to his death meant that RP missed out on its chance at repositioning in the mid-90s, which turns out to have been its only chance, with retail thoroughly ensconced in maxed-out Beachwood/Lyndhurst and elsewhere.

    A bit of a shame, considering how well-planned the mall itself is. The bemoaned Rolling Acres and recently-renovated Parmatown are both rat mazes, paling in the (ephemeral) glitz of RPM.

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  44. Has anyone seen the DeadMalls.com summary?

    http://www.deadmalls.com/malls/randall_park_mall.html

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  45. hi, i’m doing a project on randall park mall and why it fell apart, etc. right now i’m trying to research on the history of the mall, such as why it started, how it was developed, who was involved, and pretty much what it was like before it started its decline. since i’ve just started going to school here in ohio, i wasn’t around for the beginning of when it was developing and when it was a more popular place. its been hard finding information online about the place and its history so i was wondering if there was anybody that i could talk to that grew up around the mall and knows it pretty well. also, if anybody has pictures or could give me a site with pictures when randall park was active, that would be great, too. if someone could email me at theinnocent3@yahoo.com, it would help me out so much, thanks!!

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  46. Does anybody have a list of stores? The ones that I could see were

    Diamonds Ruby’s (is that the full name?)
    Rave
    Foot Locker
    Kim’s Jewelry
    Cleveland Home Care
    Church ‘N The Mall
    EB Games
    Kids Foot Locker
    Sensation
    ???ma’s (name unknown)
    M???no
    Kay Jewelry
    Robinson Jewelers
    Taj Leather
    EyeMasters

    [Reply]

    Clark Reply:

    My@Jonah Norason, my parents used to own the karmelcorn shop and at one point, orange julious.

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  47. In my pics, there is a place called “Fit Quick” which is closed, and a Rainbow which was open. I also noticed a place called “Copasetic Thang” but unfortunately I didn’t notice what kind of store it was. Yes, they spelled “Thang” with an “a”.

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  48. The last time I was at Randall Park was about 1980. We were living in Strongsville at the time, so the mall was across the metro area. It would take a special trip to go out there (usually a trip to Shaker Heights because it was the only place in Cleveland to find bagels in the 70′s). We normally went to Great Northern in North Olmstead or Paramtown. I do remember the JC Penney’s at Southland (also in Parma, do know it is doing) burning down, in 1980 I think. We would move to Canton in 1981 and later to Chicago, so never saw Randall Park again. It is sad to see it die. The big building was a Holiday Inn, it fits thier pattern of the late 70′s.

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  49. Demographics and the success of malls have a convoluted relationship with each other. When I was in Randall in the early 90s there must have been about 50 stores catering to the urban, African-American youth at that time. All selling all manner of jeans at various price points, so it is not at though Randall didn’t try to keep up with the changing demographics; it’s worked for some malls, The Gallery at Military Circle in Norfolk, Va is the same way, almost exclusively “urban” stores with 3 anchor stores and is quite successful. There is nothing suburban about that mall at all, and it works. So to suggest that the only tenants that will be successful in a mall, are those that sell goods that wouldn’t work for everyone that shops at the mall in which it may happen to be predominately African-Americans is rather naive. Randall failed for any number of reasons; metro Cleveland was a lot smaller at the time, so there was a need for a Randall Park Mark, but today it runs all the way up to metro Akron. It was also a rather ambitious project at the time, as most malls were; bottom line, the concept of a metro area having an economic center is an old, outdated one; most suburbia has it’s own sprawl, and most shopping centers have sprawled as well.

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  50. The current Days Inn on Northfield Road (near Bass Chevrolet) used to be called the “Turfside Motel”, which later became a Days Inn franchise.

    As mentioned earlier, the Holiday Inn in North Randall later became a Days Inn, then closed around 1990 or so. A group led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (of Transcedental Meditation fame) wanted to buy the hotel and turn it into a TM-themed retreat center, but those plans were later scrapped mainly due to opposition by North Randall authorities. The former hotel building currently sits abandoned and vandalized.

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  51. Why in the world is this mall still open? Who would keep this mall going?

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  52. Macys just announced the closing of the Randall Park Mall Store.
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/industries/retail/article/macys-close-stores_420029_7.html
    I wonder what going to happen to the mall now.

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  53. Randall Park Mall was in the news again over the weekend; Friday night (Jan. 4) there was a shooting across the street at the Knights Inn motel, which left 5 people injured and several arrested. Of course this really has nothing to do with the mall, but unfortunately every news broadcast I saw mentioned the site as being “across the street from Randall Park Mall”. Being tied to a shooting story which leads off the nightly news won’t do much to help a mall that’s trying to fight off its “unsafe” stigma.

    Anyway…. Why was I in Cleveland? I had to go to Ohio on business, and took the opportunity to visit every sick or dead mall in the northern half of the state that I knew of. Southwyck, Woodville, Westland in Columbus, Canton Centre, Rolling Acres, Euclid Square and Randall Park. Oh, and Southland in Marion but it wasn’t as dead as I expected it to be; it looked to be nearly full and was packed with shoppers. However the others are in varying stages of death and I have lots of pics which I’ll post to my Flickr page soon, so stay tuned for a link. I’ll post a few comments as well over the next few days.

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  54. I worked at the mall for several years back around 2001 – 2002. First a few updates, the movie theater has re-branded, Jeepers is gone. Now it was announced that Macy’s is closing. Not sure on the date, but as of mid-January they were in liquidation.

    A note on the crime… it was real. Even worse, it was believed to be much worse, and in retail perception is truth. In response to other comments about the demographics being a killer of retail, well, it just isn’t so. It is all about the dollar. While demographics keep stores from moving into an area, it definitely does not close them. If the sales numbers hold, and the profitability holds up, then the store remains.

    The old hotel on the corner, now has a sign about a medical office coming in 2009. Not sure what that is all about.

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  55. This comment is destined to offend, but the reality is that Randall Park’s demise is a direct reflection of the large African American population in the area(s) surrounding the mall. The harsh reality, as much as no one wants to admit it, is that this particular “demographic” has a blatant lack of respect for virtually everything, and, generally speaking, does not have the money to shop anywhere other than discount department stores.

    Harsh words? Perhaps. But, unfortunately, they are TRUE. And what’s also true is that I would like nothing more than to see this trend changed once and for all.

    But culture and history has proven that to be highly unlikely.

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  56. As a black person living in Cleveland, I am not sure is Howard’s comment is all that racist. I was just at Beachwood Place this evening and I noticed that the mal has considerably more black shoppers which is good in terms boosting the economy with their tax return money. However the atmosphere is changing rapidly to bad. The noise level of teens, the sagging pants, strollers filled with screaming babies, small children running around stores and screaming at the top of their lungs, store employees asking small unattended children to refrain from climbing on displays (their mothers are too busy with searching the clearance racks to notice) and theft–need I say more? I wonder how long it will take for Beachwood to go the way of RP and more recently, Richmond Town Square. It angers me that while black people are not the only folks who misbehave in malls, we sure do a good job of pronouncing our disdain for civility no matter where we go. When will we learn?

    [Reply]

    Henry Reply:

    @shakermama,
    Let’s get real here! I lived about 7 minutes (car drive) from Randall Mall. DeBartolo never completed his original vision of the complex. None the less, black people nor any other race of people have the power to impact the financial stability of billionaires who are TRULY committed to their projects and investments. Times have changed and the culture of some younger people have not changed for the better. Many were sagging pants and have screaming babies… of all races. We (black people) are a convenient scape goat. Had that man (DeBartolo) been more committed to his venue, there isn’t a sagging ass that could have truly kept him from keeping secure what he has invested in. Plus it’s a proven statistic that we (the uncivilized) spend more discrecionary income. Don’t live life in stereotype.

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  57. I’m a member of Church N’ The Mall and Pastor Matthew’s vision of turing the Mall back into a thriving hub will come to pass. Please join us for service at 1:00pm and be apart of the vision.

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  58. I used to work a couple of miles from Randal Park Mall in the late 80′s to the late 90′s. There’s a fast food heaven just down the street and that’s where I ate lunch. Afterwards, my friend and I would go to Randal Park to kill time, shop or play video games.
    I’m sorry to see it in such bad shape, as I like the mall, and it’s decor. It was already going down hill then but was still pleasant.
    I think the abandoned hotel didn’t do much to enhance the area either.
    Most of the people that I know (I live in Lyndhurst) shifted to Beachwood Mall, La Place and recently Legacy Village… They didn’t like the “Race Track” crowd. I’ll leave it to you to “interpret” that classification.
    I had many people tell me it was dangerous, but during lunch and after work, it didn’t see so to me in the late 80′s and 90′s.
    Now, Euclid Square Mall that place used to scare me a lot… especially walking through the parking lots….

    Retired in Cleveland….

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  59. Zoinks! A church n the mall?! I would love to be apart from that vision.

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  60. To clarify:
    It wasn’t a race riot in the early nineties it was a gang riot complete with ‘gunfire’! The gunfire later proved to be popped baloons…The mall was already dying at this point.
    In 1983 or so, I remember seeing a kid lying on the floor, upstairs by Scotto’s pizza, bleeding from a knife wound in his back.
    It’s a shame..that was MY mall. I grew up within walking distance. I remember seeing Santa & the Easter bunny there. I remember the fountains, the walking ramps, Toyco, the Hobby Shop, both arcades, The Tinder Box, Camelot, World Bazarr, Coney Island, the Original Cookie Company… that mall had just about every niche store you could imagine. And as a little kid it was like going to an amusement park. It was huge and packed with people…But this was when the music stores sold records!

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  61. Regarding the 1st pic:
    I remember watching a 1950/60′s style rock band play on the stage. (at the bottom of the pic, blue carpet. It was red then)
    The old General Cinema is located behind DIAMONDS MEN’S STORE. The lines used to stretch out and down the ramps. After buying your ticket you had to climb about 20 steps to reach the lobby/concession area. The bathrooms were another flight up but were connected to all 3 theaters. So with a little savvy and luck you could see 3 movies for the price of 1.

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  62. Here’a a link to pics of the theater:
    http://otherworlds.homeip.net/Randall/

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  63. Here’a a link to video of an auto show from 1985:

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  64. The church’s mall plan may have struck out with the investors, so there the facility sits hemorrhaging units and looking more and more like an abandoned building. Muzak seems to be off, main fountain water level has evaporated below the filter intake and grows murky, and the redolent air of rot wafts from the open door to the former General Cinemas…that place must be the pits now since the whole upper level stinks of said theatre’s bad roof.

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  65. that is definately a Holiday Inn Hotel that is abandoned and why did they change the name from Magic Johnson Theaters to the O theater???

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  66. Dee,

    I think that AMC Theatres who owns both Loews & Magic Jonson theatres maybe pulling out of the Cleveland market. The theatre at Richmond Townsquare last year was baught buy Regal Cinemas, as they are the #1 circuit in greater Cleveland.

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  67. I paid my last respects to the Mall a couple of months back on a Saturday. It was virtually empty. I worked there in its heyday.

    Shadow of its former self.

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  68. The mall was never really run correctly. Just by its neighborhood it got dangerous quick. And once it got dangerous, people stopped going. That’s really about all I can say about this place.

    [Reply]

    Clark Reply:

    @Jack, Well Jack, unfortunately it was assumptions like that that put the mall under. I grew up there, my parents owned a store until I was 16. I spent most holidays, weekends, and even weekdays at the mall and never had a problem with it being “dangerous”. It’s sad that the media has such a strong effect on society, especially when stories are blown out of proportion.

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  69. Randall ‘Park Mall use to be full of life but crime and violence is only one of the factors that plays into the mall demise. As a child, I went with my family to shop and dine inside and as a teen worked at Friendly’s Restaurant (1986-1990). In the early 90′s Tower City started thriving as a mall and RPM was getting competition from the Euclid Avenue strip. The concept of strip centers shopping is the lastest trend in the retail industry. As Greater Cleveland struggles with the decline in popluation and developers continuing to build new homes and retail without addresses the current economic state of the area Cleveland will continue to look like a ghost town.

    The building in the picture is Days Inn (formerly, Holiday Inn) it has been abandoned now for about 15 years. Southgate is not thriving like it use to either. Within that shopping center there use to be a movie theater, women retail stores like, Lerners,Winkleman, Petries and Value City Furniture. The only real draw for Southgate is Giant Eagle and Home Depot (use to be the home of DIY). Randall Park Mall and Southgate have newer strip center with a 5 mile radius to contend with. Sears is one of the last original anchor tenants and probably will close its doors when its lease expires or the sales drop to the point they are taking a loss.

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  70. Story in today’s Plain Dealer…

    http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2008/05/magic_is_gone_in_north_randall.html

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  71. I went to the Macy’s going out of business sale in March. What a sad state. I worked at another Ohio mall when Randall Park opened, and everyone knew about it – it was the biggest in the state at the time. I was really impressed the one time I visited it (I live about 80 miles west of Cleveland). Not much left, and yes, the parking lot is atrocious!

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  72. The mall is slated to close in early June. Get a visit in before it’s too late. Maybe there’ll be a salvage/demo sale afterwards.

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  73. i heard the mall was closeing soon. is that true?

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  74. Hmmm, I hope its not closing. I need to get back for more photos but if this is true that leaves little time. I didn’t get enough photos last time (I didn’t want to get spotted by security, at least not after an account I read on the internet where they were shooing away photographers from inside the mall).

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  75. I’ve been looking around on Switchboard.com, and trying to call stores in the mall to confirm its really closing. Trouble is, most of the stores seem to be gone already! I was able to speak to a lady at Burlington Coat Factory, who said its closing June 9, and another lady at Sears who just said “soon”. The anchors are staying open, they said.

    Did the mall ever have a web site? If they did, it seems to be gone. ALSO, there’s no listing for “Randall Park Mall” on Switchboard.com. It seems to be dying without even a whimper.

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  76. I just learned about the closing of the mall in the next couple of weeks. I too like so many grew up and still reside in the area. I have wonderful memories of this mall. To say that the population that frequented the mall was the cause of it’s failure, is truly biased. I believe there were many factors to its demise. I only wish that the people who rescued the once failing Richmond Mall, would have done the same for Randall Park. There was so much potential and need. Richmond Mall is a ways from me and I don’t particularly care for Legacy or Beachwood Place. The newly open Walmart in Bedford Hts., is just that, Walmart, not a mall. The management at Randall Park should not have allowed so many of the “urban” stores to take residence, which only attracted the younger set. When I look at the buildings, it really breaks your heart. I believe the community of Randall Park, Warrensville Hts, and others should have really rallied together to save the mall. It’s an absolute shame what has happened.

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  77. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Randall Park Mall will close around Mid-June. The few remaining stores will have to relocate by June 12. Burlington Coat Factory, Sears, the movie theater and Ohio Technical College will stay open, however.The owners haved talked with some people that may be interested in buying the rest of the property, either to convert it into a mixed use center or demolish the whole property, turning it into an industrial park.

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  78. the hobby center (by jcpennys). toyco. roy rogers. the two level randall cienmas. york steak house. hot sams. hot dog-on-a-stick. fun n games(two of them one up, one down; downstairs was bigger) jeans west. the freeway-like walkway ramps w/the red carpet. i will always remember how much fun it was to go Randall Park Mall, from the time i saw stars wars there in 1977 when i was ten to the last tme i was there and it was still somewhat vibrant(my wedding day in 1995; i had to pick up something that morning at dillards). in between those years there was a lot of window shopping, ACTUAL shopping, and girl watching! never just “hung out” there or caused trouble like some in my age group in the mid 80s. the last time i was there was in 2005. after walking thru what was left of the mall i went to the bathroom.(you know the ones that were isolated and dimly lit; i swear a mugger or rapist must have suggested their location when the mall was designed!). anyway, as i exited the bathroom, i saw in faded letters on the back of a door: FAFLIK SHOES. very sad. anyway i will take one last walk thru the mall before it closes. RANDALL PARK MALL. 1976-2008 R.I.P

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  79. The mall’s location haunted it from the beginning. The very small town of North Randall initially had a police force more interested in catching speeders than car theives, so GTA became a serious problem at the mall. Perhaps more to the point, during the late 70s the burbs to the north and west were largely black, those to the immediate south and east were predominantly white and militant about staying that way. RPM was right on the fault line. White shoppers weren’t amused by aimless packs of black kids, showed it, and the kids responded with adorable tactics like aisle blockiing, spitting over railings, and plain ordinary thug-staring.

    The fights between gangs later on made matters worse. Finally, an off duty cop working security apprehended a crackhead shoplifter who fought him. The cop threw him, the crackhead hit his head and later died. (btw, both cop and perp were black). The crackhead had an influential family, the cop ended up going to prison, and I think the mall and store got sued as well. So much for assertive security…..

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  80. i went to school w/ that cop his name was jameel talley. its too bad the would be theif died. however maybe if the mall had tougher security earlier, it may not have scared away customers.

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  81. I would like to go say “goodbye” to RPM before it closes in a few weeks. I’m wondering from all of you who have been there lately – is it safe? I haven’t been in there in over 10 years and the last time I was there I did not feel welcome – being a young, white female. I got a few comments from people as I walked through and haven’t been back since. I remember going there with my Mom in the late 70s and walking around – the “plastic” couches and the stained glass lights along with the purple “marble” floor tiles fascinated me as a child. Anyhow, I wonder if the mall is basically abandoned and no one is around if a female going in there alone is such a good idea. Any thoughts on the subject from recent visitors who have been there would be appreciated. I would love to see it one more time. Thanks to those who have posted pics…it was nice to see it inside again, even if it’s empty and not how I remember it..

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  82. I don’t think safety is a huge issue; the mall has uniformed security personnel that keep a highly visible profile in the mall. That is, I’m assuming they haven’t been laid off! I’m more worried about trying to get pictures and getting hassled by security, although I suppose if the mall is within a couple weeks of closing for good they might not care anymore.

    Anyone know for sure what stores are still open at this time?

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  83. acb1976 – go for it. The perception of crime in this mall and other malls like it is way overstated. I saw plenty of single females here, white, black, purple, brown, etc. and they were fine (ok maybe not purple, but you get the idea..). Keep your wits about you there as you would anywhere and you’ll be fine, ie. don’t walk into a dark, unlit area of the parking lot at night, don’t dress lavishly or try to attract unnecessary attention.

    I do find one thing you wrote to be particularly interesting though, that you received “comments” from people passing through. What do they say? Is it racially derisive or cat calling? I almost never get comments, even in malls where I clearly stand out – I’m a young white male. In fact, the only comments I’ve ever gotten was at a mall near Detroit where a group of black teenage girls were coming out of the mall as I was going in and one of them went “What are YOU doing here?” and sneered at us. So it would be interesting to note if females have a different experience than I’ve had. I definitely get stares, but no comments to my face.

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  84. Prange….

    My husband said that he will go with me and we can leave our son with a sitter. We will probably try to go in during the afternoon sometime.

    As for the comments – I had two separate incidents which made me feel like I should not come back in. Two younger women (possibly teens or early 20s) and not of my race called me a “cracker bitch” as I walked past – not to my face necessarily but loud enough for me to hear. (I knew it was me they were talking about because no other white women were anywhere near me at the time I heard the comment). The other “incident” I guess you could call it was a situation where I was followed, then approached by a man in his 30s – also not of my race. He tried pretty hard to get me to leave the mall with him and I had to find a security person to help me out of the situation. So, between those 2 incidents, I didn’t feel like I should go back.

    This was probably 95 or 96…at the time the mall was much more populated, storefronts were pretty populated, etc. I do not remember there being a lot of vacancy. Looking at these pictures, it appears that huge sections of the mall are totally empty – even a year ago. And who knows now. So I’m guessing it was a lot different back then. It seems like just nobody is in there at all now.

    Anyhow, I feel like I want to go see it again, just to see the mall itself. I have a lot of memories from childhood there.

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  85. Charles, I tried clicking on your link to your flickr page, and it didn’t work. Can you repost the link to your flickr page, as I’d be interested in seeing your pics from your trip to northern Ohio dead malls, if you’ve ever gotten around to posting them.

    To MT, thanks for posting the links to pics of the 3 screen theater(was it ran by General Cinema?) that used to operate in this mall, plus the video about a Corvette show that was held here in ’85. Those both were interesting artifacts about how the mall once was.

    Hopefully, the site of the mall will be turned into something useful, and not totally wasteful, if the future owners do decide to demolish the mall after its upcoming closing.

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  86. Allen, here is the link again. I only have four pics from Randall Park but the rest of it is Euclid Square, Southwyck and Rolling Acres. I also have about 25 pics from Randhurst here in IL but haven’t uploaded them yet.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8474804@N05/sets/72157603655151348/

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  87. OK, thanks for reposting that here. Just looked through all pics of that set, it was very great and interesting to look through! Can’t believe either that Euclid Square Mall looks so much like a dead mall museum, and as if it was in mint shape from(theoretically) all stores closing yesterday. *sigh*

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  88. I live in Cleveland and first went to RPM back around 77 and 78. I know exactly what killed the Mall. High crime incidents from blacks and alot of racism from racist blacks toward whites in the Mall making them feel unwelcome. I stayed away after two black gangs started a riot in the Mall. Never went back. Alot of white people stopped going to this Mall. I know many people reading this arent going to like hearing this but it’s the truth.

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  89. Dudes: I went there last Sunday (6/1). By my count, there are about 12

    stores open plus the anchors and theatre. Some of the final dozen:

    -a nail salon
    -a jewelry stores
    -a kiosk selling rims
    -a kiosk selling various gold items (might have been an outgrowth of the

    rim stand; I only saw signs and they looked closed for the day)
    -an electronics store (5th Avenue Electronics, I think)
    -a Subway
    -a “Nubian Jungle” clothing store
    -a school uniform place
    -The mall walker’s headquarters
    -Finish Line
    -Best Buy (just kidding)

    The mall is so quiet and clean, it looks like it was just built and is

    awaiting tenants! Circle of life, I suppose. I stopped into the

    security office to get friendly with the guards, and I think it helped

    since they saw me taking pics later and didn’t say anything. Or maybe

    they don’t care anymore. When they learned I used to come to this mall

    and was back (from Chicago) to say goodbye, they almost seemed flattered!

    The only trace of neglect was fading carpet, and one trash can I walked

    by which either hadn’t been emptied recently, or was the target of an

    unsavory “deposit” by one of those adorable rapscallions that gave the

    mall its nickname, Vandall Park.

    I also saw the blue steps to the movie theater peeking through a door in

    the former Diamond’s display window (it’s extended from the original

    storefront to cover the front of the movie theater).

    The fountains, escalators, muzak, and HVAC were all off. Usually, in

    summer, you walk into a mall or store and it’s FREEZING! The Sears was

    only lukewarm- comfortable, in fact- but they probably turned down the AC

    knowing there’ll be little traffic. It was still jumping enough that

    Sears is probably breaking even. The escalators in that store, though

    running, looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and probably

    are the original units installed in 1976!

    A huge window inside the mall overlooks the lobby of the newer movie

    theater (O Theater, formerly Magic Johnson). It looks amazing, and it’s

    sad that the theater is also struggling. I think I heard that their

    management is almost glad the mall is closing, since so many people cut

    through the theater to get to the mall. And the ushers get excited that

    someone is coming to see a movie, but it turns out they were just passing

    by. THAT is really sad, and sure enough the doors to the theater on the

    first floor of the mall are always locked.

    While walking, I saw one white couple, and walked up to them and said

    “lemme guess- you came here when you were little and have returned to

    take one last look around.” Not only was I right, but the woman had gone

    to high school with me! I just didn’t recognize her. We chatted for a

    bit and they left.

    I should point out that my family only came to the mall for about 16

    months. My parents moved to Ohio from Maryland in 1979, and took a small

    apartment in Bedford (since it was near my Father’s office) while our

    house was being constructed in the ‘burbs. Little did they know what

    kind of area it was, and we moved to the house 2 months early (the family

    room wasn’t even done yet!) just to get out of there. There’s a couple

    pictures of me running around on the ramps at Randall Park. And by the

    way, while we lived in Bedford, sure enough, our car was stolen!

    Speaking of cars, I drove around the entire mall and the parking lot is

    pretty bad. But I live in Chicago now, and most of our roads and parking

    lots are in equally bad shape, even in the ‘burbs. So it didn’t faze me

    much.

    Back inside the mall, there was one shop open in the food court- a

    Subway. I’m sure many of you have seen the “$5 Footlong” commercials.

    The RPM Subway has ‘em for $3.99! That’ll bring in the customers!

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  90. Allen M,
    Yes it was a general cinema. Diamonds men store remodelled at some point but the entrance and the theaters are still there hidden behind the walls.

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  91. Looks like there is a buyer and RPM is staying open, at least for now.

    http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2008/06/buyer_emerges_for_randall_park.html

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  92. what a shame. that mall was huge. it couldn’t be in a worse area though. I remember going to the Friendly’s restaurant back when I was a kid….I vaguely remember that being near one of the department stores…

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  93. I can initially tell you that I ‘think’ the vacant building used to be a Holiday Inn Hotel.
    I remember how awesome that mall was as a child. According to my Grandmother, she bought what would become my childhood Teddy Bear at a toy store in there called Circus World. I got it when i was 1 in 1979.
    I remember the big wall down one of the aisles, according to my Mom was suppoesed to be where Halle’s was to go.
    There was also a really cool hobby shop that looked like an old Passenger Train Car. here was also an unsual bok store called Cole’s
    When my sister was born in the mid 80′s, I used to let her stroller coast down those infamous ramps. LOL, wasn’t I a nice brother?
    I remember Horne’s was 3 floors. We always parked
    at Higbees second level.
    I would love to see this new buyer do something cool with the place, lots of childhood memories

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  94. i had dream today that the mall came back. lets hope it comes true.

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  95. Has anyone been inside since last week when it was supposed to close but then didn’t? Is anyone left now? Or did all the tenants leave?

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  96. I went to Randall Park Mall on Sunday, and it’s on life support. Sears and Burlington Coat Factory/LaSalle Furniture are the only anchors still operating, as well as maybe a handful of stores at most. Furthermore, all of those stores are congregated in the Sears wing. There’s absolutely nothing in the expansive northern half of the mall, except for a church and the theatres. The mall was also really dark, and all the escalators had been shut off so you have to either take the stairs or the labyrinth of walkways connecting the upper and lower levels. I overheard a conversation some of the cashiers at Sears were having with a customer as I was leaving, and they reiterated what some of the commenters here have said. They said the mall had originally planned to close on June 12, but someone bought it (the church group, I assume) and is keeping it open for now. So, that’s great news for anyone who wants to stop by and see a real live, er…dead mall museum.

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  97. I am planning a trip with my family to come to NE Ohio to visit Randall Park Mall as well as other dead malls in the area. Is RPM safe to walk? I will have my wife and my 5 yr old son with me. What can we expect when we get there? Is the mall just empty or is it empty+falling apart? Thanks for any help and info you can provide.

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  98. Todd, don’t even waste your time. It’s not safe and not worth it. I walked around on a Sunday morning and still didn’t feel safe. It’s a creepy and very sad place….nothing is open. If you have old memories of RPM during its hay-day in the 70-80′s then I suggest you stay away…..very depressing.

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  99. So will Randall Park beat out the Mall of Memphis as the largest mall to fail?

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  100. I was there on June 1, when we thought the mall was closing. Brought along the little bracelet my husband bought me there (the first thing he ever bought me while we were dating).

    I don’t know when other people go there, but I have never encountered any problems or threats, etc, from anyone there. Yeah, I’m usually in the minority, but I have NEVER not felt save.

    And I don’t know how someone made friends with security. They’re always harsh, and they caught us taking pictures and grumbled at us. We just moved to the other end of the mall and continued.

    My friend that I was with noticed that one of the letters burned out on the Sears logo, and it just now reads “Sars”. How fitting…….

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  101. When you say that you didn’t feel safe, was it that the people in the mall are pretty much low-life material or is it in that bad of repair? Forgive me for sounding naive. It’s just that I don’t know much about NE Ohio in general. If the demographics in the area of RPM are that terrible, it is surely a horrible shame then to have such a huge shopping establishment go to waste like that. Any info. will be deeply appreciated! Thanks.

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  102. Todd:

    If you really want to go, then go. The place has NEVER been remodeled (save from changing carpet – it used to be red and now it’s blue). The ceiling tiles are patterened, it has skylights around support columns – the architecture is great, and a lot of the service corridors were open, we found. Just watch out for security – they’re harsh.

    I always follow a few simple rules when dead malling in unfamiliar territory:

    1) Don’t go alone – there’s safety in numbers
    2) Park near an entrance – easy in and out is best
    3) Go during the day – less blatant crime in daylight
    4) Avoid exploring service corridors, etc, alone – again, safety in numbers
    5) Don’t dress flashy or wear a lot of jewelry – don’t want unneeded attention
    6) Avoid flashing an expensive camera or camcorder – again, unneeded attention from security or otherwise – keep the camera hidden when not in use
    7) Don’t look nervous – smile at people, say hello, etc. I ususally try to buy at least one thing from every dead mall I visit, if possible so I look like I’m there to shop
    8) And most imporant – use common sense

    I don’t think NE Ohio is that bad. Parts have actually improved. The city of Cleveland is rebounding, but some of the burbs are going downhill. Like I said, just keep your head on and follow some simple guidelines ,and you should be fine. I’ve NEVER had an issue with not feeling safe at any NE Ohio dead malls. I didn’t see any “thugs” or anything. I’ve only seen people and families shopping. Granted, very few were caucasian (there was a mix of other races), but I’ve never had anyone shout insults at me or threaten me, etc.

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  103. As for my above post:

    ***DISCLAIMER: Opinions are my own. Your opinions and experience may vary. No guarantees written or expressed. Prices and participation may vary; void where prohibited by law.

    There. Now I feel better.

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  104. I would add to that list…

    9) If security tells you to leave, then leave. Don’t try to argue.
    10) Don’t explore vacant parking garages. Them places are creepy.
    11) Try to avoid focusing on people or storefronts.
    12) These rules also work in well-off malls.

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  105. Thank you for all the information. I will most surely take your advise because i am kinda of new to this. Well, honestly, I did have quite the experience when I was younger. The only dead mall I every explored was back in the late 90′s, we had a mall about 20 miles from where I lived at the time and it was the place to be in the 70′s and early 80′s but went downhill after that due to a nice double decker they built about 8 miles from it. A couple friends of mine and i went there to watch a movie before the theatre eventually closed up and afterward, we decided to walk the dead mall that was roped off. We went past the stop sign and looked at all of the closed and abandoned places that I knew as a child. Suddenly, a guard walked right up to us from around a corner in the dimly lit place and asked us if we knew how to (explicative) read. I said yes we do and he said then turn around and get the hell out of here before I lose my job and you lose something too. I got a bit agitated at his aggressive attitude and told him that if he kept acting like an ass, I would make sure he lost his job and then we could meet up in the parking lot right there afterwards. He threated then to call the police and have us removed and arrested for trespassing so we just gave it up and said we are out of here. Never went back. They demolished it in about 2004 or so. Security can be rough no doubt about it.

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  106. “I ususally try to buy at least one thing from every dead mall I visit, if possible so I look like I’m there to shop”

    I might have to try that; I can keep my camera in a Sears bag. I’d like to go back to RPM and get more pics (only took four last time) but I’m not too keen on encountering the security.

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  107. @ Charles:

    Yep – having shopping bags helps keep security, etc, off your radar. They’re less likely to hassle you if you’re there to buy stuff. Last year when we went to RPM we bought some shirts at the Footaction which was closing, and something at Burlington Coat Factory.

    My camera crapped out there last year, but my friend that went with me got lots of good shots. Between the two of us this year, we got about 200 shots. We got about that many out at Rolling Acres too, but the security there didn’t care about us walking around and taking pictures. They were great. Unlike the rude younger woman at RPM who was yelling at us while talking on her cell phone…….

    I need to figure out how to get in touch without my posting my e-mail here (found out once that was a bad idea). I have info to pass on……

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  108. How about some of you that have all these photos upload them to picasa or flickr or something! I wont get to go back to RPM before it closes and would love to see more.

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  109. I have decided to bring my father in law when we come to visit RPM. He is going to walk the mall with me while my wife does something else with my 5 year old. By the sound of it, this is the smartest move with security interests in mind. Would it be safe for my wife and my son to watch a movie in the theatre while my father in law and I walk the mall and hopefully take some pictures?

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  110. Todd, if you really love dead malls, come visit Milwaukee and I’ll give you the full tour of Grand Ave. I know where each and every tenant was, when the came in, when they left, every minor renovation, and any other insignificant thing you could imagine. Then you could take your wife outside the mall, where we have a booming strip of five star quality restaurants and have a great meal. Milwaukee is a great place, with so much activity and so much to do. That is why it fascinates me that this four block span in the dead center of everything is just that: DEAD. It just doesn’t make sense to anyone.

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  111. @SlnComet:

    I’m not huge on posting my photos and then advertising for the public to come and look at them.

    Both myself and my friends have had our photos stolen many times, and put into Youtube videos and Wikipedia and passed off as belonging to other people.

    One person had the “you-know-what’s” to actually crop off the watermark that a friend put on their photos.

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  112. The creepy-looking abandoned (since 1991-1992) Holiday Inn/Days Inn has a sign near its Northfield Road fence showing plans to renovate the building into medical office. I was there with my daughters a month ago. The corner of Northfield and Emery (near RPM) is the sight of “Bargain Town” (as my 6 year old calls it). There is a Dollar General, a 24 hour Save-A-Lot, Unique Thrift Store (1/2 off on Mondays and crazy packed with all types of people), Big Lots, and Aldi. Retail in the area surrounding the mall is a mixed bag.

    There are a few chains (Toys R Us and Circuit City jumped ship for the strip mall cum power center TEN MILES to the northeast in Mayfield Heights). At Northfield and Miles there is an HHGregg and a giant Asian grocery store where they sell LIVE (still in the tank) tilapia (can’t get fresher than that!). The rest of the stores are local-owned, “urban” oriented.

    Sears and Burlington have banners up proclaiming that they are still open and we are all asking “For how long?”. A church group bought the mall claiming they do not have plans to shutter it. While I am not a mall developer, I have created an interesting plan to make the center mixed-use and worth saving.

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  113. Todd – I would not leave your wife and 5 year old in the movie theatre at RPM. If you don’t want to take them into the mall then the theatre is no better of an idea. Honestly, I would drop them off at a park in Beachwood or at Beachwood Place, and come back for them later. It’s not too far away and it is much more populated.

    I went in 2 weeks ago with my husband just to look around again, and we left our 2 year old at my parents’ house. When I got there, it was VERY deserted and I would not have felt comfortable being there with a child. But that is just me.

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  114. I was at RPM today with my wife and my son. I actually did not go into the mall with my family. Just by the outward appearance, i didn’t feel that it would be 100% safe for us to take my 5 yr old son in. i would have loved to go inside and see the mall but for my son, i wanted his safety to come first. The Days Inn was totally creepy looking and I got some good photos of it. The appearance of the outside mall was also creepy. The fencing around the old JC Penny lot was very weird. We got some good photos of the exterior. The pavement around the mall is in terrible shape. How many stores are still open inside the mall? Judging by what we saw on the outside, there can’t be but a few if that. i would like to come back sometime this year and go inside before it closes down.

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  115. I remember when the mall opened when I was in high school. It was a big deal to go there since the mall was so huge and new. I recall shopping at the County Seat for Levi’s and at Foxmore (sp?) Casuals.

    I worked at the Cole’s book store there during the summer after my freshman year in college (1979). I remember taking the bus down Green Road from my home in South Euclid. A long trip, but it only cost 25 cents, a bargain even then because Cleveland was trying to get more people on public transit because of the 1970s gas crisis.

    I haven’t lived in Cleveland since the early 80s. I now live only 4 blocks from a semi-down-at-the-heels mall outside of D.C. (Westfield Wheaton), which is how I stumbled on this site to begin with.

    In addition to Randall Park, I miss all the dead/dying malls of my childhood like Euclid Square and Severance.

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  116. The medical building renovation plan for the Holiday Inn did not go through. Who knows how long the real estate signs will remain. I remember the commercial real estate sign that stood there in the late 90s and early 2000s offering a “300-room convention hotel” for sale as if people looking to buy such a property just happen upon them while driving around North Randall. The place has really deteriorated since 2001′s liquidation sale after which the windows were left open on the upper floors (see previous post). Prior to that, everything was intact, and one could have pictured a low-rent operator giving the hotel a run, but as Daze In found out, running such a large hotel is nothing for an amateur. Just rambling now, but I wonder if that is the largest suburban hotel in Cuyahoga… It’s certainly the tallest hotel in this part of the state, save for a few downtown Cleveland properties, and the view from the suite floors at the top must have been quite something. DeBartolo himself maintained a suite there for years.

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  117. This is a bit random, but browsing through all of these area dead malls, I remembered another…I guess it isn’t a dead mall per se, but actually an aborted mall. Anyone remember the proposed mall in Kent? I believe it was to be called University Park or University Town Center or something to that effect. I know it was supposedly going in at 43 and 261, and that despite a lot of fuss over the Kent “Bog,” it was moving forward. This was back in the late 80s or early 90s…I graduated from Kent State and then moved to Kent, where I have lived ever since…no mall. I don’t think it takes 20 years to break ground. Anyone know what happened? Did the Bog people finally prevail, or was it an economic decision, or did it have to do with DeBartolo dying? Just curious.

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  118. KB, you are on the money. I think movie theatres in general are suffering a decline, not just the ones located near dead and dying malls.

    As far as Chapel Hill, you’re right again. It was never a major regional destination, but, as I grew up in Munroe Falls, it was a convenient quick shopping run or weekend hangout. At its peak, which of course was in the affluent mall-crazy 80s, it had most of the “important” fashion stores such as The Limited and Express, along with the usual anchors. Now it’s filled with cheapie stores and non-chain shops. At that time, there was no reason to choose Summit Mall over Chapel. If you wanted to really experience mall nirvana, you went to RAM.

    My curiosity and nostalgia got the best of me today and I went over to RAM with my daughter. I was unprepared for the emotional jolt. Sears seemed pretty normal, though it did not appear that they were re-stocking the shelves as quickly as you’d expect. There were more patrons than I anticipated. We walked through the mall portion, and even though I knew what I was going to find, I almost couldn’t believe it. I had not been inside this mall since the early 90s, and so even though I had heard what had happened it was a shock. It was like walking through a ghost town version of my past. So very sad. Diamond’s Men’s Store was still there, on life support. Looks like they are liquidating though. Rounders and racks of markdowns spilled out into the empty concourse. The inside of the store was only about half-filled, and it appeared that everything had come off the walls and onto easily moveable racks. All of it was sale merchandise. Walking on, we came through the center atrium in the main entrance concourse. The fountain stood empty and dusty. The music was still on, which seemed very odd. We went down by the deserted Dillard’s and found something very strange: a full-service bridal shop that was very much open and did not look like it was soon to vacate. I have no idea how they stay in business. There were a couple of obviously very recently closed shops, non-chain stores of course. One still had some merchandise piled around. There was a cheap electronics store, one of those Pager City type joints, but it was closed, perhaps permanently. One storefront had been turned into some kind of cheerleading/gymnastics facility, but it was closed and it was impossible to tell if it is still in use. Down towards Macy’s was a store that had been converted into a health clinic (!!!) and there actually were patients there, a very young couple with a toddler. My daughter was fascinated with the food court atrium, with its blocked-off escalators. The clear glass elevator (which I though was soooo cool back in the day) drew her, and though I was sure it would not be inoperation, we pressed the button and it sprang to life. It was very eerie to be riding this elevator under these conditions. Walking around the former Picnic Place food court was no less depressing. Though the tables and chairs still wait, empty, all of the restaurants are gone except Eli’s. I was hoping to patronize him after reading Mary’s posts, but his place was closed (it did not look to be permanently closed.) We ended up going through the whole mall, with me trying to remember which storefront was which. I think I found the old Merry-Go-Round, where I got my coveted black Z. Cavaricci’s at a time when $69 for a pair of pants was outrageous, yet so cool. We ended up browsing around the JC Penney outlet for quite a while…that place is actually a gold mine. It was full of patrons, and if you were willing to take the time to pick through stuff, there were a lot of good bargains to be had. I am planning to drag my husband out there to look at the home furnishings. Saw some cute shoes too. We drove around the lot before we left, which was creepy too. Nothing quite so weird as an abandoned Target. The parking lot is in bad shape and full of weeds. Looks like no one has been there in a long time, even over by Macy’s which is odd because it didn’t close all that long ago. The most poignant moment for me was as we walked silently through the empty mall, and Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground” came on. No lie. It actually choked me up! Yeah, I’m a big nerd.

    By the way, KB, the Kent mall was no rumor. There are actually newspaper archives out there on it; DeBartolo got the go-ahead despite the envirohippies trying to stop it. It actually had leases and was set to open in 1992. I don’t think it was the Bog that stopped it…who knows?

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  119. Has anyone seen that Saturday Night Live sketch in which there’s a store in “the old mall” that sells Scotch tape, and they only stay in business by selling tape to the other stores to hang “out of business” signs? Fittingly, it’s from the late 70s when RPM was thriving. : ( How many stores are left now, anyone know?

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  120. Isn’t the whole thing closed now except the stores with outside access?

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  121. No way, Erika! There’s so much to do! Forgetting the anchors (Sears & Burlington), you could spend all day at RPM getting your nails done, buying gold rims and gold teeth (from the same shop, made on the same lathes), buying Cleveland Public Schools uniforms, shopping for a 220V toaster, seeing a bad action movie, eating at Subway ($4 footlongs!) or just “mall walking.” And let’s not forget the Bumbershoot’s, Uncle Bill’s, Fretter and Father & Sons stores inside. (ha ha) Seriously, though, when I went in June the inside was still open, and I’ve heard/read nothing to the contrary.

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  122. I have to say, I was there with my family in July and I didn’t see anywhere to buy gold rims or gold anything. The only food place open was Eli’s, no Subway or anything but Elis. The Diamonds Mens Store and Digital Palace was open and the theatre was open but is now closed. The place is desolate and hotter than the devil on its non-air conditioned inside. Many places are long gone and some just recently left. Al in all, the place was extremely quiet except for the music playing. The only real life is Penny’s Outlet and Sears. Other than that it is really eerie and I mean creepy. A huge empty and abandoned two story Macy’s and the Dillard’s store empty with a huge labelscar on top. Very creepy. The outside of the mall is even creepier. The abandoned Target was esepcially eerie.

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  123. Weird- they moved Rolling Acres to North Randall? Todd, I think you meant to post on the RAM board. : )

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  124. I won’t be going to RPM anytime soon. Even if I were so inclined, my husband has absolutely forbidden it (he knows of my penchant for dead malls, and after visiting RAM with me yesterday he really isn’t even keen on me going there anymore.) Seeing as I haven’t much use for gold rims on my minivan, I’ll pass. If I want me some teeth, I’ll get a platinum and diamond grille like my girl Kendra on The Girls Next Door rather than Flavr Flav gold! Ha kidding! The very idea of a rims and teeth kiosk in the mall is a priceless illustration of the reality here…you couldn’t make this stuff up, you know? Gotta say, the $4 Subway deal is attractive…love their Spicy Italian! But I think I will pay the extra buck and be at peace about my bodily safety.

    In another example of the out-with-the-old rip and replace mentality that many have lamented on these boards, the series of big box and strip plazas that have sprouted on Rt. 59 in Stow continue to grow. Meanwhile, the original Stow-Kent Plaza, which was the only thing there when I was a kid, was bustling until some of the major tenants went out of business at the corporate level (Petrie’s, Stambaugh’s, Revco…) Nobody rushed in to replace them because the plaza was terribly outdated and rents remained unrealistically high. The free-standing O’Neil’s evolved through May Co. and Kaufmann’s to become Macy’s, but though it remains I have never seen patronage so low. Aside from a Fitworks exercise center, the only remaining stores in the plaza are Big Lots and a check cashing joint. This is a dead plaza. Meanwhile, they built a new little front strip onto it facing the road, and it’s full and busy. Across the street, a new Chipotle, Great Clips, and Panera sit in front of the former K Mart, which has been turned into a Hobby Lobby (not yet open….Hobby Lobby…WTH? Why not a Best Buy?) Next to this is the huge plaza with Target (busy at all hours of the day and night,) Office Max, Kohl’s, Giant Eagle, Bed Bath and Beyond, Justice, Maurice’s, Border’s Jr. (or whatever they call those former Waldenbooks locations,) Bath & Body, and a few smaller shops. Totally. Pakced. At. All. Times. How can this other prime retail location be left to rot like that? Can you say tax writeoff? The other restaurants there are Applebee’s, Bellacino’s, Subway, El Campesino, On Tap/Hamburger Station, and Pizza Hut Italian Bistro as well as the usual fast food. Very odd. Plow down the old plaza and build a new indoor mall!!!!!!!!!

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  125. I visited Randall Park mall yesterday, August 31… Some observations: There are about a half-dozen stores open inside, besides Sears/Burlington/”O” Theatre. I say “about” a half-dozen, because its tough to tell which stores are really closed and which are just not open because they keep odd hours. Its possible there may be a few additional ones still active besides the 5-6 I counted. Of course, Randall Park is huge, and 5-6 stores is just a drop in the bucket compared to what they had even one year ago when I was there last.

    The place is eerily quiet inside with no music or background noise from the air conditioning. I could literally hear every one of my footsteps, and those of the other 3 or 4 shoppers I saw inside. Its obvious which stores were vacated during the “rush to leave” this past spring, since they are all still fully signed (even the Macy’s store still has its signs up inside and out, and they closed in March!).

    I am floored that this place is still open inside. Surely the church group or whoever bought it will realize they are spending big bucks this winter to keep the place from freezing inside, and they’ll second-guess their decision to keep it open. I’ve been to plenty of malls in their dying days, and I’d equate this one with Rolling Acres (in its current level of activity) or with the final months of Machesney Park Mall, minus the mall-walkers that Machesney had until the end. All I saw at RPM were a few people going to the nail salon and a couple kids running up and down the walkways (Sears was busy however).

    I took a few new pics; they’re at the bottom of my album on Flickr:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8474804@N05/sets/72157603655151348/

    The first four (in the middle of the page somewhere) are from last summer; these 8 new ones are from yesterday. By the way, I had NO problem with security. The security office in the mall was locked up and dark. Outside, I saw one guy in a Jeep Liberty SUV, parked in a shady spot in the parking lot just keeping an eye on the place. Heck he may have been sleeping. Anyway, I was worried about getting more pictures, but as it turned out, there was no problem. I could have hauled my DSLR and tripod in there and no one would have cared! So if anyone wants more pics, now may be the time to get them since security seems to have been trimmed to the bone.

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  126. Thanks for the great update, Charles! I’m shocked there’s as much activity there as you saw. I didn’t realize there was still an open Sears there.

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  127. I had a cousin who worked at JC Penney when Randall Park opened. The mall was a wonderful mall until Cleveland stopped growing, and its distance from the city and proximity to nasty suburbs killed it.

    Charles:
    Looks totally abandoned. Reminds me of Columbus City Center as it looks right now. But, man, even City Center has more stores and people do pass through it thanks to its large cheap parking garage. Even the lights are almost all out!

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  128. I will be returning to the area sometime in Oct. and would love to walk through RPM. The last time I was in the area, my 5 yr old son was with me and my wife and the vibe I got from the immediate area surrounding the mall was a disturbing one and I decided not to go inside with him. Does anyone think that it would be safe to walk the mall with my wife and son or was my decision pretty much spot on? I did get to check out the abandoned hotel. Gee what a sight!

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  129. I would not go in there if I were you. Or at least, don’t take your family. I think you would probably be fine going into RAM. Try to hook up with Mary and Eli when you do. Follow your instincts.

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  130. Todd,

    Spot on. I went on a Sunday late morning and felt unsafe.

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  131. I went on a Saturday afternoon and felt fine… maybe you need to avoid those fiery “Church In the Mall” crowds. : )

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  132. Let me say it this way. I am planning on coming with my wife and my 5 yr. old son to walk the RPM. Is it feasible or is it just plainly a dumb idea. We plan to park at Sears or Burlington’s so that we will enter and exit through more of an inhabited area and it will be during the day, certainly not after dark.

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  133. It doesn’t look any worse than some British shopping malls like the Arndale in Manchester or Bradford.

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  134. Todd- I assume you’re white, so I think you, a grown man, would be safe. There’s no one left in the mall to hassle people. I would not recommend bringing the family since 1) your wife may feel uneasy since it’s so desolate, 2) your son seemed to hinder your visit to RAM a while back, 3) a white family will look VERY out of place there. Just one guy (you) can be pretty much under the radar. Park at Sears!

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  135. I wish I hadn’t gone back to RPM for that “one last look” not just because I didn’t feel safe…….the fact is, it was really depressing to see this huge mall (one that was once filled with stores and a ton of people) completely empty during a mid-way weekend. If you have fond memories of RPM I wouldn’t go….it will only bum you out.

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  136. I was just on here yesterday, 10/15/08, and then I went to watch NBC evening news, well they were discussing weaker holiday sales and they used a Randall Park Mall picture with the mall directory to show the different retailers who had filed bankruptcy this year. That was crazy.
    Sad to see RPM this way-and other malls of this vintage all across the country-going away like this. Eventually they will be torn down and in the future we will all wonder where the malls went.
    I dispise outdoor lifestyle centers and I boycott them.

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  137. Thank you for the advice. I was thinking that myself and possibly my father in law would be okay there but was really questioning my wife and son. Is this mall extremely quiet and absent of most all people like Rolling Acres Mall was when I went there earlier this year? It was so quiet and desolate, it almost drove me nuts. I kept looking over my shoulder as we walked through the empty corridors. Also, is the threatre at Randall Park still open?

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  138. So from reading some of your comments, I guess it is safe to assume that Randall Park Mall is the victim of white flight?
    Sounds a little like Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL. I don’t understand though, don’t the African Americans and Mexicans shop? Forgive me if this sounds racist, I do not intend it to be, just wondering is all.

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  139. Thanks o9pki. Wow so you have seen Dixie Square a lot then I assume. I am obsessed with that mall and I wish it could be repaired and reopened as an outlet center. A mall with that much history is worth saving.
    Luckily Randall Park Mall seems to have been purchased by a church so it won’t decay like Dixie-but it won’t be a mall again.
    We consumers are so finiky, what is hot one day is not the next.
    I used to go with my parents to Cinderella City Mall in Englewood, CO when I was young; it was THE mall and starting in the 80′s it was a shadow of its former self. Now it is gone and a Wal-Mart sits in its place. Ah, progress…..

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  140. everyone say the blacks have ruined this mall but i do not like talk like that. problem is location- too many sotres near thsi mall and no stores also inside this mall. i went to J.C. Penny’s Company and there was no one inside. No one in Macys. No one in Diamonds. No movie cinema. too many old stores. i saw no stairs only ramps but i eat at subway for $4.23 with nuts. parking lot is very cold and no one greets me

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  141. Is the threate in RPM still open?

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  142. Vladic,

    There is a reason there are no stores IN the mall……..and location is only part of the problem……

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  143. The O Theatre is open as far as I have heard… the original General Cinema was shuttered in 1993, however, but you can still see it through an open door in the Diamond’s display window.

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  144. Vladic, you may not “like that talk”, but your assessment of what’s a problem for RPM couldn’t be more incorrect. Location? What the hell are you talking about? Location IS key. That mall is easily accessible. “Too many stores”? Yeah…because that’s a problem for EVERY mall around. I know when I walk into a mall, I am disgusted that there are so many stores and I might be able to get ALL of my shopping done in one location. (sarcasm off)

    You may not like the “talk” about the demographics, but people like you need to face reality and facts. Why is it when facts are presented, people like you dismiss them? That doesn’t do much for you.

    What really killed the mall is the same that killed Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.

    IMAGE! Image is everything. RPM had the image — for about 20 years now — that the mall was unsafe. Mainly because of the shooting that occurred in the late 80′s that resulted in the mall closing one afternoon on a Saturday (IIRC) and the shoe store owner (I think he was an owner) who was found murdered. Then there was another issue with unruly teens that made the news. It’s that kind of behavior that creates an image that mall owners do NOT want. There was never an attempt (that I noticed) to change that image with the general public. And YES — the changing demographics had everything to do with that image. It had nothing to do with blacks — it had to do with the criminal/mischievous element of that demographic.

    Once a mall has an image of being unsafe, you will see people going elsewhere and then national retailers will wind up pulling out in droves. You might not like the “talk”, but you need to deal with reality. I used to LOVE going to RAM. I remember that mall BEFORE it opened when you used to be able to look out from Penneys (it was opened months before RAM itself opened). It’s sad to see the mall in the shape it’s in. I also remember the General Cinema lay out (I gotta get there and try to take a look again to see the funky set up behind walls).

    And I will had to the confirmation that the hotel was originally a Holiday Inn. I used to go there when I was a kid on Sundays for the Sunday Buffet. So, people need to stop saying “I think it was a Days Inn at first.” IT WAS NOT!! Holiday Inn first, then the brand was yanked and it became a Days Inn until it was closed. Right now, it is my understanding the City of North Randall can not find the paperwork for the property and have no idea who owns it. Perhaps that has changed over the past few months.

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  145. I’m guessing that the only real business left at RPM is the Sears and the Burlington Coat Factory and the theatre. Does the Sears and the Burlington Coat Factory both still have open access to the mall? Do the series of ramps and such still exist and are the still accessible. How about the escallators?

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  146. I’m very curious because I would love to see one of the biggest malls ever built in this country and see how desolate and in disrepair it is now. I’m guessing that the mall is still fully open and 100% accessible.

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  147. Todd, yes everything is still accessable; Sears and Burlington Coat Factory have full access to the mall. The escalators are turned off and barricaded and have been for quite some time now. The regular mall entrances at the food court and theatre are open too.

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  148. I’m guessing that there is nothing open in the food court.

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  149. When I went in June, Subway was open…. also, the mall does not really have any disrepair inside. It looks great!

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  150. Wow, I’ve got to see this mall then. How many businesses are open in it besides the obvious Sears and Burlington?

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  151. Check my post from June for more specifics, but I’d estimate 10-12 (including kiosks, Subway and the Mall Walker’s headquarters).

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  152. That’s very interesting and kind of sad to see the pictures of the mall as it is now. I have lots of memories of going to this mall as a kid as that’s where my parents usually went to do their shopping. I remember seeing “Pete’s Dragon” at the General Cinema theatre here (probably in the early 1980′s). I would buy 45 RPM records from the record store which was toward one end of the mall on the upper side and used to go to the Radio Shack store. I always liked to get Hot Sam pretzels and lemonade and can remember the smell of the Karmelkorn shop which I think was on both levels.
    There was a Chick-Fil-A there at one time which we would go to but it seems like it closed in the early 80′s.

    We would usually get clothes from the Sears store and I remember a very old black and white TV at the entrance on the upper level which would show you on a closed circuit camera. I guess the last time I ever went to the mall was when Burlington Coat Factory had gone in probably in the early 90′s. I remember all the carpets on the ramps were still red.

    Also when I smell cigarette smoke it reminds me of this mall…in those days (80′s) smoking was allowed in the mall and it seemed like the smell of it was everywhere.

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  153. I have lived, & worked in Randall My entire life. I can answer all questions as to why the mall & hotel have failed. The Mall, along with Thistledown, & the old abandoned hotel were at one time owned and operated by the Edward J. Debartolo Corp out of Youngstown Ohio. Randall Park Mall, & the old abandoned hotel wich was originally opened as a Holiday Inn, were both built by & opened by Edward J. Debartolo in 1976. Thistledown was built long before that. There is a lot of history behind the short lived mall & hotel. Both had about a good 20 year run before thier demise. Debartolo also purchased the San Francisco 49ers, for His Son Edward Jr. When the 49ers used to play the Cleveland Browns, They used to stay in the top floors of the hotel. For those who remember, Chuck Wepner (The Boxer) stayed thier before getting beaten by Mohamed Ali. The hotel had an executive suite wich over looked the Mall, & Thistledown, so that Edward Debartolo, when in town could over look His properties. Thistledown was equipped with a landing strip so that when Edward Debartolo Sr. would come to town, wich was at least once, sometimes twice a day, He would fly in his personal plane from Youngstown. Edward J. Debartolo Sr. was a very smart business man, as soon as He began to see the mall, & the hotel dwindiling, He wasted no time in selling them. Most of the reasons for the collapse of the mall & hotel, was the increase in crime. One the reasons in the crime increase started when the RTA began a bus route to the mall. The RTA would transfer the inter city people, most of them Juveniles to the mall several times a day. Not all of them being up to no good, but unfortunatly most of them. More so on the weekends. With the bus loads of kids came fights, drugs, purse snatchings etc. It simply became to much for the private security company to handle. Another reason was due to the fact of new owners taking over the mall, & making substantual budget cuts in the security of the mall. Crime got worse, as security got much thinner. Randall Park Mall played host to many celebrities over the years, from Actress Dina Merrill on its grand opening, to impressionist Rich Little, to Richard Simmons, to Joe Charbenough, along with many other national & locals Celebrities. The North East Corvette Club held its annual Corvette show at Randall Park Mall. As in every walks of life, what goes up must come down, much like Our current economy. Randall Park Mall hit its stride in the mid 80′S to early 90′S, and unfornutatly came tumbling down. The state of Ohio’s Government unfortunatly has not, & continues to not do anything to make Ohio a Tourist attraction. With the failing of the area’s mall’s, & Icons such as Randall Park Mall Thistledown, & Northfield Park, Euclid Beach, Geauga Lake, Sea World ETC. One could only hope that from Senator Voinovich, to Dennis Kucinich, to Ted Strickland that someday soon They will do something about it, instead of stealing from the Tax Payers.

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  154. Good points all, Anthony, welcome. By the way, someone on Youtube posted a news story from ’85 on the Corvette club at Randall Park.

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  155. HAHA! The vision of Richard Simmons inside that mall sweating to the oldies is hilarious!!!

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  156. As to the supposedly-unknown owner of the Holiday Inn, this is bunk. The Village of North Randall has owned this building since approximately 2001. The first action the village took was to auction the contents of the building, still housed inside where they were left in early 1992 to make this attractive as a turnkey sale. By 2001, none of the plans for the hotel had panned out, and the prospect of anyone’s opening the hotel turnkey-style was long lost. The rooms and offices were sloppily stripped and most contents were brought to the ground floor where the sale was held. Surprisingly, interest was not high for 80s bedspreads and faded banquet linens and analog clock radios. After the sale, the windows that had been slid open by fatigued workers were not closed again, allowing the elements into the tower. The building is currently for sale by the Village, but records indicate that high amounts of back taxes would have to be paid by a buyer. Add that to looming asbestos abatements before renovation could begin on the non-sprinklered, 12-story, 1974-vintage Holiday Inn, and you have the reason that no one has taken a gamble on doing anything with such a large building surrounded by everything that other posters have mentioned on this page.

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  157. I’ve never been inside Randall Park Mall and am trying to imagine the layout of it by looking at some of the pictures. If you go into the Sears store and go out into the mall from the Sears mall entrance, what would you see first off? Same with the Burlington entrance into the mall, what would you be seeing right past the entrance?

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  158. Went by the Mall in July and there were a few stores open and a security person. Went by again today to photograph and the place is in mch worse shape. Lots of ceiling leaks, no security and only about 2 stores left besides the anchors. Lots of very nice mall walkers though. Not mch time left for RPM.

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  159. Reuben- good points. I always found is strange when I read “North Randall cannot find the legal owner of the property.” Makes much more sense now. I am not surprised it is sitting dormant. Demolition alone would be a legal nightmare, let alone building something new and trying to attract customers. I think those workers were doing the building a favor by leaving windows open for Mother Nature to quietly wither away the building.

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  160. Todd- I don’t remember what you see outside of Burlington, BUT I came in from Sears (upper level) when I visited in June. If memory serves, to your left is the nicely painted wall of the former kids’ play place. To the right is a Nubian clothing boutique. Also to your left is the mall walker’s headquarters. Straight ahead is the railing over which you can see the lower level.

    I think Burlington’s entrance into the mall is down a little hallway? Anyone else know?

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  161. Brian- that is a bummer. When I went, the weather was nice, so roof leaks didn’t seem noticeable. And there were maybe a dozen stores. Is Subway still there? How about the school uniform place? Or the weird electronics store?

    Also, does anyone know what (if anything) used to be where the new movie theater is?

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  162. I didn’t realize that you could access the mall from both the upper and lower levels of Sears. Is it the same for Burlington’s? To stand in the mall entrances from either place on either level must be like standing and looking out into desolation now.

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  163. KB,
    There is a jewelry store and a free standing kiosk open. Nothing else. In July the flea market type electronics place, Kids clothing store were still there (no subway), Rainbow was closing then.
    Tiles missing now, someone broke one of the doors of the lower level entrance near Burlington, lights very dim all around.

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  164. I was born and raised in Cleveland but now live in Georgia. We left Cleveland in 1980. When I was a kid, my parents use to take me to Randall Park Mall and Southgate USA every Friday. I remember Randall as being crowded and Sears and Higbee’s was the place to shop! I especially remember the big toy store right outside of the mall called Children’s Palace. What happened to Children’s Palace? I returned for a family visit in 2005 and 2006, RPM was nothing as I remembered and the Children Palace building was vacant. As for Southgate, I can remember going to a record store called Peaches & Herb and buying my 45′s!!! I know that I am telling my age but what can be done to revive that area?

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  165. It’s unofficially official.. the mall is sealed off from both Burlington (which looks permanent) and Sears (they put down the chain link fencing, and covered it in plastic). I was there today and the lady in Burlington said it was sealed because “the mall is closed.” The lady in Sears said they did it because of the cold air coming in. However, she said you could still get to the mall through its main entrance, and there is still a “jeweler” (gold teeth) and a beauty salon (nails). Not sure how with it she is, though, since she also claimed the movie theater is closed (yet I drove by it and it was clearly open… the inside is amazing and they had even shoveled the walk, but there was only 1 car, presumably for the girl working inside). The furniture store is having a clearance, the Sears had all sorts of notices about things they don’t carry (but are in the regional Sears ads), and Burlington had specific start and end dates for layaway, plus signs screaming 80% off or something. The “park” in one of the signs has fallen out, too (on the Thistledown side).

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  166. Oh, and the hotel CLEARLY has “AYS INN” semi-covered over on one side of its utility tower (?) on the roof. There is also signage advertising the new medical mall being planned for the site.

    Sears and Burlington were jumping, by the way. That surprised me. Appliance area looked a little sparse at Sears, but all the displays looked up to date.

    There is also a Best Buy going in where Toys ‘R Us was. HA!

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  167. Select Jewelers on the lower level is still open to the best of my knowledge, although I will call them tomorrow to confirm.

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  168. Over at http://cinematreasures.org/theater/22882/, they claim the theater is closed?! Anyone know? The website hasn’t been updated since 11/3, either (although cinematreasures claims the site’s been removed, probably because their link has an un-needed comma in it). Go to randallparktheater.com

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  169. No, It is closed. It says under “now showing” Eagle Eye is one listed, which comes out on DVD next Tuesday, and the theater always showed first run movies.

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  170. Also under coming soon page, there is a poster for “Soul Men” and on that poster says November 7th http://www.randallparktheater.com/O%20Soon.htm

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  171. But I was there on Tuesday and there was a girl inside in a uniform, doing something behind the counter… lights were on, walk was shoveled and one of the interior doors was propped open. SO, I guess I want to know if anyone’s been there since Tues. and can confirm the closure. Website seems hopeless.

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  172. Is the mall really closed now? I was hoping to come to the area soon and see it.

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  173. Todd, by all means go soon if you want to see the place. Just now, I called Select Jewelers in the lower level; they are indeed open but mentioned that “much of the mall has been closed for a few days” due to leaking water. The lady I talked to was not sure if the theater was open! She went on to say its “different every day” lately at Randall Park. To me this sounds like bad news, since I’m not aware of anything else besides Select Jewelers still open in the mall, and a leaking ceiling could be just the type of thing that drives the final nail in the coffin for the place. I’d go there myself but I’m in Chicago; Todd if you’re nearby please check in and let us know what’s going on there.

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  174. I live in Chicago, too, Charles, what a coincidence! Near Yorktown mall.

    Anyway, where would one go through the main entrance? Where is it? I’ve always entered through an anchor store.

    Todd- I would think it should be pretty safe if you park someplace with a good number of cars, during the day.

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  175. I too have always entered through Sears. However there are also two entrances into the mall itself which I’m assuming are still open – one is near the food court and is on the southwest side of the mall between the ex-Macy’s and ex-Dillard’s, and the other is on the northeast side between the Burlington and the “O” theaters. If Sears has indeed sealed their mall entrance, these would be the only ways into the mall corridors.

    I’m near Yorktown too, and/or Stratford Square.

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  176. Sad to hear. I remember going to RPM back in the 70s. Hotdog-on-a-Stick, Orange Julius, Roy Rogers, and if I remember correctly, some burger place where you would sit on saddles?

    I would love to have gone back to see the mall, but maybe glad I did not, would be too depressing.

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  177. Did RPM have a Coney Island restaurant? I remember the Friendly’s Restaurant…..would love to see pictures of this mall from back in the early 80′s. Very sad to see it now.

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  178. Is RPM still open and still accessible?

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  179. Best way to find out would be to drive there and see for yourself. And report back to us here.

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  180. This might sound crazy, but I work for a company that might still have coin operated lockers in this mall. For anyone who reads this, can you still get into the mall and did anyone ever see any lockers left? I know we need to get out there and retrive them but I don’t want to book flights for a demolished building.

    Thanks!

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  181. I worked at the May Company at RPM while in high school and college vacation. 1976-1978. I believe the restaurant with the saddles was Roy Rogers. There was definitely a Coney Island restaurant. It was not too far from Hot Dog on a Stick. Friendly’s was on the far end. It was a great place to work as a teenager. I haven’t lived in the state for over 20 years. It’s sad to think of it’s demise.

    Does anyone remember what the strange shaped building is at the corner of Northfield and Emery Road used to be? It’s a round building that is red white and blue currently. A friend sent a recent photo and I can’t remember. I think it used to be a restaurant.

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    Bill Reply:

    @Carol F,

    I Believe It used to be a Royal Castle originally then changed to many different business now check cashing service.

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  182. Nichole-There are coin-op lockers at the upper main and lower main entrances. Large banks of them right by the doors to the parking lot, and I think they are vintage to the building’s construction. As far as I know, they are still there and in working order. The upper entrance is between the old May Company and Higbees facing Miles Road. The lower entrance is between the old Horne’s (now the furniture store/Burlington monstrosity) and the 12-screen cinema facing Northfield Road. To others, the “O Theater” is still showing current films, and their phone number plays a recording describing showtimes (216) 332-1700. It is being managed by the Esquire theater people in Cincinnati for an owner in N. Carolina. The owner is separate from the mall owner, and the cinema was possibly sold to this other investor so that it could continue to operate should the mall close. That sale from AMC corporate closed mid-2008. I would love to know what the funny, hat-shaped Northfield/Emery building was. Currently it’s a payday loan and check cashier, but it looks like it would have been an eye-catching pizza parlor or donut shop at one time. There is an identical structure on the west side somewhere, possibly on Brookpark or Pleasant Valley.

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  183. I remember when Randall opened. I used to love it. We went to see Star Wars (the first one) there and the line went all the down one of those ramps. It was sold out, but we went back and saw it a couple of days later. Randall used to have three small movie screens. I saw a lot of movies there, including ET and Poltergeist as well as Nightmare on Elm Street. The big building may have been a Days Inn at one time, but originally it was a Sheraton. It had an indoor pool. Randall used to be the place to go Christmas shopping or to buy clothes. I remember going around Christmas of 1986 and almost every parking space was full. I wanted to make a left turn while in the parking lot during that particular visit and there were so many cars coming the other way that I gave up and parked somewhere else. Before I was old enough to drive we used to take the rapid from Shaker Heights, then get on the 24 bus to the mall. When we first started going it was 13 cents to get on the rapid and with a transfer the bus ride was free. If you can point me to a picture of the Hat shaped building I can probably tell you what it was.

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  184. I was thinking Sheraton, but yes it was Holiday Inn.

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  185. OK, if you go to google maps and enter a search for Northfield and Emery road ohio, you will see a map. click on street view, then arrow to the right and you’ll see the intersection with the building. Thanks!

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  186. Here’s a link to MS Live Maps showing an aerial view of the round building.

    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=qx59sz865jjj&style=b&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=6785730&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1

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    Toby Radloff Reply:

    The crown-shaped buildings were originally Royal Castle restaurants, a chain similar to White Castle. Royal Castle was known for their hamburgers and birch beer. The Royal Castle chain went out of business in the mid-1970′s, and a few of them became Mister Donut shops. Royal Castle had 3 such crown-shaped buildings, all which are still standing. The Warrensville Heights location is a payday loan/check cashing business. One at Memphis and Fulton is now a Donut Connection. A third one, at Denison and Ridge, is still standing, but has been boarded up for many years.

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  187. In my lifetime of going to Randall (up until the early or mid 80s), that oddly shaped building everyone is wondering about was a donut shop. I cannot remember the name, but I do recall stopping there for donuts to take home for the next morning on the way home from shopping at the mall. I’m not sure if that was its original purpose or if it was built as something else and became a donut shop later, but, it did sell donuts at one time.

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  188. Yes, it was a donut shop. It used to be a chain and there were several of them in the Cleveland area. The chain closed up shop years ago.
    Last I remember, there are still those structures at Ridge/Denison and Biddulph/Memphis.

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  189. It was a Mister Donut–a chain now owned by Dukin’ Donuts that also had roots in New England. There was another, long running one in Willowick on Vine St. The one by Randall Park one took over space that had been a Royal Castle–probably the last one opened by that chain. Royal Castle was Cleveland’s homegrown version of White Castle.

    The hotel opened as a Holiday Inn.

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  190. What about this building, what was it? http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=qx50ff865q1b&style=b&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=6785749&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1

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  191. The above-mentioned building was an Uncle Bill’s with an attached JP Snodgrass. It took the place of the former East Side Drive-In, a General Cinemas auto theater.

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  192. An addition… This building was constructed as a Giant Tiger before Uncle Bill’s.

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  193. My recollection of the Uncle Bills’ above was that the smaller building slightly north and west of the Uncle Bills’ was an Uncle Bills and at some point they moved Uncle Bills’ into the bigger building. The smaller building subsequently filled up with smaller stores – Burlington Coat Factory, a bank, etc. I have not been in that building since about 1984. I believe I got a coat and some Bugle Boy clothes when I was there. The building that now looks like it has Big Lots and Office Max at one point (after there was no more Uncle Bill’s), became a store similar to Best (which was across the street in that building that looks like it is now Dallas Shoes). I believe the Big Lots building was also a DIY at one point (similar to Home Depot).

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  194. I remember the song in the commercial: “Uncle Bill’s is for the people”.

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  195. all i have to say is Church ‘N The Mall ROCKS!!!

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  196. A friend of mine sent me this list of Sears Holding stores that will be closing in Ohio. RPM is on the list. I haven’t seen any news stories that mention this specifically so take this with the proverbial grain of salt.


    Kmart 6600 N. RIDGE ROAD MADISON OH 44057 5/24/2009
    Kmart 1120 SOUTH MAIN STREET BRYAN OH 43506 5/24/2009
    Kmart 27322 Carronade PERRYSBURG OH 43551 5/24/2009
    Sears 501 Randall Park Mall NORTH RANDALL OH 44128 5/31/2009

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  197. I just visited randall park today for a documentary. I’ve never seen this mall in its heyday but to see it now is so sad…especially since the inside is still nice inside…
    The sears had everything in the store on sale when we visited it, im sure it wont be there for much longer

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  198. oh…for anyone who was curious…randall park closed last summer

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  199. Crain’s and the Cleveland Plain Dealer report the RPM Sears will be closing May 31. The mall is doomed! *sad*

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  200. Um no, Randall Park did not close last summer. I ran all the way out there to say goodbye to it, and then they decided to keep it open.

    And I’ll be out there again soon enough. I’ll give everyones regards to the old girl.

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  201. Can you still get into the mall and walk through it?

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  202. I finally decided to go back to Randall Park Mall last weekend to check out the Sears’ liqudation sale. So, sad! I was able to peek into the mall and was so overtaken by the vast emptiness of a place that was so busy when I worked there from 1982 through 1987. The number and size of each store was unbelievable. The crowds were huge, even after the riot in 1985. You could buy anything you wanted there. When I left retail, I kept in touch with many of my co-workers. As time went on and I noticed a change in the mall (stores closing) I began to ask questions to those who were in the know. They would tell me that as leases in the mall were coming due (many original retailers had 15 year leases), the rents were skyrocketing-double, triple and quaddruple. Retail was already beginning to suffer and many of the first stores that left felt they couldn’t afford to remain. It was also around the time that DeBartolo got himself into trouble with the 49ers and the government. The racetrack (also owned by DeBartolo at the time) was so busy that the overflow of cars would fill the northern parking lot.

    Unlike Southpark Mall, Randall was customer friendly. You had plenty of room to walk in the main concourse. It was always clean and kept up (at least until about 1989 or so). Food courts did not exist when Randall was built. You could buy food any where in the mall. Not just in a designated area.

    I have been racking my memory with just some of the stores that were in the mall – Burrows, Homemakers Shop, Richmond Bros., Petries, Jean Nicole, JB Robinson Jewelers, Gap, Arby’s, and more, of course.

    It is a shame it is now closed, but my memory of a mall that was once full of life, will never leave me.

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  203. Look at silly little me. Evryone’s on here talking about “is it closed yet, can you walk through it.” I found this website because I was looking for the store hours of this new liquidation store that opened out there. I haven’t been out there yet but the liquidation store is advertised on the radio like CRAZY! I’m going today to see if I can fine a few things for a house warming gift. I do know the city in which this mall is located is BROKE. They couldn’t even pay the police officer on 3rd shift so they were getting “assistance” for officers in other locations. That city is not the place to be at night.

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  204. Boy isn’t that the truth. I was scared to death when I was there with my wife a few months ago. I could just imagine if we would have tried to stay at the Knights Inn across the street from the mall. We would have awoken in the morning to find our car stripped and ganked, if of course we hadn’t been stabbed and beaten to death sometime in the middle of the night. No wonder such a beautiful place like Randall Park has gone down the toilet. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Anytime blacks invade an area, everything goes to crap for obvious reasons. It’s such a shame.

    [Reply]

    MT Reply:

    @Carlo,
    WOW…
    Your over active imagination is RIDICULOUS & SHAMEFUL…

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  205. Well, it’s been almost a year since I first found this site and posted…

    I visited the mall this sunday and I was in awe. It’s completely empty except for the church, nail salon & a ‘flea market’ across from the church.

    My friend and I spent over an hour walking through the mall saying goodbye… It’s hard to reconcile the vast emptyness, deafening quiet and the smell of water damage.

    We hope to return soon to take pictures. We’re running out of time.

    I’ve had no luck locating an original store roster or early 80′s store roster. I can’t remember so many of the store names!

    -Matt
    Ps
    The liquidation store requires $5.00 and a ‘membership’ to enter (or so we were told) It was busy enough that we just slipped in unnoticed.
    Not much in there… Perfume, t shirts, car audio, personal audio, bedsheets, slot machines, watches, sunglasses, bongs and pipes for sale..

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  206. On the wikipedia page of Randall Park Mall, Sears, the last remaining anchor (Technically from day one) is going to close as one of the 20 plus stores that are underperforming. Only Burlington Coat Factory will still be there.

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  207. I have what is supposed to be the original mall map and directory. DeBartolo mailed it to me when I wrote them for information on the mall. They also sent some photos, fact sheet, newspaper article, etc. from the time of the mall’s debut.

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  208. Would you happen to have a scanner? I’d like to see that directory.

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  209. I’ll scan it and put it online soon.

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  210. Can anyone tell me who owns Randall Park now? We were there on the weekend, and we ran into a bunch of great people who work for the new owners, but none of us thought to ask who that was.

    I have an absolutely legitimate reason for asking, but everytime I search, I get different answers.

    If anyone knows, please post.

    Thanks!!

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  211. According to the Cuyahoga County website it would be Randall Park Mall LLC. Purchased in Sept. 2004. The property owners own over $313,000 in back taxes. Steven-let us know when the directory/map is available.

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  212. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought it was purchased by something called United Church Builders, LLC, a subsidiary of Cincinnati United Contractors, nearly on the eve of its planned (threatened?) closure in june of 2008.

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  213. Owner’s name is Haywood Whichard according to Cleveland Plain Dealer article from May 2008.

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  214. Wichard still technically owns the mall, I believe, and owes the back tax. United Church Builders agreed to buy the mall in June ’08, and then there was an article after that in the PD saying there was a snag in the sale. Didn’t sound major, but I think it still has not technically gone through.

    Also, the movie theater’s website AND phone number are dead. Can’t be good…

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  215. Thanks – that’s what I keep finding – depending on what article you read, it’s Whichard, United Church Builders, or Cincinnati United Contractors (UCB is an offshoot).

    I just ended up contacting Church N The Mall. They’re really who I need to talk to anyway. Left a voice mail. Hope someone calls me back.

    The Movie Theater is done as a movie theater. Fliers at the mall said that there was a church (different than Church N The Mall) operating out of there for services.

    And yes, I would LOVE to see those scans if you get a chance. Did you get that info when DeBartolo still owned the mall, or recently?

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  216. I had to run out to Bedford today, and figured I’d swing by RPM just for a visit, to see if there are still any signs of life there.

    I did some scouting of the surrounding area, and stopped in the Sears first, to get a feel for the people in the environment. Normal people, really, but a fairly empty store, with a slightly musty warehouse-like smell to it. I spend about 7 minutes on the ground in Sears before moving on. A quick circle of the mall revealed signs on most of the main entrances, stating that there was still open entry through a door near Burlington Coat Factory. I passed by once or twice, and decided to go for it. The entry-way itself was an old service corridor, between the Sears and Burlington Coat Factory entrances, with some hand-made signs posted around it.I was by myself, but I’m a runner and an experienced urban explorer, so I was loaded lightly, and ready for (mostly) anything. Upon entry, you can see very little. The corridor itself is long and fairly dark. I did not get any pictures because there were a fair number of young people in the immediate area, and I did not want to draw attention to myself by pulling out my camera until I felt comfortable. Upon passing the corridor, there was music clearly audible from the lower floor. Further exploration would show that there is a fairly active gym/recreation center-type establishment in a storefront downstairs. Once again, I did not get any pictures for safety/cover purposes. Turning right out of the corridor, a few storefronts were still active, including a Flea Market/Bazaar type store, which is only open a few days a week. Upscale Nails was still somewhat active, with a few people in the store and surrounding areas. Other than that, there is no mall access to Sears. At no point did anyone inside the actual mall make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. People were polite, and did not seem to mind a young guy walking around by himself for no explainable reason. The mall itself is still in fairly good repair, though the signs of aging are becoming clear in a few places. I walked the entire length of the second floor, and was surprised to see how many things were just left waiting – as if people just decided to cut and run from the businesses that they had set up there. I spent less time on the lower floor, because there was a serious lack of lighting, and there seemed to be more possible places for something to go wrong. Lasalle still has mall access, or that’s at least what a large neon “OPEN” sign led me to believe. I’m not particularly interested in what they have to sell, so I took a picture in passing and continued on my way. I used that winding ramp system in the center court to return to the upper level. They were… fairly creaky, and made a good amount of popping/snapping noises as if they hadn’t been used in some time. The mall security office is closed, and what little signs of life remain are pretty close to that service corridor from which I entered. Close to Sears, there is some establishment, the name of which I can’t remember, but it had something to do with Cleveland Family Music, or something similar. One thing that I found particularly interesting about this visit is that there were about 6 old people (2 together, the remaining 4 by themselves) listlessly wandering about the mall, looking in storefronts and such, as if they came to shop and did not understand why nothing was open. For the sake of common courtesy, I did not take any pictures of them. At no point did I feel personally unsafe in the mall or on the surrounding premises – which is strange, because I have been there a few times in the past, and I had at least an air of uncertainty as to my personal safety. The people were friendly and courteous, most of them greeted me, and held open doors and whatnot. Overall, my time on the ground in the mall was about 28 minutes. I would like to return to explore more thoroughly before this place is permanently inaccessible, but that is obviously something for which I will be bringing a sidekick or two.

    My pictures can be found here
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/37890925@N08/sets/72157617400615312/

    Some are good, some aren’t so great. A few of them were taken in passing while I walked, and I had to reduce my resolution, due to low memory card capacity. I will report back further in the future.

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  217. Well, sadly Church N The Mall’s parent church completely and totally blew me off. More than once. They blew me off by e-mail, phone, and voice mail. Never once even gave me a chance to talk. I just don’t get it sometimes.

    Back to square one…….

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  218. I don’t imagine the matter can be that urgent, unless you’re looking to pick up a storefront in the mall…

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  219. Cleveanon- awesome writeup and pics. Thank you! Is the Cleveland Family Music place to the left when you come out of Sears, with a large mural painted on the wall? I thought that was the Kiddieland place that had closed.
    The mall sounds even more hopping than when I visited in May 08. Did you notice any activity/notices about the theater?

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  220. Vintage Randall Park Mall directory scan is up now here:
    http://www.greatamericaparks.com/images/thumbnails.php?album=164

    [Reply]

    Edie Reply:

    @Steven Wilson,

    Thanks. It brought back some great memories shopping at the stores listed.

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    MT Reply:

    @Steven Wilson,
    Thanks!

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  221. AMAZING! You are a hero to all of us. Greatest thanks.

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  222. That is correct. The location in question would have been directly to the left after exiting Sears, on the second level. I did not notice any activity in the theater, but I did not linger on that side of the mall while outside or inside. I will be returning soon with a friend of mine to do some more thorough investigation.

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  223. Thanks for the kind feedback, Jonah!

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  224. I’m not looking for a storefront. I have my reasons, but I also have my reasons for not elaborating at this time.

    We were there for about 2-3 hours a few weeks back. Nothing in-line was open except for Upscale Nails and One Dollar Hollar. Burlington/LaSalle was open, but they’re walled off.

    Staff was pleasant, and friendly, and didn’t care that we took pictures as long as we promised not to vandalize anything. No fear for our safety, although I’ve never feared for my safety there ever.

    The staff I spoke to (three older gentlemen – very friendly) are the ones I’d really like to speak to again, but I don’t know how to reach them. However, a friend who lives in the area will return in a few days if all else fails to speak to them. Like I said, I have a legit reason, but I don’t particularly want to elaborate at this time.

    Yes, it does smell funky in there – combination of mold and rotting plants. All in all, it’s in pretty decent shape, but the ceiling is bad. Carpeting visible in the old Higbee’s was moldy. Ceiling tiles are starting to fall.

    The theater is being used by Church N The Mall’s “main” church on weekends for services.

    [Reply]

  225. Oh – and thanks much for posting that scan. I was looking to see where the restaurant was where my husband and I had our first date, but it’s not on the list. But I take it this is an early directory, so it’s possible they hadn’t opened yet.

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  226. Apparently the scanned directory is from 1977 rather than 1976. Still, it gives a good sense of the mall’s original tenant mix.

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  227. funky-rat: Is Church ‘N the Mall using the new theater (former Magic Johnson) or the old theater (next to Diamond’s) for their services? Is the new theater still in business?

    Also, do you (or anyone) know when Higbee’s closed? What replaced it (if anything)?

    We should all plan a group field trip there!

    [Reply]

    Edie Reply:

    @KB, Dillard’s (formerly Higbee’s) closed in about 2002-03. Sorry nothing there except and empty building. The church in the mall appears to be using the lobby of the Majic Johnson theater. No movies being shown.

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  228. @KB:

    Mount Sinai Ministries (Church N The Mall’s “parent church” is running a church out of the former Magic Theatre. I picked up a flyer while I was out there. It’s something like “The Church At Park Place Theater” or something like that. Church N The Mall has moved down near Sears in the old Lerner store. It’s very pink, and gave me a bit of a chuckle…..

    Dillard’s replaced Higbee’s. They bought Higbee’s in the early 1990′s. Dillards closed up shop at RPM around 2002-ish according to what I could find (I was absent from NE Ohio from the mid 90′s – mid 00′s).

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  229. Also @ KB:

    You have my photos on your list. I have a set from one year earlier which you can link to if you want (you can find them on my photostream). Mikey Brown and Otterphoto are friends of mine. We were all out there 2 weeks ago together.

    Otterphoto and I have been making a yearly pilgramage (oddly, almost always in April) for the last 3 years. His photoset goes back for 3 years and it’s a good way to watch the decline.

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  230. A friend of mine and I attempted entry this past Thursday (04/30) at approximately 5:30 p.m. We were running considerably behind schedule, but figured there would be some other things to do/explore in the surrounding area if/when we failed to get inside, so we gave it a go anyway. Sears is closing fast, with very little inventory on the floor. Burlington doesn’t appear to be pulling any of their support, as the store is fully stocked and staffed. We made a few rounds of the area by car, and crossed approximately 1/3 of the area on foot. There were two North Randall Police vehicles in the area, one being a standard Ford, and the other was and SUV, but I did not make a note of which make/model it was. Additionally, the Warrensville Heights Police presence was fairly large in the North Randall area. We did not enter Lasalle, and the doors outside of the former O Theater/Magic Johnson were locked, so we were not able to speak with any church personnel/members. I will be returning this week during daytime hours, likely Thursday, to report back and do some further ground surveillance. If anyone is interested in joining, let me know.

    …there’s safety in numbers, I suppose

    [Reply]

    Jim Reply:

    @cleveanon,
    Figured I’d give you a little history lesson since you are into the Mall.
    RPM property was such a large venue, that patrol duties were shared, as a matter of fact, the actual Village/City border ran from Miles Rd just east of Warrensville Center Rd.up into the area around the original JC Penney Auto Center.
    Mall security guards were actually sworn officers with the NRPD, as the Mall was the center of everything in the Village.
    Few people knew, that the Fire Dept was actually Volunteer.
    After the 1987 Riot , the security force of 8-10 officers on Saturday evenings was bolstered for a short time , Quadrupled.
    But the damage was done to the reputation of the Mall forever. And what had already been in decline turned into a death spiral. By the early 90s, painted drywall was the storefront decor that was most popular. Empty stores abounded.

    So now you have an empty venue as the result of a community obviously unable to sustain itself.

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  231. @cleveanon

    Were the doors into the service corridor locked? As far as I know, that’s the only way in.

    If you run into one of 3 very pleasant African-American gentlemen, please ask them if they remember the group who came in a few weeks ago with people from Chicago, and people who had their first date there. If they do, ask them how I can get in touch with them because I have something I need to discuss with them. It’s very important to me, and I’ll return the favor if possible.

    If you need further info, please e-mail me:
    username AT excite.com.

    If you don’t run into them, I’ll send my friend who lives in the area out there.

    Thanks!

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  232. My son and I ventured over to Randall on Sunday. We attempted to enter the mall through mall entrances and service doors aronund the entire mall with no luck. However, we did enter the Magic Theater when church services ended. We were greeted by a nice gentleman who stated to us that the church was in negotiations with the mall owners to purchase the property. Which we found interesting because we noticed that the church was running an extension cord from the lobby of the theater to the mall’s interior to run their equipment. He also stated to us that the church had another location on Woodland Avenue. (And they are in negotiations?!) He appeared to be running interference because he allowed us to walk the theater lobby but followed us all the way around. We drove around the mall and investigated several books of paper around Macy’s (May Company). These books were sales books-would mean nothing to the average person.

    Has anyone else heard anything new about this church?

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  233. @Edie

    Both of the churches out there are part of Mount Sinai Ministries:

    http://www.mtsinaiministries.org/index-old2.htm

    Each one seems to serve a slightly different purpose, and perhaps a different group of people.

    If anyone could figure out how to get past their receptionist, let me know your trick……..

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  234. @KB,
    Thanks for the work on the page!
    Especially the directory!

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  235. I will return this Thursday, with the intent of getting some more accurate details as to what exactly is going on with the property. My sidekick is working, so it’s unfortunately going to be a solo mission.

    I will advise Thursday evening, with all new/relevant information.

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  236. There is a facebook group – Remembering the Randall Park Mall – with some amazing newspaper clippings from when the mall opened. A map of the original floorplan (I think) is also posted there. Plus, there are more photos taken in April, 2009.

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  237. My husband finally tracked someone down there to talk to. She told him that the mall is closed permanently, and that about 3 weeks ago, the power was shut off to the mall itself (not the anchors).

    She claimed that the mall was declared unsafe for people to be inside (we did notice quite a bit of deterioration when we were there in April). We’re guessing that the guys we ran into were there to get the mall ready to shut down.

    So it sucks, because now I have to change some plans I was hoping to make, but I feel fortunate that we were able to get in one last time and not have security hassle us.

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  238. I just stumbled upon this site the other day, so I will offer my thoughts on Randall Park. I did not grow up in the Cleveland area but did date a girl from Cleveland’s western suburbs in the late 1970s. I do recall news stories at the time that Randall Park mall opened, heralding it as the largest mall ever. (I don’t know if that was accurate- may be at the time, before Mall of America?). Any way, I remember visiting this girl in the western suburbs and proposing that we venture over to the east side to go to this fantasically massive new Randall Park Mall. I also recall her reaction: No way! I soon learned that westsiders do not visit the east side (and vice versa)- even to see the World’s largest shopping mall…

    I did finally visit the Randall Park mall, years later, when I moved to Cleveland for career reasons. That was the late 1980s and I was singularly unimpressed with Randall Park. At that time, Randall Park had not yet entered its decline as related in the above postings. But, there was certainly nothing going on at Randall Park at the time. This was probably only 10 years after the mall opened. The best I could say for Randall at the time is that it was big- but boring. That was my first and only visit to Randall Park. I have not lived in Cleveland for over 10 years but I am not at all surprised to learn about Randall Park’s demise.

    The developers of the 1970s seemed to think all they needed to do was group a bunch of stores under a roof, surround it with parking lots, and, voila, mall success! That formula may have worked for a time, but certainly has not proven successful over the decades.

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  239. I visited this place on Friday night onmy way through Cleveland. Its too bad to see it like this but it is a total dump. It is in really bad shape in alot of places and could only imagine what the inside looks like…Too bad I couldn’t get in. I could only imagine what it was like in it’s heyday. I’m glad I was able to visit it but too bad I was about a month late and couldn’t venture inside.

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  240. I know I’m getting to the discussion after the party’s almost over, but thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences and thoughts about RPM and my beloved NE Ohio.

    We lived in Warrensville Hts (WH) briefly on 2 separate occasions, first in 1972 and then again in 1974. I went to Westwood Elementary, and we lived in some fugly mid-rise apts across from the track in 1972. When we returned in 1974, we lived in an efficiency motel which I think is a unit in the current Days Inn on Northfield (?) Rd. My dad raced horses for a living at that time, and the owner had him at several tracks across the country and thus me in different schools. In those days, WH was not the most pleasant place to live, but there was life at least and not the ghost town it looks to be now.

    The Thistledown horsemen HATED the RPM development because trainers and grooms used to take horses over to the crumbling RP grandstand and track to let the horses roll and graze – it was like a big quiet park. When the mall finally opened, it was initially a success as others documented here, but it made the traffic horrendous when we started racing off the farm and commuting the horses nearly 2 hours up I-77 with a pickup and trailer. But of course the (valid) argument was the retail shopping and gambling would feed off each other in terms of draw. For a short time it worked…but as others pointed out it sure went downhill fast.

    I do remember the winding ramps and the game rooms where I dropped many a quarter for Galaga and Pac-Man in brief breaks before we had to go back and get the horses ready for their races. But back then, it was a treat to go to the Malls once in awhile – it was a real family outing. Not a place to hang out and get in trouble. I’ll preface my next thought with this: I’m only prejudiced against a**holes, and my best friend here in Boston is black. But- I do remember more groups of black kids than white that heckled and glared at me – and I felt unsafe a few times. Conversely, the only shoplifting I witnessed was a white kid stealing a cd from a record store. I guess good people are good and bad are bad, and no one is perfect. Anyway then after I started college at Kent in 1983 I never went to RPM again. By then it was notorious and there were plenty of other choices. Little Chapel Hill mall (now Chapel HELL from what I’ve heard) was a fave hangout during college. Ah, the Enchiladas Tampico at Chi-Chi’s, $4.99…

    I think one big problem was Ohio simply built too many damn malls – it was crazy. DeBartilow made out like the crook he most certainly was, while at the same time ruining the old city cores that lost traffic and now, aggravating the suburban and exurban blight. With the permanent economic decline of the United States well underway, soon exascerbated by oil shortages once we can’t import enough of a dwindling resource, I think we’ll see a reversal of suburbanization and, after a lot more pain, perhaps a return to happy times without the need to drive in crappy traffic with dangerous 2400+ pound tanks mindlessly sucking up the wealth God gave us, carrying maybe 500 pounds of people. Ohio was the ultimate industrial state, it’s too bad so much of the industrial wealth had to be from manufacturing automobiles. But I now wish I’d have picked up an unexportable trade and still could live in OH, instead of being an accountant!

    I’d really like to see these upscale shopping things go in favor of the classic all-purpose middle America malls like RPM. I despise consumerism and materiality, but I think as we return to buying “stuff” as a treat every now & then instead of just mindlessly destroying all our financial and ultimately natural resource wealth, the mall could come back. Connect it with safe mass transit and stop building roads to it. It’s probably too late to save Randall Park, but I think the lessons learned will not be lost. Cleveland, with all its problems, still is and will always be one of my 3 favorite cities alongside Pittsburgh and Erie. I think once the auto mess passes it will come back – it has too much natural wealth and too many good people not to. Meantime the nostalgic escape is welcome in these hard times. Thanks to everyone again for taking the time to share this and to these great websites for keeping the memories alive.

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  241. It seems like almost all of deBartolo’s malls fell into trouble: look at Palm Beach Mall or Southwest Center. Yikes.

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  242. Wow, I didn’t know that. DeBartolo was everywhere – I had no idea he developed malls in other areas. It seems like Ohio was becoming one big mall before things went bust.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    @Myles, yes Ohio is over-malled, but then so is the rest of the country. The level of retail development in the US over the past 40 years just could not be sustained. Have Americans’ disposable incomes increased so greatly that we have a never-ending need for new retail outlets? I don’t think so- certainly not in the last couple of years.

    Judging from the list of ailing malls in Labelscar and the roster of malls in the Dead Malls website, the surplus of retail space is not limited to “rustbelt” cities or economically depressed areas. Just look at the list of dead malls in Texas. It’s really kind of shocking.

    What’s especially interesting is that, at least prior to the current recession, the failure of a mall or strip center didn’t seem to discourage the developers. They would just build a new mall or strip center down the street. A startling illustration of that phenomenon is provided by North Avenue (Route 64) in DuPage County, Illinois (in the western suburbs of Chicago and the wealthiest county in Illinois). In the eastern leg of North Avenue, in Villa Park, is North Park Mall- a dead mall. At the western end, in St. Charles, is the Charlestowne Mall, which has fallen on hard times (but is admittedly far from dead). In between there are lots- and lots- of strip centers. These strip centers are for the most part under-leased with vacant storefronts or spaces converted to non-retail uses (e.g., storefront churches). Again, this is the wealthiest county in Illinois and yet one of its primary highways is lined with dead malls and strip centers. Where is the economic sense in that? Why not rehabilitate existing retail space, rather than over-build retail space?

    May be the current economic crunch will slowdown this wasteful development- so, perhaps there is a silver lining to this recession…

    [Reply]

    Myles Reply:

    @James, I’m just now reading your reply from last summer, thank you for the insight and information! I guess I was too provincial in my thinking – and yes after this recession the retail blight is really everywhere, no place is immune. Memphis, my birth city has had some really disasters – Mall of Memphis in particular.

    I like the area you live in and it is very affluent – amazing that dead shopping areas are there. I’m afraid our affluence vs poverty is being replaced by one big vat of effluence :(

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  243. The “disposable income” question is an interesting one. I think that the lack thereof, even for middle and upper-middle class families, is part of what has led to the death of the American Mall. I can remember shopping for recreation all through my childhood, teen years, and into college. There was always money available, and so it seemed for my peers. But if you look at what the basic necessities and utilities were for a typical family in the mid 80s versus now, you can see where the “extra” money goes. In the 80s you had a phone bill. Now you have a phone bill, plus a cellular bill with two or 3 phone lines on it, text, and multimedia for Blackberry. You also have your high-speed internet bill, which gets tacked onto either the cable bill (something else not everyone had back then) or your landline. If it isn’t cable, it’s satellite. We have multiple vehicles with million-plus liability coverage. We have the electric and gas bills to heat and cool our homes which are, on average, 50% or more larger than the ones we grew up in. Just these few examples easily eat up the hundreds I blew per month at my friendly neighborhood now-defunct mall. It’s no wonder most people can’t live without 3 or 4 credit cards these days; all of their income is spent on fixed bills for service contracts and the like.

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    wtv Reply:

    Not to mention property taxes that have gone through the roof, at least where I live. They cost more than food for a family of four. Some people I know pay more in property taxes than they do on their mortgage payment.
    The other consideration is that people used to go to malls to see different products. Now who wants to walk around to see things when you can pull them up online much faster and without taking hours to go to a mall and walk around.
    How many kids hang out and talk these days? They text each other. Even when they are congregating in a group they are often texting instead of talking.
    When you buy something that is not online you want to go get it, you don’t want to park a mile away and walk through a department store and go up some stairs to buy it.

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  244. Consumer spending is one of the things- some economists would argue the primary thing- that kept our economy afloat prior to the current recession.

    Now, with the basics of life eating up so much of our incomes (as noted by Erika) and with the Democrat-led government having an ever-increasing need to eat up our incomes as well, we can forget about consumer spending ever leading the way out of this recession.

    Am I exagerrating about the government’s appetite for our incomes? Not hardly. I’m one of those folks in suburban Chicago with a property tax bill larger than my monthly mortgage payment. With high property taxes, you might think our sales tax would be less- think again. We have a 10.25% sales tax in Chicago, the highest in the country. On top of that, our Democratic governor wants to double the state income tax. And, by the way, the State’s deficit is in the billions.

    Nope, consumer spending as an economic stimulus looks like a lost cause. [One exception might be the recent increase in new car purchases- but of course that bit of consumer spark was courtesy of the US taxpayer-funded cash for clunkers program. Seems to me using tax dollars on such programs only increases the government's appetite for a bigger chunk of my pay-check- and thus ironically reducing consumer spending]

    All of this does not bode very well for the shopping mall.

    Randall Park Mall was a bit of a pace-setter among the malls of the 1970s, even claiming to be the largest for a year or two. Now, just 30 years later, Randall Park continues to be pace-setter- ironically as a dead mall. Perhaps the largest of the malls to ever crash and burn.

    [Reply]

  245. I also remember DeBartolo landing his helicopter on the roof of his Holiday Inn to attend a big event at the mall.

    [Reply]

    Myles Reply:

    @Nick, Wow! I don’t remember that but I do remember DeBartilow would land in the middle of the Thistledown infield sometimes while we were racing. My dad: “well j*sus chr*st, maybe he could save some for the g*d d*mn purses (winnings from races for the horsemen)” lol. :-P

    [Reply]

  246. Thanks for the memories. I went there on opening day in 1976, lived a block a away ’86-88, and my wife worked in the mall. It was an incredible mall… just HUGE! Does anyone remember the jingle – “The biggest mall in all the world is Randall Park” I still can’t get that out of my head. The mall declined due to DeBartolo never updating anything and due to the whites’ fear of the blacks. Hate to say it, but that was part of it. My wife broke up a gang fight in ’89 in the inside Burger King that she managed (there was also an outside BK). Interesting that there were several double stores in the mall. Hot Dog on a Stick on both levels :) I’d love to walk it again with someone.

    [Reply]

    Myles Reply:

    @Rob, I agree totally. Once DiB made his fortune developing the things, what did he care what happened after…the flaws of capitalism. I can’t believe your wife broke up a gang fight, wow, she sounds like quite a lady.

    Every time I go to this page I get all nostalgic and want to move back home. But I guess you can’t really because that particular home isn’t there anymore. Someday, though. If I thought I could make a living at something I’d be on my way back now, but I’m a one-trick pony (accountant).

    Please count me in on that walk through the mall too.

    :-)

    [Reply]

  247. Another problem with DeBartolo is the company went bellyup in the early 90s following a number of problems within the company, that’s why Simon took over. As for Randall Park, it was already well past its prime when the company began to go under.

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  248. Does anyone know if they plan on selling or auctioning off any old pieces of the mall? Growing up in Cleveland and going to RPM and seeing the website brings back so many memories. It really is a shame to see what WAS a great place to fall apart like this. If anyone has older pictures of RPM from the inside and can post them that would be great. I use to work at the 2 Hallmark stores back in the late 80s and early 90s so seeing some of the names of the stores was great!!!

    [Reply]

  249. Hi Mark: Checkout

    http://www.up-late.com/mall.htm

    lots of links to photo and video of the mall.

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  250. Great postings and now I’ll be late for work tomorrow morning. Fresno CA.

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  251. Randall Park is the biggest of the malls to fail in Cleveland (and the US?); what about the rest of Cleveland area malls?

    CLEVELAND’S EASTSIDE MALL SCENE, CIRCA 1980 VS. 2009:

    Richmond Mall / Expanded, Now Richmond Town Center

    Beachwood Place / Expanded & Nearby Lifestyle Centers at La Place & Legacy Village opened or remodeled in recent years

    Great Lakes Mall / Still going (strong?).

    Severance Center / Died, Replaced with Strip Center in Late 90s

    Randall Park Mall / Dead

    Euclid Square Mall / Dead

    Cedar Center & Southgate USA / Still going, in one form or another

    Eton Square & Village Center / Still going, in “life style center” mode

    CLEVELAND’S WEST SIDE MALL SCENE, CIRCA 1980 VS. 2009:

    Great Northern / Expanded several times, bigger than ever

    Westgate / Died, replaced with lifestyle center in 00s

    Midway / Dying, if not already dead.

    Beach Cliff / Major remodel in 00s- going strong or struggling?

    Promenade & Crocker Park- New Since 1980; Promenade in 90s & Crocker Park in the 00s

    CLEVELAND’S SOUTH SIDE MALL SCENE, CIRCA 1980 VS. 2009:

    Parmatown / Dying?

    Southland / ???

    South Park Mall- New Since 1980; opened in late 90s- going strong?

    [Reply]

    anon Reply:

    @James,

    south park opened in the 90s

    [Reply]

  252. Parmatown is in real trouble. If I had to guess, it’s about 50% filled…the rest of the space is covered over with signage from waterproofing services, etc.

    You’d have to see it for yourself, but it’s nowhere near what it was in the 80′s and 90′s.

    SouthPark, which has a lot to do with Parmatown’s decline, is doing very well, especially on the weekends.

    Chapel Hill mall in Akron is looking pretty rough these days by all accounts.

    Myself and others have written about all this on the Rolling Acres board, you might want to check it out.

    [Reply]

  253. I’m almost afraid to ask this, but what do you think are the chances of ever being able to be let into Randall Park and/or other dead and closed up malls to be able to walk through them again before they are possibly demolished?

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  254. RPM was the biggest mall in the country for a very brief time. It was bigger than any of the other malls in Cleveland–which at that time included the newly enlarged Great Northern. It had nearly twice the number of stores of Great Lakes Mall, which has remained the healthiest of the mainstream East Side malls, although the strips immediately around it are in bad shape.

    The Royal Castle was probably their last new build and predated the mall. It’s been discussed previously and elsewhere.

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  255. The big old nasty building you were asking about
    started out as a Days Inn hotel it might have changed names ten times or more since then
    Well up here in Alaska we have a couple Malls
    they mention one of malls on deadmalls University Mall is now going alittle better they got Lazy Boy funiture and the Alaska university moved in on the other end and they gave the place a face lift it looks good in there :) and it is 90% filled with stores
    P.S. love your web site and thanks for the memorys of when i was a mall rat :)

    [Reply]

  256. I was just looking at the 1977 Mall Directory, and the only stores still in business (under the same name) are…

    Things Remembered
    Spencer Gifts
    Radio Shack
    Orange Julius
    JC Penney
    Sears
    Pearle
    Baskin Robbins
    Frederick’s of Hollywood
    Friendly’s
    Naturalizer
    Lane Bryant
    American Commodore
    Gap
    JB Robinson
    GNC
    Jo Ann Fabrics

    [Reply]

  257. Really disturbing is that I stayed in that hotel once with my family… it was even creepier when it was open, at night… at the pool… yeah horror movie material even when not condemned….

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  258. It truly is sad to see the mall now. I grew up there, my parents owned the Karmelcorn shop and I can still remember how much fun my sisters and I would have there. This artical brought back some good memories.

    By the way, that big scary building used to be a hotel, but that was before my time.

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  259. I should remember this, but can someone tell me the first two video/computer games stores and which came first to RPM? I was thinking Electronic Boutique first followed by Chips-n-Bits, but someone else is telling me otherwise. I appreciate all the memories that have come back to me just reading this site. I have some of my own memories I will post soon. Thanks everyone!

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  260. Looks like Randall Park Mall is (or will be) getting a new owner:

    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/04/new_york_real_estate_company_h.html

    Notice there’s no mention of the Cincinnati-based church-building firm.

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  261. The plans sound vague, but an emphasis on light manufacturing would fit the other development in the area, which has a lot of small industry and semi-industrial uses (e.g., places that sell tile, roofing; distribution facilities etc.). There’s a lot of unused retail, including large buildings that also could be repurposed in this way. The area is not far from the Highland Hills “new town” (a redevevelopment of proprty that the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County had used for various institutional purposes like a workhouse and a rehab facility) which has been developed as offices and would complement this kind of usage and perhaps stimulate interest.

    [Reply]

  262. Man, I loved that old mall. I grew up in the southeast suburbs in the mall’s heyday, and I can tell you unequivocally why it died. Whitey was afraid of brown people, particularly in the 70s and 80s. Urban legends were abounding about crime, molestations, and an orgy of bloodthirsty murders. And as a lanky white boy from Garbage Heights, I was admonished to stay the hell away, lest that dark-skinned bogeyman get me with his non-white blackness.

    Ultimately, the mall died an ignominious death. I worked there during the early 1990s, and by that time, few name-brand retailers had the intestinal fortitude to stick it out. Consequently, the mall was replete with Arab-run pager stores, head shops, and one-off check-cashing joints. There was even a GNC vitamin shop that sold cigarettes and rolling papers.

    It was pretty seedy, to say the least, and there were a few homeless people living in the food court. The mall was also infested with cats by the hundreds. The scene was as surreal as it was soul-crushing, like the putrified entrails of a post-apocalyptic Vietnam.

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  263. To Nick (above), the store name you are thinking of was Video Concepts. In a strange parallel coincidence, it was looted on the same day as the LA riots.

    [Reply]

    Nick Reply:

    @Sick of it All,

    Yeah, I vaguely remember that store. I think they were bought out by Radio Shack. I actually which of the two video/computer game stores, Electronic Boutique or Chips-n-Bits, was opened in the mall first?

    Too bad about the mall as you look back. I lived in Maple Heights and used to walk there or get dropped off to play video games at Fun-N-Games, watch movies at the theater, eat something from Hot Sam’s or Karmelcorn or something like that.

    [Reply]

    Toby Radloff Reply:

    @Sick of it All,

    Video Concepts sold high-end TV sets and VCR’s…in an era before flat-screen sets. In the 80′s, you could buy a CRT color TV that had a picture tube as big as 36 inches. Those mothers weighed over 200-250 pounds, required two people to lift, and required heavy-duty stands. This was when a VCR cost about $400-$500 (even more for higher-end models), and blank VHS and Betamax tapes cost $5 each. Video Concepts never rented movie tapes, despite the name. Video Concepts, I think, was owned by Radio Shack/Tandy. In the 80′s, some TV dealers, including Eric Martin’s and Curtis Mathis, both at Southgate, added video rentals. Eric Martin’s, at one time, had probably the largest selection of movie tapes in the southeast suburbs. You were enrolled in their video club for free if you bought a VCR there.

    [Reply]

  264. Has anyone done any recent urban exploring? I grew up in Solon and when I was young my mom and I made many a stop there.

    If I still lived close by I would love to do a covert exploration.

    [Reply]

  265. I worked at this mall when it first opened and stayed until I was transferred to another location in 1980. I always enjoyed the mall, everyone was happy to shop there as well as work there. Times changed and a few bad apples combined with changing demographics led to its demise.

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  266. Anyone caught in the mall will, of course, be arrested. Anyone caught on mall property anywhere near the building (other than Burlington, PSI, or LaSalle) will, at the very least, be stopped by cops. If you go on the property, stay on the perimeter road or to the outside of the road.

    The building has new owners who have some sort of redevelopment plans, but they don’t need people sneaking in, causing more damage and possibly getting hurt.

    Best to stay out of the old hotel, too. It’s infested with black mold. One homeless guy who camped in it has died from a pulmonary infection.

    [Reply]

  267. What was the murder? I got tired of reading all of the years of posts.

    [Reply]

    Toby Radloff Reply:

    @sleep4seen,

    There was a murder in 1979, two years after the mall opened. The dead body of the manager of the Father & Son shoe store was found in a snow bank. In 2001, an off-duty Maple Heights police officer, moonlighting as a security guard, murdered a shoplifting suspect at Dillard’s. The murder victim’s family later sued the mall (by then owned by mall slumlord Heywood Whichard) and Dillard’s. Dillard’s closed that location months later.

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  268. SAD, it was the loudmouth teen black kids who killed the mall. I worked at Sears in the early 90′s and witnessed first hand the black guy who drove his car into the store, and out an other set of doors, becuase he was in an argument with his girl friend. Seriously, these people have no respect for personal property of lives. Glad it’s dead. now bury it!!!

    [Reply]

  269. We just did a dead mall tour this past weekend. Could not find one entrance into the Randall Park mall! can you get in from the remaining tenants (burlington), or do they have it closed off to the mall? We also went to the rolling acres mall and could not get in, but you could see the mall from the sears and Jcpenney if you peeked behind the clothes. Incidentally, I did try to also get into that abandoned hotel.

    [Reply]

  270. Shop lifting killed this mall- the high risk demo-Face it this area will never have retail/ or any groups willing to open up invest for long term operations. The people living near the RPM/RAM malls should have respected the fact that people were willing to develope those malls- evern back in the 70′s when the hoods were still chock full of low rent- crap people.People no longer invest in projects – take those sort of risks – Its over .

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  271. Good one Randall Cop! I understand your position, but anyone looking to get into the mall wont be casually cruising the riddled asphalt parking lots. And honestly, who patrols the interior of a 2,000,000sqft abandoned building? ….larger I bet if you account for the space that wasnt retail, back of house areas,etc. What cop would willfully take chase to someone or more than one person in such a dark cavern? I can imagine that anyone who wanted to could have a full urban exploration of the place so long as they could safely enter. Personally I would be more spooked by squatters that might be infesting the place. One could very well live in the building and go undetected as did the poor man you described.

    Personally I would explore it given the chance because of the good times it reminded me of and the strange macabre slow death it suffered. Every time I pass a new retail center I think, that place will be RPM one day.

    Before they tear it down, someone take down Reflections at Randall put some windex to it, and reuse it, as well as some of the other period art that is found throughout.

    [Reply]

  272. Can I use some of these images in a presentation I am making about North Randall for a Cleveland State University class on Urban History? I am actually doing North Randall as a research paper topic.

    [Reply]

    Caldor Reply:

    sure!

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  273. The building started out as a holiday Inn then became a Days Inn, then ane ye sore

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  274. Looks like the plans to redevelop RPM have failed:

    http://clevelandjewishnews.com/articles/2011/04/29/news/business/doc4dbac725c130d175469698.txt

    what a shame…

    [Reply]

  275. I did not read failure in the article in the Jewish News.

    “Whether Bernstein’s vision becomes a reality is yet to be determined.”

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  276. Rest in peace old faithfull mall….

    You want to know why Randall park mall failed, (and Euclid square mall).

    It is simple as this, it wansn’t “the changing demographics” those mall died because the did not adhere to a number of rules of mall operations.

    1) NEVER let a public bus line stop at the door of your establishment.
    Particularly one that comes directly through the inner city. the 56a, and the (imbw 14) bus lines came from downtown Cleveland, through every rough neighborhood in the city and dropped gang members and thugs right off at the door of the mall.
    this made for constant loitering as they got off the bus, trouble when the gangs met up IN the mall, and trouble when they congregated when they left.
    Randall realized this mistake when they bannd the bus lines to the outer areas of the parking lot moving the hoards out to the boon docks, but alas it was too late.
    I cite another example of this phenomenon…
    Euclid square mall. the number 1 bus started at downtown Cleveland, went through every urban neighborhood on the NE side of Cleveland, and stopped RIGHT AT THE DOOR (May co) of Euclid square mall. Result… dead MALL!!!!
    Ok who going to be the first to call me a racist???
    We forget it…
    What I said above is an observable fact…
    “I”, on occasions too numerouse to count, witnessed paying mall shoppers (White and Black) get back in their cars and drive off after witnessing hoards of thugs getting off the bus at the front door of Randall.

    2) Security should have been the FIRST proirity.
    RPM had security front and center when it opened, there was a 50 or 60 camer security center located on the floor of the mall. the demise of this front and center security hastened the troubles. you have to have a strong presence.
    Lack of ZERO tolerance WELL PUBLICIZED, HIGHLY VISIBLE security = DEAD MALL.

    3) Stop catering to KIDS / teens….
    Kids spend money, typically its their PARENTS money. cater to THEM… and They will come…
    Urban stores will not support a Mall. you need a mix, and to get a mix you need ADULTS WITH CASH, to get ADULTS with cash you need SECURITY!!!!
    SEE ! and 2 ABOVE

    RPM did not learn this first hand…
    Euclid mall did not learn this by witnessing the demise of RPM…
    they both died…

    Tragic….

    [Reply]

    Toby Radloff Reply:

    @cjm,

    I remember the bus situation at Randall Park Mall quite well. When Randall Park first opened in 1976, the #15 Union, #19 Broadway/Miles, #34 Green Road, and #91 Maple Heights/Dunham Road buses used to stop in front of the Miles Avenue side of the mall entrance, as well as at the May Company and Higbee’s entrances. Randall Park Mall management later ordered RTA to move the bus stop to the far perimeter of the parking lot because the buses were damaging the pavement. RTA also had to move bus stops at Westgate Mall in Fairview Park and Parmatown Mall in Parma, again due to pavement damage. But nearby Southgate still had bus stops (on the #90 and #91 Maple Heights Transit lines) in front of the May Company, K mart (former Sears) and Peaches Records/Northeast Appliance (former JC Penney) stores.

    [Reply]

    Toby Radloff Reply:

    @cjm,

    3) Stop catering to KIDS / teens….
    Kids spend money, typically its their PARENTS money. cater to THEM… and They will come…
    Urban stores will not support a Mall. you need a mix, and to get a mix you need ADULTS WITH CASH, to get ADULTS with cash you need SECURITY!!!!
    SEE ! and 2 ABOVE

    Or Mommy and Daddy’s Gold Credit Cards!!!

    [Reply]

  277. yeah, i remember this mall all too well. I loved catching the bus (even if it was an hour ride) through town (like CJM mentioned) to go here. I loved the bookstores, the hobby store with the facade made to look like a model train., the two game rooms, the movies, etc.

    A great part of the demise had to do with Malls becomming a teen hangout, which lead to the problems mentioned by others. Of course it didnt help that there was a large highschool within walking distance so i know it wasnt odd for kids to head to the mall from school.

    I even worked at Joseph Hornes for a year or two before it expired. I really miss that place. Haven’t been in the building in years. Very sad to see that place deserted.

    [Reply]

    Toby Radloff Reply:

    @ME,

    Randall Park Mall was close to three high schools, Warrensville Heights, Bedford, and Chanel. Many high school students had jobs at the mall. I graduated from Bedford High in 1977, and many of my classmates applied-and got-jobs at some of the mall’s retailers when it first opened. Still, other teens will go to the mall to eat fast food, play arcade games, watch movies, watch their friends (and other people)…and spend money as well. I spent a lot of time (and money) at Randall Park in the mall’s heyday in the 1970′s and 1980′s. I used to go there at least twice a week at one point, usually to the cinemas. After the gang riot happened, my visits to Randall Park became few and far between. The last time I was there was in the early-2000′s, going to a movie at Magic Johnson. (I think the film I saw was “Deuce Bigalow-European Gigolo”.) I walked around the mall itself after the film, and was amazed at how dead it became. When the Magic Johnson theaters opened in 1999, it did seem to be a brief glimmer of hope for Randall Park (the Jeepers arcade/restaurant opened around the same time.) All of the anchors (Kaufmann’s, Dillard’s, JC Penney, Sears, and Burlington) were still open. However, that hope was short lived. Stores continued to close, as well as the anchors. Jeepers was closed the last time I was at Randall. (During a 1999 visit, I stood in front of Jeepers’ window for a while watching kids riding the mini roller coaster inside.) Now, all that’s left is Burlington Coat Factory, and a motorcycle repair school inside the old JC Penney. Even the theaters are closed. I often wonder if the students at that school ride the motorcycles they’re repairing inside the dead mall to test them.

    [Reply]

  278. I well remember when Randall opened; I believe my first trip there was probably within a week or so after it first opened. My main infatuation with the mall was always the ramps: I wanted to take my roller skates to the mall and skate on those ramps!! Yes, I’m 42 now, but a big part of me would still really really like to skate up & down those damn ramps! (yes, I was like Tootie for some time back in the day.)

    Though I did work in retail for a few years into my early 20s, I never worked at Randall, most likely due to the distance from my Cleveland Heights home and the lingering stories of the fights and riots and violence I had heard every Monday morning while waiting for the RTA bus to take me to high school. That knowledge certainly didn’t stop me from shopping there and/or visiting friends that did work there, mostly at Dillards. As the mall’s social issues unfortunately increased, however, and stores’ business dwindled to the point of unsustainability, my own time at Randall eventually came to a gradual end. With no friends to visit and with no stores to patronize, there was no real reason for me to be there.

    For the record, the only operating establishments within what would be considered to be the “mall” are the Ohio Technical College (in the old JCPenney) and the frequently mentioned furniture liquidation store – but i think their days/hours of operation depend on the phases on the moon. ;-)

    As a professional in the commercial retail real estate business since the mid-1990s, I have had a different perspective on the retail business. Like other dead malls and strip centers in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton market, Randall (and its outparcels) are always a difficult sell. We watch as the same types of business inevitably move into the same type of depressed ares: check cashing/payday loan, cheap grocers, cheap electronics, nail salons, etc. And we watch as what had been 100,000 square foot Toys R Us stores sit vacant for years on end, with not a buyer in sight.

    Contrary to popular belief, the immediate area is not 100% African-American: according to the 2000 census, within approximately 1 mile, there are about 11,000 people, approximately 80% Afr-Am, with a median household income of approximately $46,000. No, it’s not Beverly Hills, but it’s also not a stereotypical poor black ghetto that a lot of people would like to make it out to be.

    Warrensville Heights, to the immediate north, has recently taken strides to improve upon the vacancy left decades ago by Zayre’s on Northfield Road: they razed the old building and have built a new city center within the past 18-months, complete with a new YMCA, public library, and City-owned rec center. (My only issue with this site is that it is directly east of the Thistledown stables…not a good place to be in the summertime.) Granted, North Randall is an extremely small community (0.8 square miles, with a total population of 906, as of the 2000 census). North Randall could never conceivably do something that Warrensville Heights just did. But the re-purposing of vacant retail is what North Randall definitely needs to permit to happen, both at Randall Mall and at every othe major vacancy within its little borders.

    [Reply]

    Edie Reply:

    @cee_major, I have been in real estate for over 20 years as well. I also worked at Randall Park Mall from 1983-1989. The mall business was robust to say the least during that time.

    However, I found out that many (if not most) of the original tenants had initially signed 15 year leases. That would take them into the early 90′s before it was time to renew. Well, by then the retail business was already on the decline. I also found out that DeBartolo had increased their rents 3-fold. For any business that is a tough increase to swallow, especially when your business is declining. That is when I noticed that mail start loosing tenants at a greater rate.

    It is my opinion that landlords are their own worse enemies. Greed always destroys something good. It was the same for the Flats in Cleveland. This discussion could go on for ever. Landlords, economic conditions, changing demographics, technology, security, etc. will continue to dictate the success or failure of any commercial development anywhere.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Edie, As a RE agent, I think you are also aware of the population migration away from some suburbs back to the city. I’m not sure how much of that trend applies to Cleveland, but it’s something to think about in regards to retail trends.

    [Reply]

    Rich Reply:

    @SEAN, There’s been a slow trickle since the 70s, but nothing on the scale needed to re-enliven the city on a big scale. During the oil shock, when many urban neighborhoods got infusions of new residents, it was Cleveland’s more architecturally significant older , inner suburbs that benefited. Cleveland was overmalled just as the recessions of the 70s/80s hit and despite some good years later on, there was an oversupply of retail.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rich, No doubt about that. Just look at Detroit as an extreme example of the donut whole effect. Cleveland, Pittsburgh & Indianapolis have either have or are still dealing with the donut whole problem.

    [Reply]

  279. the building was a holiday inn i found some pics of when it was open.credit to the other sites i take them from.
    http://artinruins.com/arch/stillinuse/holidayinn/images/01.jpg
    http://hotelsharbor.com/photos/Ohio/Macedonia/ohio_macedonia_holiday_inn_cleveland_s_independence/holiday_inn_cleveland_s_independence_macedonia_4.jpg

    [Reply]

    Chase Reply:

    @Chase,
    it was also a days hotel
    http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/abandoned_hotel_in_ohio.htm

    [Reply]

    SP Reply:

    @Chase, That Holiday Inn is actually in Providence,RI. That hotel is actually now a Hilton.

    The reason I know:
    1)The brick tower on the left is the Westin hotel
    2)I went to school in RI
    3)I lived right near that hotel
    4)It was actually built long before that picture was taken,it looks like it was being renovated(or perhaps converted) in that picture you found.

    [Reply]

    Rich Reply:

    @SP, The questions about the hotel have been answered about half a dozen times over, just scroll up.

    [Reply]

  280. Does anyone remember the El Dorado restaurant on Northfield Road? Or the Northfield Star Drive In? There was also the East Side Drive in and the Miles
    Drive In. I was thinking Northfield Star was toward the Randall Park Mall but that was the East Side. Anyone have any pictures of any of these?

    [Reply]

    Rich Reply:

    @darlene, Cinema Treasures has answers:

    The east Side was across from Thistledown: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6861

    The Northfield Star was in Northfield–miles away: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6860

    [Reply]

  281. I was just at this frightening place yesterday. I didn’t intend to go there, but found myself with time to kill in the area and thought I’d get the lay of the land. I saw signs for Thistledown, and thought ‘hey, I ought to see what that place looks like these days’, having been a groom in the late 80s.
    When I saw the giant abandonded mall across the street, I was so startled. I don’t ever have any reason to be in the area, and had no idea the mall had failed.
    It was awful. Like a set from a zombie movie or something, the trees and weeds in the parking lot gave me the creeps as I drove up to what was obviously an abandoned theater, and took a closer look.
    I got out of the car and peered in the windows, and man, I’m getting chills as I write this – the lobby of the movie theater is seriously spooky. Snack bars are still there, but some stuff looks crooked, or slightly ‘off” – like in a scary movie. I didn’t stay long – but got in my car and drove around the perimeter of the mall which is barricaded off in most places.
    So so sad.

    I’d been in the Rolling Acres mall within the past few years, which almost made me cry. I remember shopping there at Christmastime, it was truly an ‘event’ to take the bus to that mall and just think I was so grown up to go by myself to the mall with the $50 from my Christmas Club account.

    Man, it makes me so depressed to think of these failed places.

    [Reply]

    dawn Reply:

    @T Hershey, Randall Park Mall is a sad story some of my most fun jobs were in that mall . I don’t think who was shopping had anything to do with the mall closing but who the stores catered to … By 2000 everything was urban wear and i am an African-American but I was too old for all the urban wear so once Dillards left I too stopped even going to the mall and became a Beachwood shopper . I miss the mall of the 80′s and 90′s.

    [Reply]

  282. I went to Cam’s Asian Market last week. It’s in the old Toys R Us building, across Miles Ave from RPM. Virtually ALL the businesses in the area are gone. It’s all vacant buildings, not just RPM! That whole area has been abandoned.

    [Reply]

  283. The Building on the corner is The Old Holiday Inn I stayed there when i came home from the Airforce, It was my first hotel room I paid to stay in

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  284. I worked at the Jos. Horne Co. when I came home on summer vacations and Christmas breaks for several years. Last time I was there, they had closed off the third floor where the administrative offices, furniture, kitchen and linens departments were; the restaurant on that floor had closed long ago. At that time, the huge 3 story chandelier was in the process of being taken down in the middle of the store. It looks like (from the facade) The Burlington Coat Factory took over the old Horne store.

    Even in its heyday, the mall was never 100% occupied, but I used to love the 3(!) bookstores, World Bazaar, and all the other funky little shops tucked into the corners. I saw Star Wars at the cinema there when it first opened. My friends and I used to spend many weekends roaming the mall, buying school clothes and hanging out. We used to call the hanging sculpture in the middle of the concourse “Flying Window Screens”. I have a lot of good memories of that mall, and am sorry it is dying a slow ignominious death.

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  285. I remember when Randall Park Mall opened…I went with my grandma and her friends. It really was someting to see back then – there was nothing else like it. so sad it is empty now. Some neighborhoods just can’t have anything nice. They just want to ruin everything and then blame ‘the man’ tsk tsk tsk smh!

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  286. Everything in that neighborhood is closed down. Southgate Shopping Center is virtually empty too. All the big electronic/appliance stores are closed. There’s nothing left except my Asian grocery!

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  287. I worked at randall park mall in the early 90′s. Its sad casue back then it was thriving, packed every weekend no place to park. The problem with the mall was the gangs and lowlifes that got kicked out of the good malls ended up at randall. When i started mall security, yes the mall cops, were armed and taking charge with constant interaction with the neighboring randall police department. Shoplifting arrests daily, fights in the mall, fights in the parking lot, riots inside the mall. I couldnt say how many times the cops had to flood in with nightsticks and pepper spray. Every night you would have to start at one end of the mall and clear it with ass draggers complaining and arguing the whole way. Probably the only mall were a santa elf was arrested for assaulting a customer. The easter bunny was also physically removed one time. As soon as they changed over the mall manager about 1995 the place went to shit. The first thing he did was disarm security, they went from packing high cap 9mm to 1 percent pepper spray. All the gang members still brought there guns while shopping and there was at least one shooting in the parking lot over a space after security was disarmed. So they wanted to be politically correct and ended up giving up the mall to lowlifes. Now the mall is a wasteland with only one business remaining open outside of the mall. Its really sad, i grew up in the 70′s when malls were packed and thriving with business it to bad thats a thing of the past.

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  288. Almost 340 comments and no one comments that the original set of pictures caught an exterminator at work, complete with gas mask?
    if that doesn’t say ‘run’ to you… and I have a high tolerance for all kinds of mall shenanigans.

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  289. At this point, I don’t recall whether or not I noticed the exterminator or not. However, having worked in retail, hospitality, and now real estate for as long as I have, I see no problem with an exterminator at work. Wherever there are people, there is going to be our trash – in all sorts of forms. And guess what: critters love our trash. And as long as we’re squeamish about said critters, exterminators are going to be necessary. It’s a fact of life, unfortunately.

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  290. I went to Cam’s Asian Market yesterday. It’s across the street from Randall, in the mostly vacant Toys R Us building. Lots of empty buildings all around.

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  291. I worked at the theater from 1977 until 1985 when I transferred to another unit. At first, the mall was a great place to work because it was truly a city within a city. In the early 80′s, however, things began to change. Gangs roamed the place thanks to RTA dumping them off at the front door en-mass, smaller stores began to close, and the quality of mall upkeep began to slip. I recall an incident where two theater patrons pulled guns on one another during a movie and no one in the audience bothered to tell us. That’s how accustomed they were to the senseless violence. I knew then it was time to get out.
    Today, I feel sad for the mall. It was touted as the largest in the world and today, it’s nothing more than a giant white elephant…

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