A few weeks ago I started talking about my day trip up to Vermont, and then I uhh, stopped. Sorry about that. Let’s pick back up at University Mall in South Burlington, which is the largest enclosed mall in Vermont.
Of course, this being Vermont and not Los Angeles, the claim of being the state’s largest mall doesn’t mean it’s terribly large. With about 607,000 square feet and around 70 stores, the University Mall is only moderately-sized by most standards. Located on Dorset Street just off I-89, I’m guessing the University Mall was built sometime in the 1970s or early 1980s but renovated within the last five or six years. I visited only once before, in 2000, and I remember it being quite a bit different. Since then it’s been given a new, bright color scheme, and some of the tenants have changed.
University Mall is a decidedly suburban, middle-income suburban mall, with Sears, The Bon-Ton, JCPenney, and Kohl’s as anchor stores. The Bon-Ton store was one of New England’s few Steinbach locations until the chain folded in the 1990s, and the Kohl’s store was an Ames until that chain folded in 2002. The mall is organized in a long “L” shape, with high ceilings and wide corridors. For the most part, the decor is very pleasant and attractive, with a bit of a modern Starbucks/Pottery Barn scheme (complete with cushy couches in faux living room arrangements) that a lot of malls seem to be employing nowadays. My favorite architectural features are the high, sloping rooflines that housed long windows and the brightly-colored honeycomb ceilings in the mall’s largest court, near Sears.
Burlington is a small city, with a population of around 38,000, though it is larger than it sounds because its surrounded by a large handful of sizeable suburbs. That said, it actually has two malls–both this one, and Burlington Town Center in downtown Burlington. University Mall seems to have some of the more suburban tenants while many of the higher-end fashion retailers seem to have migrated towards the city’s center.
Incidentally, there used to be a third mall in the Burlington area: the curiously named Mall 189, located in South Burlington at the junction of US-7 and I-189. Anchored by a TJMaxx and housing under 200,000 square feet of floor space, it died sometime in the late 1990s. If you have information or pictures from when it was alive, I’d love to hear from you.