Yes, you saw right. That’s a working oil well in the middle of a mall parking lot.
Opened in February 1974 at one of the busiest freeway intersections in Oklahoma City, Crossroads Mall was and is still the largest mall in the state of Oklahoma. Not only does the mall anchor the large retail strip surrounding it, but it attracts shoppers from all over the area south of downtown and north of the large retail strips in Norman. The mall has over over 125 stores on two levels with four anchor pads. Currently, three of them are occupied by Macy’s (formerly Foley’s until 2006), Dillard’s, and Steve and Barry’s, which opened in 2004 replacing Montgomery Ward which closed in 2001. JCPenney held the fourth anchor spot until earlier this Summer (2007) when it closed, deciding to instead open new standalone stores in nearby Norman and Midwest City.
Recently, in January 2007, long-time owner Macerich Company unloaded the mall onto an Arkansas-based firm. Prior to selling the mall, Macerich did some minor renovations to the interior of the mall and helped in anchor placement. These included adding a large children’s play area and a full-sized carousel, in addition to wooing the state’s first Steve and Barry’s location to replace the vacant Wards.
In addition to losing an anchor this summer and in light of competition, this center is still mostly viable. But occupancy has dwindled, and the mall has not experienced as much popularity as Quail Springs or Penn Square across town. Neither, though, has it fallen flat on its face and become a completely dead mall like Heritage Park and Shepherd Malls elsewhere in the metro. Instead, Crossroads Mall is treading water, attempting to stay afloat in a seemingly saturated market.
Aside from competition, the interior of Crossroads Mall is showing some age. While receiving some minor renovations under Macerich, much of the two-level mall is quite dated, including several original circa 1975 stores such as Orange Julius. Case full of plastic oranges anyone? The new owners will have to either learn to contend with the mall’s age, or use some capital to renovate the center in hopes of a resurrection to a top-tier destination. Alternately, they may choose to capitalize on the downfall of the enclosed trend and use the recently-vacated JCPenney to embark on the ever-popular “Lifestyle Wing” – featuring Coldwater Creek and more! But seriously, even more issues exist which may thwart redevelopment and the mall’s success, such as ODOT’s plans to reconfigure the I-40/I-240 interchange in front of the mall. Ironically, this interchange is one of the mall’s biggest assets yet due to the construction becomes its greatest downfall because the reconstruction project will last seven years.
And finally, of greatest interest to me and probably anyone else not from Oklahoma or Texas, is the fact that there is a working oil well in the north parking lot of Crossroads Mall, whirring away in front of Macys. Take a look at some of the pictures for a visual of this. The whirring of the well as it pumps is the only thing you hear on this side of the parking lot; it’s simultaneously cool and eerie. Also, take a look at the other pictures and leave your own comments too.