Crossroads Mall; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Crossroads Mall oil well in Oklahoma City, OK

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.   

Crossroads Mall directory in Oklahoma City, OKRecently, 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.

Crossroads Mall in Oklahoma City, OK Crossroads Mall in Oklahoma City, OK

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. 

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Heritage Park Mall; Midwest City, Oklahoma


Midwest City, Oklahoma is a decidedly blue-collar suburb of Oklahoma City with about 54,000 residents, located to the east of downtown and sprawled out roughly along I-40.  Over the years its economy has had its ups and downs, but as of recently has sort of been in the toilet aside from the saving grace of Tinker Air Force Base which provides the region’s economic base.  General Motors closed its Oklahoma City assembly facility in 2006, and numerous businesses left the area about 20 years ago during the Oklahoma oil bust of 1983, when the economy of the entire region deflated rapidly and dramatically.  Though some areas around Oklahoma City have re-emerged successful through the service industry and technology sector, the east side of the metro has fared decidedly worse than the expanding north, west, and south metro areas.

heritage-park-mall-04.jpgOne of the major retail corridors of Midwest City is Reno Avenue, which runs directly east from downtown Oklahoma City and further east off into the boonies.  At just over 600,000 square feet, Heritage Park Mall anchors this retail strip in Midwest City, and it opened in the 1970s.  I have one source which tells me 1971, and another which says 1978 – which is it?  Heritage Park had a fair amount of success in the 1970s and 1980s, as super-regional malls like Quail Springs and Penn Square weren’t as dominant and the local economy wasn’t in dire straits. 

As the 1990s progressed, Heritage Park started to show its age.  Lacking renovation, stores started to flee the mall in alarming numbers.  The rear anchor Wilson’s became replaced by Service Merchandise, and at least the anchor stores were safe for a while.  However, the bottom dropped out at the end of the decade when Montgomery Ward left the mall during a round of bankruptcy closures in 1999, and Service Merchandise left in 2000 for the same reason.  This left 2 gaping anchor holes at the mall, and the 200,000 square feet of inline space began to bleed tenants.  Also in the 1990s, Penn Square Mall on Oklahoma City’s well-to-do north side and Quail Springs Mall in the sprawling far northwest area of the city repositioned themselves as top-tier destination malls, stealing shoppers and therefore tenants from all other OKC-area malls, save for the far-flung ones in Shawnee and Norman. 

heritage-park-mall-08.jpgSince 2000, Heritage Park’s fortunes have really gone south.  The mall not only has a vacancy problem, but is extremely dated, having not been significantly renovated since the 1970s.  Penn Square and Quail Springs continue their dominance in the area, so Heritage Park’s management has had to make one of two decisions.  Either redevelop the mall and make a converted effort to reposition, or do absolutely nothing and wait for all the stores to leave.  In 2005, mall owners chose the former idea, to redevelop the mall.  Citing a 33 percent vacancy rate, they determined the best way to redevelop the mall is to position big box anchors along the mall’s frontage (along Reno) and accompany them with in-line stores original to the mall’s configuration.  This would significantly lessen the number of “small stores” along the mall’s corridor, but at least it would retain some enclosed space and create a hybridized center of sorts.  It could work, if they ever get started.  As of June 2007, no work has started on this project.  As they’ve waited, Heritage Park continues to bleed stores.  In 2006, the Dillard’s location closed, leaving Sears as the lone anchor.  By the end of 2006, Heritage Park Mall was operating at 50 percent occupancy.  It won’t be long now..

The pictures featured here were shot in June 2007.  As you can see, the decor is amazingly dated, and I would venture to say the mall never received any sort of renovation, at least anything significant.  The sunken brick conversation pits, full sized trees, and the dark floor are all reminiscent of the period the mall opened.  As for the mall’s design, it’s a relatively simple straight-shot corridor connecting two anchors with the other two behind them, facing the back of the mall.  Thus, facing Reno Avenue are several mall entrances which lead directly into the mall’s main corridor.  If you have any more information about the mall, such as when it actually opened, or any other anecdotal notes, feel free to leave some comments at any time.   

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Mountain View Mall; Ardmore, Oklahoma

Mountain View Mall pylon in Ardmore, OK

Have you ever been to a traditional Hoe-Down? If you answered ‘yes’, have you been to a traditional Hoe-Down inside of a mall? Mountain View Mall in Ardmore, Oklahoma hosts regular Hoe-Downs in the mall’s hallway during the mall’s opening hours. There’s also frequent live entertainment (mostly country and folk music) and every year the city of Ardmore holds its birthday party in the mall and offers up free cake to anyone with a sweet tooth. Sounds like a fun place, right?

Mountain View Mall is a small, 216,000 square foot enclosed shopping mall anchored by JCPenney, Rex Audio-Video- Appliances, Stage Stores, Hobby Lobby, and Goody’s family clothing. The mall is a basic dumbell shape connecting JCPenney on the south side of the mall to Hobby Lobby on the north side. CVS/Pharmacy and Staples office supplies are attached onto JCPenney; however, neither has mall access. The mall’s ancillary stores include national chains such as Bath and Body Works, Famous Footwear, GNC, and some local stores.

Mountain View Mall old fashioned hoe-down in Ardmore, OK

As Mountain View Mall is not large, it is still the only regional enclosed mall between Oklahoma City and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Ardmore currently has about 25,000 residents and lies along the busy Interstate 35 corridor approximately halfway (100 miles to each) between Dallas-Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. The largest city along the corridor, Ardmore has grown to be a the commercial haven for southern Oklahomans who don’t want to trek all the way to Denton for a better mall. In addition, Ardmore has a very successful, quaint downtown as well as a new big box center in the works called Ardmore Commons.

Recently, the mall was purchased by Dallas area-based commercial developer Burk Collins & Company. The developer has made a promise to update the mall with bigger skylights, more stores, and even divulged it was in talks to bring popular retailer Old Navy to the mall. Mountain View Mall will also receive public restrooms for the first time. Wow!

Take a look at these photos I captured of Mountain View Mall in July 2005. Note the dated decor and although the mall is only 217,000 square feet, it definitely felt a bit larger. The Hoe-Downs and community spirit throughout the center reinforce that the mall is definitely not forgotten or even close to being a dead mall. It thrives as both a retail and community gathering place, and hopefully the developers will realize the potential of the mall and max it out instead of allowing the mall to lie fallow. Do you have anything to add here? Maybe you know more about specific stores that have been in the mall throughout its history, or even some important dates. Feel free to leave a comment or two and let us know!

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