Saturday, April 4, 2009

East Town Mall: Past, Present and Future (Part Two): The Missing Skylight

East Town Mall's layout has changed radically since its opening 1982, having been through a few renovations since the late 1990s, a few years after Prange Way went under. As you can tell by the pictures below, you can see that a diagonal seating court has been removed, in order to give Office Max some space in the mall. The parallelogram-shaped skylight has been boarded up, but the top of it can still be seen in aerial photographs of the mall itself.
The skylight which was sealed up during the mall's big makeover in the late 1990s,
inside Office Max. The tiles were cut off before Office Max.

The two pictures above show what remains of the gutted seating court before Prange Way's entrance.

I hope all of you enjoyed the second part of my blog about East Town Mall. Stay tuned for Part Three.


  1. Another thing that changed at that end of the mall is the exterior frontage. There was once entranceway that looked similar to the main entrance (the one with the East Town sign), just in a smaller form, and it was crammed right between Prange Way's east wall and the first small in-line tenant space that...the 'tenant line' angling up to Office Max's interior wall going parallel with the floor line (as seen in the third pic).

    1997-1998 was the time when the mall got its first significant reconfiguration. While Prange Way was out, Toy Works was in (them, along with Fashion Bug morphing into a full-line store, wanted outside entrances, so the front (Mason St. facing) wall was bumped out and new exterior entries put in. FYI: You can tell where the bump-out is if you look closely to the right of the main entrance...see where the wall is lighter...that's the modified wall), and Kohl's further kept their commitment to stick around by taking over Prange Way's old space (they needed more room and a newer store anyhow), doing a total inside-and-out remodel. You can't even tell what used to be there anymore, unless you've been to the mall since the days prior to Prange Way's closure.

    The final phase of this three-phase reconfiguration entailed Office Max and Dollar Tree. The latter ate up 4 much smaller shops, the former, eating up the entirety of that seating court and another half-dozen inline spaces. Office Max also gained enterior access via the new entrance build out, which serves as the mall's new west entry.

    That Kohl's sign had me fooled I thought THAT end of the mall was where Kohl's originally was. Until I seen other stores like the Hobby Lobby up at this mall, bearing the Kohl's script in white above the outside entrance. That's how I came up with the idea that they pulled the interior mall sign down from Kohls' original space and just relocated it to where it is now.

    I didn't get up to the mall until all these modifications were made to it.

    Was the cinema there as long as you can recall? They take up quite a slice of the east (Kohl's / Hobby Lobby) wing, and to me, doesn't look like it was originally there. It's just too odd of a way to build out a multi-screen movie complex.

  2. I think the fact that most long-standing malls have phased out the accouterments that used to be amongst their primary characteristics (skylights, large seating areas, etc.) is a major example of the changing mall paradigm in terms of its "modern" role versus its original one as more of a social gathering place than a strictly retail establishment. Most any mall nowadays (well-tenanted ones, at least) have replaced their communal areas with horrible kiosks selling junky what-have you (Labelscar did a great piece on kiosks a while back). The mall is no longer the "family gathering place" that it once was; instead, it is solely a piece of real estate meant to be utilized for as much commercial gain as possible, and, from a business standpoint, crappy kiosks (or large stores, such as Office Max) make money, while people sitting around having a chat or eating some takeout do not generate immediate or direct income for the mall.

    Back in the day, a mall was a place where you could spend all day, socializing, shopping (or window-shopping, if preferred), eating (breakfast, lunch, dinner) was all encompassed in this one space. Nowadays, it is simply a retail place, and while that is not necessarily a "bad" thing (certainly not from a business standpoint), it is saddening on at least a nostalgic level, in that the mall of yore simply does not exist in the world of today.

    I didn't mean to write a dissertation on your blog, any rate, this is a good read, and I've added it to my blog subscriptions so I can try and keep up (this is Kendra from the Ames forums, btw)...

  3. A mall is a place where you could spend all day...Great to visit malls..

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