First off, sorry for not posting a dead mall blog in May. I've been super busy lately. Anyway, the choice for June's mall was an easy one. Even though it closed July 1, 2015, I haven't been inside Granite Run for over a year. My last visit was May 30 of last year which was also Modell's (a sporting goods chain) last day there. There weren't many tenants left by that point, a dozen at the most. But amazingly, the fountain was still running as were all the escalators. In fact, I made several visits in the mall's final months and I was also there for Chick-fil-A's last day. Ironically this was the very first Chick-fil-A to open in Pennsylvania.
The collapse of Granite Run Mall came as a surprise to me. Unlike other malls which closed in recent years, I saw no early signs of major trouble. There were anecdotal reports of vacancies around 2007 so I paid a visit. But it was still pretty well occupied with all the standard mall chains. I guess the recession which took hold the following year is what did the damage because by 2011 Simon walked away from the property, turning it over to its lender.
The next year or two saw an increase in offbeat and unusual tenants including a short-lived dinosaur museum. Sadly, I never got to visit it. They also did this weird "I'm beautiful on the inside" campaign to try and drum up business. The mall would change hands a couple more times as foot traffic and stores continued to decline. Finally it would up in the possession of Toll Brothers which specializes in suburban residential developments who announced a new mixed use complex of apartments and stores would replace the mall. Granite Run was originally scheduled to close at the end of 2014 but interior access and occupancy lasted six additional months. Two of the three remaining anchors, Sears and Boscov's, will be retained as standalone stores. But the third one, JCPenney, closed in April of 2015 so Toll decided to raze it as well.
Here is Dan Bell's piece on GRM during its last months of business.
And here is footage of GRM being razed. It's still hard for me to believe it's going, going, gone!
Finally here's some drone footage of the mall in mid-demolition with a big hole where JCP used to be.
Again, of the many malls around Philly, I didn't foresee this one getting the ax. 10 or 15 years ago, GRM was in better shape than Springfield Mall which is about seven miles up US 1. Springfield had lost one of its anchors, had no food court, no mall restrooms (customers had to use the department stores facilities if needed) and nagging vacancies. GRM looked more vibrant at the time. But rather then let it die, Springfield's owners, Simon and PREIT, undertook a major renovation. They also brought in Target as a new anchor. The effort paid off and today Springfield is a success story while GRM is being bulldozed. Oh well, at least Springfield has light rail service. :/