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DEADMALLS.COM PRESENTS
                BILTMORE SQUARE: ASHEVILLE, NC

Doug's Commentary

Posted April 24, 2011 (user submitted)

The Biltmore Square mall has gone very much downhill since the 2006 commentaries in the feature. One by one, most of the big-name stores have closed, and many of them sit vacant. Among the stores that have now left the mall: FYE, Goody's, Waldenbooks, Hallmark, Sbarro, GameStop, and I'm sure there are others that I am forgetting about. Radio Shack still remains, but we shall see for how long. Steve & Barry's closed some time ago, and that site is now occupied by the Davis Furniture Mega-Store, a large furniture outlet store. There is also a Davis Clothing Outlet store located across from the furniture store. Since the last update on this site, even the "Hospice Treasures" store has closed, which is really not a good sign.

Amazingly, there are still 6 restaurants in the food court. All of them appear to be locally owned, not chain restaurants, except for Chick-Fil-A. There is a Chinese place that used to be a Manchu Wok, and still looks like it is, but the sign now says Beijing Wok.

The only anchor store that survives is Belk, and the last time I was there (January 2011), a large section of the store had been closed off, and it looked like there was a lot less merchandise on display. Dillard's is still in the mall, in name at least. The Dillard's store is actually some sort of Dillard's clearance store full of racks of unorganized clothing.

The mall is really starting to become something quite bizarre these days. Mixed in among the few "big-name" stores are several locally-owned shops, as well as a gymnastics center, a karate center, and a place called "Asheville Raceway" that has slot-car racing & arcade games, and hosts birthday parties and the like.

The movie theater, which now serves dinner while you watch your movie, appears to still be doing well. The theater, the Dollar Tree store, Davis Furniture, Belk, and the food court seem to be the main hubs of activity in the mall now, but from the looks of things, it doesn't look like this mall will be around much longer. That is a true shame, as it has always been in a location that is much easier to get to than the Asheville Mall.

Alpha's Commentary

Posted December 2, 2006 (user submitted)

Biltmore Square Mall was constructed in 1989, though I do not believe by Simon (though I cannot garuntee this.) It was built south of Asheville and was intended to compete with the much larger (nowadays, at least) Asheville Mall. My guess is that it was intended to be a moderately upscale destination for those looking to avoid the congestion of Asheville Mall. Certainly, compared to Asheville Mall it is simple, easy to get to, and elegant.

The Mall is a loose "(" shape, curving enough to make you think it is slightly larger than it is. There were 3 anchors- Dillard's on one end, Belk in the middle right off of the center court, and Proffit's on the end. A food court and "Goody's" are placed opposite of eachother halfway in between the middle and side anchors- all in all a simple layout. The mall should've been pretty successful.

When I first visited Biltmore Square in 2004, it was still owned by Simon properties group. It still had its 3 major and 1 minor anchors, and seemed to be a fairly successful "B" mall, though the slow pace of the mall was obvious. It had its share of empty storefronts, but wasn't in dire condition.

Since then, Belk acquired Proffit's and decided to move to their store. Belk closed their original location, leaving a gaping anchor tenant in the middle. Simon sold the mall to a holding company, and the mall lost a few tenants.

Recently, the mall was purchased by developers who plan on giving it a much needed shot in the arm. Steve & Barry's university sportsware has been signed to replace the old Belk's location, and the cinemas plans on rennovating. Currently, I'd say about half of the mall is "alive," and half of the mall is "dead." From the center court on to Belk, the mall is in dire condition. From the center court to Dillard's, you'd almost believe the mall was keeping its head above water- even a few chain stores remain.

Given that it's a reasonably attractive (though bland) mall, why is it failing?

Biltmore Square never appears to have gathered enough momentum to make it a shopping destination. There's a small strip across the street, and next to it is a fairly decently sized strip mall, but it's no "Big Box" destination (which unfortunately occured the NEXT exit down on I-26.)

Part of this is because the mall is small and feels as though it was built on the cheap. The mall could probably hold about 60 stores in its prime. Most of the mall is fairly bland and nondescript, though attractive. With the exception of the skylights in the food court, there's nothing all-too-interesting architecturally, though I found the stone sculptures to be really impressive (especially those in the Proffit's wing.)

As far as malls go, this one tries to follow the cookie cutter formula, but seems to get a lot of the small details wrong. The two side corridors (if you can even call them that) to enter the mall from the outside are short and sadly nondescript. The main corridor just seems to end at each anchor store without any sort of prominent termination. Where almost all one-story malls I've been in have some sort of feature and the end of a concourse (if nothing else, really prominent anchor signage) , Biltmore Square's hallways just end. It's especially awkward on the Dillard's end due to the mirrored signage (it feels as thought it sneaks up on you) , but if someone wasn't paying attention I think it'd be easy for them to simply walk into the store by accident (if entrance wasn't so difficult due to those display cases in the way.)

Perhaps the most crippling decision is that to keep the mall at one story- even the department stores are only one story (which really says something about the mall's condition when Belk doesn't have enough faith to keep two half-stores open.) A second story would put this mall in the running, as it needs to expand and/or remodel soon to give it more of a draw.

While it has a lot of room to expand, some original design flaws seem to be keeping this mall hindered down, which brings up the very fair question "Why was it built in the first place." However, some new owners have vision. If they can keep Biltmore Square alive for about 8 more years, I think it'll be a success, but the mall is going to require some retooling to liven its pulse.

Phoenix's Commentary

Posted April 29, 2006 (user submitted)

I have been waiting for a very long time for this mall to become "dead enough" to submit commentary for. Now in its final stages of retail failure, I think there is enough room in our deadmall closets for just one more family member: Biltmore Square in Asheville, NC.

This sounds clich‚, but this mall should have never been constructed. I truly have no earthly idea why Simon would build a smaller and less attractive mall in comparison to the super regional Asheville Mall 5 miles to the north in a less densely travelled location with weaker original tenants and all-around bad planning.

The Biltmore Square was built, quite pointlessly I may add, by Simon in 1989, just about 5 miles to the south of the massive million square foot CBL-owned retail structure, The Asheville Mall on Tunnel Road. I am not entirely positive what the first anchors were, but when I first visited the mall, the anchors were Proffitt's (all of my entries seem to have that infamous little division of Saks), JC Penney, Belk, Dillard's, and the Southern discount jewel, Goody's. The mall consisted of 60- stores and was laid out in a very modern but rather boring cross-shaped layout with one anchor at each tip of the cross and Goody's near Belk on the eastern end. The food court, though small, consisted of many popular tenants like Chick-fil-A, Blimpie, and Sbarro.

I cannot honestly say what went wrong with this mall other than it was too far out of anyone's way to be of any proper use. Sure, the property was on a busy intersection formed by an interstate exit, but, really, if you're "in the neighborhood" of a small, lackluster mall and a large, more upscale mall with more entertainment venues and more shopping options, which would YOU choose? My personal choice is clear.

This mall, should NOT have been built in the first place, and perhaps Simon's smartest move with the mall yet has been recently selling it to another company: perhaps one that can give a midget mall the growth spurt vital to its existence as a successful commercial property.

Chris's Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

I visited this mall for the first time after seeing it on deadmalls.com. It is an attractive mall typical of its time period, with white tile floors and teal, pink and other classic late-1980s colors.

This mall does not appear as hopeless as some other malls on this site, since at least it has its Belk, Dillard's and Goody's anchors in place, a location that appears decent although not thriving, a decent physical condition, a few remaining national chain tenants, such as Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Kay Jewelers and a decent food court, with the mandatory Chick-fil-A.

However, its in-line shop space has a moderately high vacancy rate, an empty anchor right at the center of the mall, in full sight of cars driving into the parking lot, and some C-grade stores, such as "Hospice Treasures" (apparently a hospital thrift store), "The Corn Husk Shoppe" (which seems to sell various knick-knacks made of corn parts), various patio furniture and airbrushed art stores, and more.

Since mall owners typically make money on the in-line tenants, this mall must be a financial drain, since stores that sell corn-related products and airbrushed T-shirts probably cannot pay the same high rents that a Banana Republic or the like could. Accordingly, Simon Properties ditched this mall and transferred it over to a new owner. With the positive attributes described above, hopefully this mall will have a future.










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