PARMATOWN MALL: PARMA, OH
Chelsey Kovar's Commentary
User Submitted February 6, 2012
The Parmatown Mall opened as a shopping plaza in 1956 and was enclosed in the mid 1960s. Its original anchors were JCPenney, Higbee's, and May Company.
Higbee's became Dillard's in 1992, and closed in 2000. The Dillard's structure was demolished and replaced with a Wal-Mart in 2004 that was attached to the mall. May Company became Kaufmann's in 1992 and Kaufmann's became Macy's in 2006.
The 288,000-square-foot Parmatown Macy's, opened in 1960, is both the largest and oldest store that the Cincinnati-based Macy's department store chain is closing. The Macy's announcement in early 2012 to close this location was not a shock. The store was old, dirty, and way too big for the lack of merchandise it had. Most Macy's have higher end brands and the Parmatown store had off brands you don't see in their glamorous commercials. It had about 20 cosmetic counters, half of which were empty. New Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter agreed that it was not surprising to hear that Macy’s is leaving, especially after Parmatown went into receivership last summer. Parmatown Mall Manager Dave Browning said on Jan. 4 that the closing has been expected and that Macy's departure would open the door to new opportunities for the mall. He said there are plans to redevelop and reconfigure the mall. “Macy’s leaving Parmatown is genuinely is not a bad thing, the ultimate goal of the receiver is to get this thing redeveloped, like they did at Westgate.” Westgate is a former mall, in Fairview Park and Rocky River, that was demolished & transformed into an outdoor retail center. Browning has stated that Westgate is a possible model for Parmatown.
As of January 2012, it was not known when Parmatown would go on sale. Last year, then-Mayor Dean DePiero said it would happen in 2012. However, Callahan said it is up to Parmatown’s mortgage lender, Midland Loan Services, to decide when to place the mall on sale. It was Midland, a division of PNC Bank, which last summer asked Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court appoint a receiver for Parmatown. “The receiver is trying to work with the lender to agree on a sale procedure,” Callahan said. “We need their (Midland’s) permission and we haven’t got that yet.” Callahan believes Parmatown will remain a retail center of some sorts. He said other anchor tenants there have expressed commitment to staying but he did not know if they had signed leases.
The Website for Parmatown mall has not been updated since 2005 and holds tons of false information. It focuses on Parmatowns beautiful fountains that have been gone for years. There are pictures of benches and plants under 'Photos of renovations'. It states "Macy's, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods and 150 distinctive stores and restaurants are surrounded by a beautiful new setting filled with splashing fountains, abundant skylights and lush tropical greenery. Parmatown offers enjoyable shopping experiences, state-of-the-art services and a variety of entertainment options." None of which is true. The mall has not been updated, unless you count closing countless stores and taking out fountains from 1980. There are more closed and empty spaces than open ones. Nowhere near 150 stores, even if you count the Antonio's shopping plaza next door. The Dick's/Walmart wing of the mall holds a nail salon, a shoe store and a mom and pop retail store in the old DEB location. It looks like a flea market bazaar. Dick's is located a ways down a long hallway filled with advertisements on walls where storefronts used to be. Walmart is at the end and attached to the mall. Shopping carts are not allowed from Walmart into the mall, but that doesn't stop people.
When the Walmart opened up in 2004, many stores left the mall. Stores have kept leaving one by one, either due to the lack of sales, lease agreements and greedy parmatown mall or other stipulations in the lease. Express was looking to negotiate their contract and Parmatown wanted to raise their rent. Express said no, the sales were not worth it, but still wanted to stay. Parmatown told them their rent was increased or they could move, because DEB wanted their space. They let Express walk and another store was gone from the mall. A similar situation happened with Pacific Sunwear which was recently remodeled. The store had a clause in their lease that allowed them to leave the mall if there were more closed stores than open ones. Parmatown has been that way for a while. I believe that is why they put a wall of advertisements in the Dick's/Walmart wing, because they are now not empty stores, they are advertisements.
Stores one by one keep dropping from the mall and with no ownership and the Mall for sale, the city is worried. The mall manager left in 2011 and they made the maintenance director the mall manager. The marketing director left in 2011 also and the secretary of the mall became the new marketing manager.
People are scared to walk into the Dick's wing and the YMCA Express wing, they don't even turn all of the lights on in these areas because there are hardly any stores.