SOUTHLAND MALL: MARION, OH
Blake Hutchison's Commentary
Posted (user submitted) September 30, 2005
Another case where losing the anchors isn't the problem with the mall. The
interior stores are leaving in droves, however. Every time I visit this mall,
there's a new labelscar where a store once stood.
I believe this mall was built around 1965-1970, when Marion still had enough
people to support a mall. As far as I know, it was originally anchored by
Sears, JCPenney, and Elder Beerman. JCPenney pulled out in 2002.
The following factors have probably contributed to Southland Mall's demise:
Poor freeway access. To get to it from the nearest freeway (US 23) you
either have to drive six miles south of Marion to Bethlehem Road, and find your
way to State Route 423, then drive four or five miles back into Marion, or you
have to fight Marion traffic crossing town on State Route 95 or 309 to get to
State Route 423 (Marion's street system is also one of the WORST mazes of
one-way streets and continuous-flow ramps in the country.)
One has to question the management's competence when much of the mall smells
like mold, in some areas it's worse than Southtown Mall in Fort Wayne!
Marion has been shrinking in population steadily for the last 30 years.
There are really no other sizable cities nearby to support the mall. Shoppers
in Delaware, Ohio (the next county south of Marion) are far too trendy to shop
here, and they are closer to Columbus than they are to Marion anyway.
Old Navy has pulled out of the mall completely. And they didn't build a
replacement store. The mall is clearly hurt by Meijer and by Wal-Mart Supercenter, both of
which are within a quarter mile of US 23.
Few of the chain stores have modern logos - as if they don't want to invest
the money on a mall they're probably going to pull out of soon. Waldenbooks,
usually one of the last stores to leave a mall in Ohio, still has an old logo
from the 1980's, before they changed it.
Steve and Barry's and Sears may survive for a while, and with Elder Beerman,
who knows? But I would say the rest of the mall is likely to be shuttered, or
at least completely barren, in the next five years.
southland-mall.net/ - Mall's website.