David Kruger's Commentary:

Posted April 29, 2006 (user submitted)

Southroads opened in 1966, with JCPenney (relocated from downtown South Omaha), Woolworth's, and Brandeis (a local upscale chain which would later be bought out and converted to Younkers). Most of the older Younkers stores around Omaha were originally Brandeis stores. Around the same time, Sears opened a free-standing department store just across from the Southroads parking lot. Southroads was built into the slope of a bluff, and the dark interior always reminded me of the mall used in George Romero's original "Dawn of the Dead". The JCPenney store was nearly identical to the one in the film. Southroads was dated, but still a nice 2-level mall that was certainly in good shape and busy as recently as Christmas 1990, just before the Kennedy Freeway was completed and Oak View Mall opened.

Without question, the Kennedy Freeway completion in the early 1990's starved Southroads, as Mark suggested. The entire 13th Street/Fort Crook Road business corridor, Southroads Mall and all, has become forgotten and blighted as a result of being bypassed. Viable chain restaurants have closed and sit empty, as does a fairly new and large Kmart. Woolworth's closure was handled fairly well, with a fitness center nicely taking its place. But the Mall never recovered from Younkers pulling out. In 1999, JCPenney likely turned their 2-level store into a clearance "outlet" to ride out their lease until 2003, when they opted to pull out of Southroads for good. I was able to get some of the store signing from this JCPenney store after it closed, since it was the 60's era "Penney's" logo that was only used for about a decade. Southroads was comatose when I picked up that signing in October 2003, with mall walkers and offices dominating a good portion of the retail area. Sears, however, is still operating in its location across from the Mall.

Competition and suburban growth in southwest Omaha likely would have killed Southroads even without Kennedy Freeway. The fact that JCPenney's old logo was still in place illustrates that Southroads didn't update fast (or thorough) enough, especially compared to similar Omaha area malls such as Crossroads, Westroads, and Mall of the Bluffs, which opened across the Missouri River in 1986. The 1991 opening of the monstrous but beautiful Oak View Mall in southwest Omaha/Millard, with its gigantic Dillard's, Younker's, Sears, and JCPenney stores ultimately signaled the end for Southroads.

Inevitably, Southroads and most of the 13 Street/Fort Crook corridor will have to be razed and redeveloped.

Mark Shannon's Commentary:

Posted March 21, 2005 (user submitted January 25, 2005)

South Roads Mall is a small, two level mall with 2 anchors built in the late 70's or early 80's. one anchor is now the home of Ameritrade, the other is empty. The empty one was a J.C.Penney Outlet store. Penney's still has a home store in the mall, but it's in one of the smaller store fronts. All of the smaller National stores are gone as well leaving only a few Mom and Pop stores. There are 2 Nail Salons in the mall that may be owned by the same person. A gym is located on the first floor in the mall. It had a movie theater on the 2nd level. I have a feeling the mall may become Ameritrade in the next 10 years.

The reason for the downfall is road changes, along with general community downfall. The main road infront of the mall was U.S. 75. When the mall was built, U.S. 75 was the main road between Omaha and Kansas City. Interstate 29 took that roll, but it didn't kill off the mall. Sometime in the 90's however, NDOR (Nebraska Dept. of Roads)built a freeway to bypass the street the mall was on. With most of the traffic now on the bypass, and local persons using the old road, the traffic into the mall went down. I would guess the small national stores went out first along with the north anchor (now Ameritrade). I'm guessing J.C. Penney closed shop in the last 2 years (Label scar still look fresh to see what was there).

Michelle K's Commentary:

Posted March 21, 2005 (user submitted March 31, 2004)

When I was a kid, this mall was huge and THE place to hang out. It had popular stores, a decent food court, and even a movie theater. However, after about 1997, Bellevue (a suburb of Omaha) started expanding southward, while Omaha built a new mall out west. Before long, Southroads was a thing of the past. Eventually, both of the anchor stores (Younker's and JC Penney's) turned into outlet stores. Within a few years, those outlet stores closed as well.

Ameritrade, a nationally known e-stock trading company, now occupies the space that Younker's was in. Other than that, all that's left are a few local stores, a gym/fitness center, a couple of loyal food court places, and lots of empty space. Trust me - malls don't get much deader than this.

I hope that someday Ameritrade will just buy the whole mall, kick everyone out and rebuild their offices. It would be a great improvement!

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