CRABTREE VALLEY MALL
Glenwood Avenue / US 70 and Creedmoor Road
Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina's Triangle region stretches between the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The first enclosed shopping center in the area, Raleigh's NORTH HILLS MALL, evolved from a circa-1960 strip center that had been expanded into a 2-level interior mall in 1967.

Plans for a second fully-enclosed "Tar Heel Triangle" shopping complex were underway by the late 1960s. A 67 acre site, situated 4.5 miles northwest of the North Carolina State House, was acquired and developed by Sam Longiotti, under the auspices of Chapel Hill-based Plaza Associates. "CRABTREE MALL", as the project was originally known, was designed by Construction Engineers, Incorporated.

An open-air Convenience Center, on the east end of the site, was the first structure built. It housed a Big Star supermarket, US Post Office, barber shop, beauty salon, Kwik Pix photo shop, Singer Sewing Center and the Schneider-Merl Theatres Valley Theatres I & II. This venue showed its first features on February 9, 1971.

CRABTREE VALLEY MALL was officially dedicated August 8, 1972. On hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon were Sam Longiotti, Tom Belk and Karl Hudson, Junior. The original mall encompassed 2 retail levels and approximately 960,000 leasable square feet.

The three charter anchors were a 2-level (150,000 square foot) Sears, 2-level (89,000 square foot) Richmond, Virginia-based Thalhimers and 3-level (251,000 square foot), Triangle-based Hudson Belk. As a footnote, North Carolina's Hudson Belk was a different "merchandising partnership" than the Belk Hudson division of Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Junior anchors at CRABTREE VALLEY MALL were Treasury Drug, a G.C. Murphy 5 & 10 and 2-level (35,000 square foot), Richmond-based Miller & Rhoads. Charter inline stores included Sam Goody Music, K & K Toys, World Bazaar, The Swiss Colony, Chess King, National Shirt Shops, Size 5-7-9 Shops, Chick-Fil-A, DJ's Books & News and a Piccadilly Cafeteria.

Large parking decks were attached to the north and south sides of the complex. Moreover, there were six outparcel structures, in addition to the Convenience Center. These included two banks, a service station and Goodyear and Sears Auto Centers.

Commercial competitors included the aforementioned NORTH HILLS MALL {1.7 miles east, in Raleigh}, UNIVERSITY MALL (1973) {21 miles northwest, in Chapel Hill}, NORTHGATE MALL (1974) {19.2 miles northwest, in Durham city} and CARY VILLAGE MALL (1979) {6.2 miles southwest, in Cary}.

The first renovation of CRABTREE VALLEY MALL was completed in 1985 when a Food Court was installed in previously-existing space on the Upper Level. Common areas were also given a face lift. Thalhimers became the first anchor store to change nameplates. It was shuttered January 25, 1992 and re-opened, as an Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's, February 2 of the same year.

In 1990-1991, a renovation and expansion had been done to CARY VILLAGE MALL, with the complex morphing into the 1.1 million square foot CARY TOWNE CENTER. News of a prospective CROSSROADS PLAZA complex {in Cary} convinced the owners of CRABTREE VALLEY MALL to announce a major expansion in February 1992. This got underway in July of the following year.

The southern parking deck was expanded toward Creedmoor Road, with the north deck reconfigured and expanded. A color-coding system was implemented. There would now be Green, Red , Gold and Orange decks.

Sears built a new 2-level (167,800 square foot) store on the mall's northwest corner. The freestanding Sears Auto Center was torn down, with a new facility installed on the Lower Level of the Green parking deck. The new Sears and Auto Center opened for business on August 3, 1994.

At the same time, Hecht's built a new store on the west end of the mall. Their 2-level (180,000 square foot) location debuted August 6, 1995. Hudson Belk was also given an interior face lift and was re-dedicated September 27th.

The renovation continued with a reconfiguration of the vacant Thalhimers / Hecht's. A new store, encompassing 120,000 square feet, was created. It opened, as North Carolina's first (and only) Lord & Taylor, November 10, 1995.

As a final facet of the 80 million dollar remodeling, the interior of the 1972 mall was refitted with brass railing and marble flooring. Moreover, the culinary complex, renamed Pavilion Food Court, was enlarged into a 16-bay facility. CRABTREE VALLEY MALL now enveloped 1,366,100 leasable square feet.

2002 brought two new retail rivals; TRIANGLE TOWNE CENTER {6.2 miles northeast, in Raleigh} and STREETS AT SOUTHPOINT & MAIN STREET {19.4 miles northwest, in Durham County}. In order to remain on top of the game, an expansion was -once again- planned for CRABTREE VALLEY MALL.

Initially, a third retail level was envisaged. A large lifestyle wing was also plotted for the area lying between Hudson Belk and the Convenience Center. These plans were scaled down considerably, with only a freestanding Restaurant Row and new parking structure being built.

18 million dollars were invested in these additions. The new parking facility, referred to as the Green Deck, was completed in late 2007 (the original Green Deck became the Blue Deck). The completion of the new parking garage was accompanied by the dedication of a 2-level, open-air building, which contained three sit-down restaurants. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks served its first meals June 25, 2008. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar debuted October 31st.

The Convenience Center had gone through various permutations since 1971. The twinplex had been shuttered in November 1988. The adjacent Big Star grocery went dark around this time. These gave way to Toys "R" Us (1988-2006), Barnes & Noble (1994- ) and Best Buy (2006- ).

Lord & Taylor announced the closing of their CRABTREE VALLEY MALL location in 2003. However, the store held on until February 28, 2006. Hudson Belk renovated the building's Upper Level and opened a (69,000 square foot) Men's Store on May 6, 2007. The Lower Level was refashioned into six inline tenant spaces. The largest of these was a (21,000 square foot) H & M, which began business March 18, 2010.

The most recent nameplate changes at the mall involve Hecht's, which was "Macy-ated" September 9, 2006, and Hudson Belk, whose official name was truncated to simply Belk on October 12, 2010.

A north side restaurant Streetscape was installed in Upper Level mall space over a 16-year interval. The first tenant, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, began business in early 2002. (The) Cheesecake Factory welcomed its first diners on August 20, 2003. The Red Monkey Tavern and Torii Noodle Bar (By Kanki) were dedicated between early 2011 and late 2012. The final bistro, Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, was dedicated April 3, 2017. 

Sources:

http://www.crabtree-valley-mall.com/anniversary (Website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
http://www.crabtree-valley-mall.com
Triangle Business Journal
The News Observer
http://livemalls.blogspot.com
Malls of America Blogspot
www.cinematreasures.org 
Wake County, North Carolina tax assessor website
"Crabtree Valley Mall" article on Wikipedia