CHARLOTTETOWN MALL
South Independence Boulevard / US 74 and South Kings Drive
Charlotte, North Carolina

The first fully-enclosed shopping center in the Southeast, and fourth major interior mall in the United States, opened in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 28, 1959.

CHARLOTTETOWN MALL was situated on a 10 acre parcel, on the southeastern fringes of Charlotte's center city, or "Uptown", area. The mall was designed by A.G. Odell, Jr. and was the third mall-type retail complex built by the James W. Rouse Company (under the auspices of its Community Research & Development subsidiary).

The complex encompassed 250,000 leasable square feet and was anchored by a 2-level (45,000 square foot), Asheville-based The Bon Marche department store (this North Carolina chain having no connection with the Seattle-based retailer of the same name).

Forty tenants were situated around a 2-story Central Mall, which featured a fountain, S & W Silver Grill snack bar, several rocket ship-shaped bird cages and planters filled with tropical foliage. The first floor included a Colonial supermarket, Eckerd Drug, Western Auto and P.H. Rose variety store. The second level had a Community Hall, S & W Cafeteria and several leased office spaces.

On November 6, 1963, the General Cinema Corporation's Cinema I & II (a.k.a. Charlottetown Mall Cinemas) opened, which occupied a 6 acre tract located across Independence Boulevard from the mall. This was the nation's third twin "shopping mall" motion picture venue. The first had opened, in May 1963, at Greater Boston's NORTHSHORE CENTER. The second began business, in July 1963, at Kansas City, Missouri's WARD PARKWAY CENTER.

Meanwhile, the CHARLOTTETOWN MALL The Bon Marche location had been shuttered. A Charlotte-based Ivey's department store opened in the vacated space in 1964.

The dedication of SOUTHPARK MALL (in 1970) and EASTLAND MALL (in 1975) had a negative effect on business at CHARLOTTETOWN MALL. Both of the new shopping centers were built within 5 miles of the older mall, and were much larger. Soon, CHARLOTTETOWN began to decline. It is thought that the completion of the John Belk Freeway / Interstate 277 Loop, in 1981, had a negative effect on CHARLOTTETOWN MALL, as well.

The first renovation of the mall had been undertaken in the 1970s, when two parking garages were built. In 1981, the mall was remarketed as the value-oriented OUTLET SQUARE. This reinvention was unsuccessful. In 1989, the still-struggling commercial complex was renamed MIDTOWN SQUARE. This effort failed, as well.

The Ivey's anchor store had been reduced to a clearance center some years before. Eventually, its space became a Burlington Coat Factory. The Colonial supermarket had become a Big Star in the early '70s and operated under the Harris-Teeter nameplate until closing in 1988.

In 1993, the Charlottetown Mall Cinemas were shuttered. After languishing as a dead mall for several years, MIDTOWN SQUARE also west bust. Both structures were bulldozed in 2005-2006. A mixed-use, retail, condominium and office complex has been built on the sites of the old cinema and shopping mall.

The 225 million dollar METROPOLITAN project was developed by a joint venture of Charlotte-based Pappas Properties / Collette Associates and Birmingham-based Colonial Properties Trust. Its retail segment included a vertically-stacked Home Depot Expo Design Center and Target. This Phase One portion of the project was dedicated in October 2007.

Stores opened as part of Phase Two included Trader Joe's, Best Buy, Staples, West Elm and Marshalls. These began business in the fall of 2008, with completion of the entire METROPOLITAN project taking place in 2010.

Sources:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
Malls Of America Blogspot
Urban Planet.org / North Carolina / Charlotte / "Uptown Living" [Metro.M]
www.cinematreasures.org
Groceteria website "Charlotte: The 1960's" article /David Gwynn webmaster
http://www.pappasproperties.com
Colonial Properties Trust press release / October 3, 2005