SOUTHLAND CENTER
Eureka and Pardee Roads
Taylor, Michigan

Greater Detroit's fourth -and final- directionally-named shopping mall was built on a 67.9 acre site, located 13 miles southwest of the Motor City CBD. When planning got underway for SOUTHLAND CENTER, its site was located within an unincorporated section of Wayne County known as Taylor Township. The City of Taylor came into being in May 1968, which contained the SOUTHLAND CENTER site within its boundaries.

Like its three sibling centers, SOUTHLAND was developed by the J.L. Hudson Company. The mall was designed by Los Angeles' Victor Gruen Associates, with assistance from Southfield, Michigan's Louis G. Redstone Associates firm.

Encompassing approximately 534,200 leasable square feet and fifty-six stores and services, the fully-enclosed shopping facility was officially dedicated July 20, 1970. Like the original NORTHLAND, EASTLAND and WESTLAND malls, it was initially a single-anchor complex.

The SOUTHLAND mall was situated around a 3-level (247,200 square foot), Detroit-based Hudson's. There were also a single-level (35,000 square foot) Hudson's Budget Store, (33,900 square foot) Kroger supermarket and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. At the north end of the East Court was a water wall fountain and stage. In the main mallway, connecting the East and West Courts, was a large bird aviary.

Charter tenants included Chess King, Foxmoor Casuals, Hot Sam Pretzels, Land of Hi-Fi, Singer Sewing Center and Winkelman's ladies' wear. The Suburban Detroit Theatres Southland 1 & 2 made its debut on October 8, 1970. The venue was reconfigured as the Southland 4, which opened December 16, 1983.

The first expansion of the retail hub was completed in the mid-1970s. It added a 2-level (215,000 square foot) J.C. Penney, dedicated October 6, 1976, and an East Wing of around twenty-five inline stores. SOUTHLAND CENTER now encompassed approximately 797,300 leasable square feet.

Maryland's Rouse Company acquired the mall in the late 1980s. They performed a second enlargement of the complex, which was completed in 1988. It brought a third anchor, a 1-level (75,000 square foot) Mervyn's, and expanded the GLA of SOUTHLAND CENTER to approximately 863,500 square feet.

During this renovation, the West Wing mallway was reconfigured to better accommodate the new department store. By this time, the mall's original fountain wall and bird aviary had been removed.

There were -and are- three primary SOUTHLAND competitors in Greater Detroit's  "Downriver" area. The first was a medium-sized strip complex known as SOUTHGATE CENTER (1958) {3.1 miles east, in Southgate}. Next was FAIRLANE TOWN CENTER (1976) {8 miles northeast, in Dearborn}. Lastly, there was FRENCHTOWN SQUARE MALL (1988) {17.9 miles southwest, in Monroe County}, which was renamed MALL OF MONROE in 2009.

A third expansion of SOUTHLAND CENTER had been done in 1992-1993. The Picnic Garden Food Court was added to the south-facing facade, which included a towering skylight structure and tenants such as McDonald's, Sbarro and Taco Bell.

The first anchor rebranding at SOUTHLAND took place in August 2001, when the Hudson's nameplate was replaced with the Marshall Field's brand. In 2004, Chicago's General Growth Properties acquired the assets of The Rouse Company, making SOUTHLAND CENTER a GGP holding.

The year 2006 brought major changes to the shopping hub. Mervyn's shut down in February. The Marshall Field's name was retired, and replaced with a Macy's moniker, in September. The Picnic Garden Food Court closed in late 2005, with some of its fast food outlets relocating within the mall. The vacant food court was gutted and expanded into a 1-level (45,000 square foot) Best Buy, which opened for business in late 2006.

The Southland 4 cinema closed for good in January 1999. In August 2000, its space became a (22,500 square foot) Borders Books. This was shuttered in September 2011. A relocated Forever 21 moved into the space in the spring of 2013.

General Growth Properties created Rouse Properties, a spin-off Real Estate Investment Trust for "Grade B" malls, in January 2012. SOUTHLAND CENTER became a Rouse Properties holding at this time. The portfolio of thirty-five shopping centers was sold in July 2016, with the buyer being an affiliate of Toronto's Brookfield Asset Management.

Meanwhile, Rouse Properties had embarked on a 60 million dollar renovation of SOUTHLAND CENTER in the summer of 2014. The vacant Mervyn's was demolished. It was replaced by the state-of-the-art Cinemark Southland Center & XD. The 12-screen multiplex showed its first features April 21, 2016.

An outdoor plaza, with two sit-down restaurants, was installed adjacent to the Forever 21 store in the southwest corner of the mall. A Primanti Brothers sandwich shop welcomed its first diners August 2, 2016. Grimaldi's Coal Brick Oven Pizzaria made its debut on April 24, 2017.

Sources:

http://motor-city-retail-history.blogspot.com / "Matt Burb"
https://www.flickr.com / "Downriver Things" Photostream
www.detroityes.com
"Southland Center" article on Wikipedia
http://rouseproperties.com
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.movie-theatre.org / Mikev Rivest