McFARLAND MALL
Skyland Boulevard East / US 11 and McFarland Boulevard East / US 82
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Plans for an "ultra-modern shopper mall" for Tuscaloosa and its environs were announced in June 1967. The proposed retail complex, to be added to a Woolco store already being built, was to occupy a 40 acre site, situated 3.6 miles southeast of center city Tuscaloosa.

McFARLAND MALL was designed by Brandon Crawford & Associates and developed by Tuscaloosa's Ward Wharton McFarland and James L. Hinton. The first operational store, the aforementioned 1-level (115,000 square foot) Woolco, opened its doors in December 1967. This was followed by a freestanding (18,000 square foot) Winn-Dixie supermarket, in April 1968.

Thirty-three stores in the mall proper were dedicated February 19, 1969. The second anchor, a 1-level (100,000 square foot), Mobile-based Gayfer's, was joined by Jacobs Drug, Eleanor Shop, Gilberg's Fabrics, a V.J. Elmore 5 & 10,  Pizitz of Tuscaloosa and National General Corporation Fox Twin 1 & 2 Theatres. When full-leased, McFARLAND MALL enveloped 420,000 leasable square feet and contained over forty stores and services

The first expansion of McFARLAND MALL involved completing a second level for Gayfer's, in 1975. The expanded store housed 180,000 square feet. The mall now spanned 500,000 leasable square feet.

MEADOWBROOK MALL {.9 miles northwest, in Tuscaloosa} was a partially-enclosed complex that was dedicated in October 1977. It was no match for the larger McFARLAND property. There was no true retail rival for McFARLAND MALL until the completion of UNIVERSITY MALL {1.5 miles north, also in Tuscaloosa}, in August 1980.

As a keeping-up measure, McFARLAND MALL received a facelift renovation in early 1980, which included landscaping, an interior makeover and a newly-commissioned logo. The Pizitz Tuscaloosa location was shuttered in October.

Following Woolco's January 1983 departure, Framingham, Massachusetts-based Zayre was recruited to fill 70,000 square feet of empty store space. The chain's two hundred and seventy-ninth location opened, at McFARLAND MALL, November 13, 1983. The remaining retail area was reconfigured as a Birmingham-based Jefferson Home Furniture, which opened in 1986.

Zayre was in operation until April 1989. Its vacant space was divided. Massachusetts-based T.J. Maxx opened October 29, 1989. This was joined by Drug Mart and Craft's Etcetera stores in 1990.

McFARLAND MALL underwent a massive reconstruction between February 1992 and August 1994. The middle section of the mall was gutted. A glass-enclosed main entrance was built, which opened onto a 7-bay Food Court.

The east side of the complex was also expanded by 18,500 square feet; this addition comprising half of a Knoxville, Tennessee-based Goody's Family Clothing. This store held its grand opening on August 4, 1994.

The existing cinema had been reconfigured as the Fox 4 Theatres in June 1982 and was expanded into the Fox 6 Theatres in 1983. Store space across the mallway was rebuilt into four additional auditoriums in 1990. The two adjacent cinemas were named collectively as the Fox 10 Theatres. The second venue was expanded by 2 in 1994, with the cinema known as the Fox 12 Theatres.

Spacious mallways were created as part of the 1992-1994 renovation. Even with additional square footage, the mall still enveloped 500,000 leasable square feet. Its tenant list, which had numbered forty-five before the remodeling, now featured sixty stores and services.

Unfortunately, the 12 million dollar upgrade was not entirely successful. Stores came and went over the following decade, with vacancies piling up. Gayfer's was rebranded by Dillard's in the fall of 1998. This store closed for good June 25, 2008. Goody's shut down in February 2009.

Tuscaloosa's Stan Pate acquired the struggling shopping center in May 2009. Plans for a third renovation of the property were announced in June 2011. A 75 million dollar open-air complex, known as ENCORE TUSCALOOSA, was proposed. In anticipation of its construction, the abandoned Dillard's, and eastern section of McFARLAND MALL, were demolished in March 2014.

Tentative tenants, such as Kohl's, PetSmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Bed, Bath & Beyond- were hinted at, but major construction did not commence. Only a freestanding Cheddar's Casual Cafe was built at the ENCORE TUSCALOOSA site. This bistro served its first customers in April 2013.

In late 2016, it was announced that work on the long-delayed project might get underway in the spring of 2017.

Sources:

The Tuscaloosa News
http://www.labelscar.com / Article posted by "Caldor" / Comments by Steve, Chris, Griffin and Sandi Nauman
http://www.doverpost.com
http://www.petinaro.com
"McFarland Mall" article on Wikipedia