South Memorial Parkway / US 231 and Drake Avenue Southwest
Huntsville, Alabama

The fourth shopping mall in Huntsville started out as PARKWAY CITY CENTER, an open-air strip complex that opened for business March 14, 1957. Housing twenty-five stores and services, the complex occupied 34 acres, located 1 mile south of Huntsville's downtown area.

Major PARKWAY CITY tenants were Walgreen Drug, a Kwik Chek supermarket and G.C. Murphy 5 & 10. The first bona fide anchor, a 2-level (76,100 square foot) Montgomery Ward, was added in 1959. A second department store, a 2-level (75,700 square foot) Birmingham-based Pizitz, opened for business in 1961. On December 8, 1967, the single-screen Madison Theatre showed its first feature.

A tornado hit the strip plaza on April 3, 1974. South end stores were reduced to rubble. Chattanooga-based Arlen Real Estate (the precursor of today's CBL & Associates Properties) acquired the complex and renovated it into a single-level, fully-enclosed shopping center.

PARKWAY CITY MALL opened in February 1976. The retail hub encompassed 414,500 leasable square feet and contained over seventy stores and services. It was anchored by the aforementioned Montgomery Ward and Pizitz stores and a 1-level (48,100 square foot) Birmingham-based Parisian.

A shuttered Kwik Chek supermarket on the north end of the mall was renovated into a second cinematic auditorium whose operation was merged with the existing theater. The venues opened, as the Madison Twin, on April 30, 1976.

Competing shopping hubs in Huntsville were originally HEART OF HUNTSVILLE (1961) {1 mile northwest} and THE MALL (1966) {2.2 miles northwest}. MADISON SQUARE {4.6 miles northwest} was dedicated in October 1984.

The Madison Twin closed in August 1986. Its space became a junior anchor-sized, Birmingham-based Yielding's. This morphed into a Nashville-based Castner-Knott Home Store in 1997 and a Dillard's Home Store in 1998.

PARKWAY CITY MALL had been renovated in 1984 and 1994. Over the course of 25 years, there were various anchor store changes. In 1987, the Pizitz chain was acquired, and rebranded, by Jackson, Mississippi-based McRae's. On December 31, 1997, Montgomery Ward was shuttered as part of a chain-wide downsizing.

By this time, Parisian had expanded into adjacent space, with the enlarged store encompassing 76,000 square feet. The chain was also operating Parisian Juniors and Parisian Woman specialty stores within the mall.

Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties and Birmingham-based Colonial Properties Trust acquired the mall, in a joint venture, in 1998; this being the second time that the Tennessee company owned the retail hub.

After 14 years of competition from MADISON SQUARE, PARKWAY CITY MALL was in an advanced state of decline. A plan to bulldoze the struggling shopping center was finalized. Its northwest parking garage would be retained as an all-new, fully-enclosed mall was built. Demolition began, with the razing of the vacant Montgomery Ward, in the spring of 1999.

The first phase of the new PARKWAY PLACE, a 2-level (167,000 square foot) Parisian, opened August 14, 2001. The official dedication of the mall was held October 16, 2002. It spanned approximately 615,400 leasable square feet and housed eighty-nine tenant spaces, with eight kiosks.

Parisian anchored the 2-level complex, along with a 2-level (181,000 square foot) Dillard's. With toney tenants such as Williams-Sonoma, Ann Taylor and Hollister Company, PARKWAY PLACE quickly became established as city's most upscale shopping venue.

In September 2006, Charlotte-based Belk acquired the Parisian chain. The PARKWAY PLACE store was expanded to 187,200 square feet. It was rebranded, by Belk, on September 12, 2007.

A lifestyle-type rival arrived on the scene early in the 21st century. BRIDGE STREET TOWN CENTRE {4.7 miles northwest, in Huntsville} held its grand opening November 1, 2007.

In October 2010, CBL & Associates Properties established 100 percent ownership of PARKWAY PLACE. The mall now spanned 643,100 leasable square feet and housed a total of ninety-seven stores and services.

Sources: / W. Doug Bolden / "Retail Construction" / By Katie Foxworth / Russell Wells (Evans Criswell) (CBL & Associates Properties)