DAYTON MALL
Miamisburg-Centerville Road and Dayton-Springboro Pike
Montgomery County, Ohio

DAYTON MALL was the 10th enclosed shopping hub developed by Youngstown, Ohio's Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. The complex was located 8 miles south of downtown Dayton, in an unincorporated section of Montgomery County known as Miami Township. The 102 acre mall site, at the intersection of State Routes 725 and 741, was adjacent to the Interstate 75 expressway.

Planning began for the fully-enclosed shopping hub in the mid-1960s, with construction underway by 1968. The east and west wings of the 1,150,000 square foot shopping center had a single retail level. The center section included an upper floor, known as the Mezzanine.

A 3-level (263,500 square foot), Dayton-based Rike's was dedicated in the fall of 1969. By the time of the official mall dedication in early 1970, a 2-level (212,000 square foot) J.C. Penney and (122,700 square foot) Sears were also in operation. The Sears store had 2 levels, but only the main mall level was used for retail. A basement housed corporate offices.

Among the mall's one hundred and twenty charter tenants were Hickory Farms of Ohio, Chess King, Thal's ["thallz"] ladies' wear, Donenfield's ladies' wear, Mayor's Jewelry & Records, Hot Sam Pretzels, Docktor Pet Center, Cassano's Pizza King, Leroy's Keepsake Diamonds, Camelot Music, an in-mall Liberal supermarket and J.G. McCrory 5 &amp 10. The single-screen Chakeres Dayton Mall Cinema had showed its first feature December 25, 1969.

The Southland 75 Drive-in, located directly west of DAYTON MALL on State Route 741, had opened July 13, 1964. At the time, the theater had the largest outdoor screen in the Buckeye State. The venue, twin-screened in the early 1980s, closed July 13, 1986. It was replaced by the fifteen-store SOUTHLAND 75 SHOPPING CENTER, which was completed in the spring of 1987.

The first renovation of DAYTON MALL had been completed in 1984, when new terra cotta tile floors were placed over the original terrazzo surfaces. A Food Court was also installed in unused space on the mid-mall Mezzanine.

Rike's had received a Shillito Rikes nameplate in June 1982, and a Lazarus banner in March 1986. The store became a Lazarus-Macy's in August 2003 and was "Macy-ated" March 6, 2005.

A second renovation of the shopping facility was underway by February 1994. This 20 million dollar remodeling was done to keep the center competitive with the new MALL AT FAIRFIELD COMMONS (1993) {12.4 miles northeast, in Beavercreek}. A 2-level (179,000 square foot) J.C. Penney was built in front of what had been the main entrance. The store was dedicated March 6, 1996.

Moreover, two cinemas on the Mezzanine were replaced by new stores and the lower level of Sears became an additional sales floor. The original Penney's, at the end of the West Wing, re-opened as a Cincinnati-based McAlpin's October 30, 1996. With its remodeling now complete, DAYTON MALL encompassed 1,329,000 leasable square feet and had one hundred and sixty retailers under one roof.

McAlpin's was rebranded as a Dayton-based Elder-Beerman in July 1998. The mall, itself, was acquired by the Columbus-based Glimcher Realty Trust in April 1997.

By the early 21st century, the prevailing trend in the retail industry was that enclosed shopping malls were becoming passe'. Greater Dayton's SALEM MALL and Middletown's CITY CENTRE MART and TOWNE MALL had declined into virtually vacant properties, or had been demolished. DAYTON MALL had to strive to keep a competitive edge.

The latest thing in retail was trendy, upscale and open-air, as exemplified by THE GREENE TOWN CENTER {7.3 miles northeast, also in Beavercreek}. This 800,000 square foot lifestyle center opened in August 2006. News of this complex initiated plans for a open-air "lifestyle component" to be added to DAYTON MALL.

In June 2005, Glimcher initiated construction on the 20 million dollar (90,000 square foot) VILLAGE AT DAYTON MALL. The auxiliary shopping center was built in the northwest parking area, along State Route 725. It was to add twenty-five tenants to the mall's retail roster.

Bravo! Cucina Italiana served its first meals on September 22, 2006. Ann Taylor Loft began business October 3. As the VILLAGE was built, the north-facing facade of DAYTON MALL was remodeled and enlarged. A new Borders Books was built, which opened in May 2006. It was followed by the dedication of Orvis Sporting Trends, in November of the same year.

The mall and its peripheral open-air VILLAGE now housed one hundred and eighty-four retail spaces. The shuttering of Borders Books, in early 2011, created a vacancy that was filled when DSW, in the mall's East Wing, closed and moved. The new store held its grand opening February 23, 2012.

With the old DSW space now vacant, plans were finalized for a Dick's Sporting Goods. The old DSW space, and an adjacent space previously occupied by F.Y.E., were expanded by an additional 19,000 square feet. The (50,000 square foot) Dick's store opened for business November 7, 2012. DAYTON MALL and VILLAGE AT DAYTON MALL now encompassed 1,438,000 leasable square feet.

By this time, a new retail rival had come on the scene. AUSTIN LANDING {2 miles southwest, in Montgomery County} was an open-air, mixed-use complex. Segments of its retail component opened for business between 2011 and 2014.

Indiana's Simon Property Group created a spin-off Real Estate Investment Trust in May 2014. Known as the Washington Prime Group, it merged with the Glimcher Realty Trust in early 2015. As a result, DAYTON MALL was brought under the ownership and management of the Columbus, Ohio-based Washington Prime Group.

Sources:

Personal recollection of the author
www.daytonmall.org
www.cinematour.com
www.glimcher.com
www.whio.com
www.fds.com (Federated Stores)
www.answers.com
www.thegreene.com
www.daytonhistorybooks.citymax.com


DAYTON MALL MUSINGS:

My fascination with shopping malls began in the late "classic mall era", when I was still living in my native southwestern Ohio (between Dayton and Cincinnati). Until 1969, I had never visited an enclosed shopping mall. At this time, I was a wide-eyed kid, infatuated with drawing house plans, building plans and structural renderings. I didn't have a clue about the aforementioned shopping meccas in the nearby "big city".

This all changed when -in 1969- my stepfather took me on an insider tour of the site where he had been doing electrical wiring over the past year.

When I first visited DAYTON MALL, construction was about three quarters complete. The Rike's department store was ready to open. As I recall, it was a stipulation of Federated Stores, that their Rike's was to be the first store opened in the mall. This came to pass.

The new, 264,000 square store had 3 levels. It was much larger than its "sister" shopping mall store, that had opened 6 years earlier at (what would become) SALEM MALL. I also recall venturing to the Sears store site at this time. It was sealed from the rest of the mall by a plastic barrier. It had no walls....yet.

What I recall most about the circa-1969 DAYTON MALL Rike's was the optical illusion-design carpeting in the men's clothing section, that made you kind of dizzy if you stared at its patterns while walking through the department.

Of course, in keeping with the times, the DAYTON MALL Rike's was a full-service department store. There was a gourmet food counter on the first level, and an electronic / tv department on the second. This was back in "the days", before big box stores cornered the electronics / tv marketplace, and made such a retail section in a mid-tier department store obsolete.

The mall's three corridors converged upon a 2-story Atrium, in front of Rike's. Upon my first visit to "The Mall", workmen were doing a final polish to its the new terrazzo floors. The huge ceiling fixture had been completely installed, however. It was a wavy treatment that extended the length and breadth of the area. Actually, it was made of strips of PAPER (I don't know if many people, later frequenting DAYTON MALL, were aware of this).

In fact, the mall, as it was originally grand-opened in 1970, was built in a very spartan fashion. There were no skylights anywhere. There were two rather basic, no frills, fountains at the midpoint of the East and West Wings, with no such embellishment in the Atrium.

It was as if the builders of the original mall wanted it to be BIG....really BIG (for that time frame and locale). In order to do this, corners were cut, in regard to architectural embellishment of the interior spaces.

In 1970, the major feature of the brand-new DAYTON MALL was its physical SIZE. With one hundred and twenty stores, and nearly 1 million leasable square feet, it was larger than any of the malls that existed in Cincinnati or Dayton at the time.

Although its interiors were rather sterile and plain, the Main Entrance was built on a grand scale. It was an imposing, 2-story edifice, something like a post-populuxe southern mansion. There was a sheet of glass across the entire front of the 2-level entry corridor, behind a stand of pillars. Upon entering through the main doors, one came into a 2-story concourse area. There was a hallway going off to the right, with a Liberal supermarket at its end.

Looking ahead, down the length of the entry corridor, there were two, sweeping, semi-circular stairways.....one on either side of the mallway. Stores on this first level included Cassano's Pizza King, Docktor Pet Center, and the obligatory Chess King (what major shopping mall in 1970 didn't have one?).

At the end of the entry corridor was the 2-level Atrium and an imposing, brick and stone, Rike's storefront. On the Upper Level / Mezzanine were lots of stores, but I can only recall a coin shop. The area in front of Rike's was a dark, dead zone. There was floor space enough for all sorts of kiosk-type retailers.......but, in 1970, such a "specialty leasing" concept was not being utilized in the Dayton area.

Going off to the right of the Atrium, on the Lower Level, was the West Wing, which included the Dayton Mall Cinema (in keeping with the times, having only a single-screen). Farther on was a large Metropolitan apparel store, with a Spencer Gifts across the mall. At the end of the West Wing was a 2-level J.C. Penney.

The East Wing extended from the other end of the Atrium. Along its length was a Donenfield's apparel store, McCrory 5 & 10, Hickory Farms of Ohio and -my favorite store out of the other one hundred and nineteen- Camelot Music.

Walking into this store in 1970, one would find no compact discs and no home video. The first major home video format, VHS (video home system), was not to come on the market until 6 years later. Compact discs were not to be seen for another six. So, everything was analogue.

There were lots of LP record albums (selling for around 5 to 6 dollars each). 45 rpm singles were going for 79 cents (which -to me- was very expensive.....when the same single could have been bought at a G.C. Murphy or W.T. Grant for 66 cents). One would also have seen several cases filled with either 8-track cartridge tapes or cassettes.

Walking out of Camelot, and heading farther east in the mall, one would eventually come to Sears, which sat at the end of the East Wing. At this time, the retail area of this store had only 1 level. There was a basement (which had frontage on a lower level parking lot), but this was used as office space until the mid-'90s.

DAYTON MALL 2000 +

As one might expect, a trip to the DAYTON MALL in the new millennium will reveal quite a different shopping center. The blandly-built interior spaces were spruced up in the mid-1980s and (again) in 1994-1995, with a glass elevator installed in the Atrium area.

A 13-bay Food Court was built in the empty Upper Level / Mezzanine "dead zone". Of course, the Rike's store no longer goes by that name. After going through two nameplate changes, it was "Macy-ated" on March 6, 2005.

The J.C. Penney, once at the end of the West Wing, moved into a brand new store, that was built in front of the original Main Entrance in 1995-1996. The previous Penney's became a McAlpin's; eventually morphing into an Elder-Beerman in 1998. The original cinema folded in 1999.

Also gone are the McCrory, Liberal supermarket, Metropolitan and every other inline store that operated in the circa-1970 shopping mall. I believe that the Sears is the -one-and-only- original tenant left. 

A Spencer Gifts does operate in today's DAYTON MALL, but it is in a different location than it was in 1970.

The Curator