OXMOOR CENTER
Shelbyville Road / US 60 and Oxmoor Lane
Louisville, Kentucky

The third major shopping mall in Greater Louisville was built on a 75 acre parcel, located 6.5 miles east of the Derby City's downtown area. The fully-enclosed complex was developed by a joint venture of the Bullitt Family Trust-Beargrass Corporation and Seattle's SafeCo Insurance-Winmar conglomerate.

The OXMOOR CENTER land parcel was adjacent to the Henry Watterson Expressway / Interstate 264. It was part of the 940 acre Oxmoor Estate and was leased for operation of the mall. Originally encompassing approximately 650,000 leasable square feet, OXMOOR CENTER consisted of a main retail floor and Upper Level Mezzanine, which surrounded its Center Court.

The first operational store, a 2-level (183,300 square foot), Cincinnati-based Shillito's, began business August 3, 1970. The mall proper officially opened for business February 8, 1971. On hand for the grand opening celebration was Cynthia Ann Bostick, "Miss Kentucky 1970", who cut the ceremonial ribbon. A 2-level (156,000 square foot), Louisville-based Stewart's held its grand opening August 1, 1971.

Charter tenants at OXMOOR CENTER included Yudofsky Furriers, Lerner Shops, Far East Imports, Thom McAn Shoes, Something To Do, Rodes-Rapier, Byck's, Loevenhart's, Disc Records, Zales Jewelers, Modelle's Custom Tailors, Oxmoor Smoke Shop, Blue Boar Cafeteria and twin-screen Oxmoor Cinemas I & II.

By the mid-1970s, the shopping hub's Upper Level had been fully utilized. It now featured a second cinema complex, the Putter's Park indoor golf course and a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour.

Shopping malls in the vicinity of OXMOOR CENTER included THE MALL / MALL ST. MATTHEWS (1962) {.8 of a mile west, in St. Matthews}, GREEN TREE MALL (1968) {9.3 miles northwest, in Clarksville, Indiana}, BASHFORD MANOR MALL (1973-2004) {4.1 miles southwest, in West Beuchel}, RACELAND MALL (1975) {4.3 miles southwest, in Jefferson County} and MIDDLETOWN STATION (1990-2008) {4.9 miles east, also in Jefferson County}.

The first expansion of OXMOOR CENTER developed the southern half of the mall site, bridging the Middle Fork of Beargrass Creek with a 201,600 square foot South Wing. Anchored by a 1-level (139,800 square foot) Sears "Store of the Future", the South Wing,was christened July 31, 1984. It enlarged the tenant roster to one hundred and twenty-six stores and services.

Work on a subsequent renovation commenced in June 1989. The project included an interior facelift and installation of the 10-bay Oxmoor Gardens Food Court in Upper Level Mezzanine space. Center Court was also reconfigured with a glass elevator and new escalators and skylights were added to mallway ceilings. The remodeled retail hub was re-dedicated November 15, 1989.

Anchor rebrandings commenced with the conversion of Shillito's to a Shillito Rikes, in June 1982. This morphed into a Lazarus in March 1986, Lazarus-Macy's in August 2003 and bona fide Macy's in March 2005. At some point in time, the store had a third level added, which increased its size to 271,300 square feet.

The Stewart's store's first nameplate change was completed November 1, 1985, when Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres took over. The 1986 merger of Associated Dry Goods with May Department stores resulted in a deal to sell the Louisville Ayres stores the Ben Snyder's chain (another Louisville-based retailer).

Ben Snyder's was acquired by Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess's the day before the deal was to close. Amazingly enough, the Louisville Ayres stores were rebranded, with Ben Snyder's nameplates, on September 3, 1987. Only 5 months later, on February 1, 1988, ANOTHER nameplate was put up; that of Hess's. This store was in operation until August 1, 1993.

Stewart's old store at OXMOOR CENTER was rebranded again in November 1994, when Jackson, Michigan-based Jacobson's moved in. This store lasted until September 2002. The most recent rebranding was done by Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur, who renovated the building and opened for business September 20, 2003.

The mall had been given a major renovation between November 1997 and November 1998. The 15 million dollar project revamped the north-facing front of the shopping hub, creating an exterior-entranced Streetscape out of a windowless concrete wall.

A new, tree-lined entry from Shelbyville Road was created, which converged on a 3-story, octagonal atrium mall entrance. Common areas inside OXMOOR CENTER were also revamped, with new flooring installed throughout. Center Court was completely reconfigured, with a new fountain and escalator. This ascended to a remodeled Food Court.

The cinema spaces on the Upper and Lower Levels, by now vacant, were repurposed. The Upper Level space became inline stores and offices. The Lower Level area became part of a new Old Navy store.

Meanwhile, a new lifestyle-type complex had come on the Derby City scene. THE SUMMIT LOUISVILLE {4.3 miles northeast, in Jefferson County} held its grand opening in November 2001. As a competitive measure, a second expansion of OXMOOR CENTER had been done.

Dedicated October 29, 2001, it added a 2-level (80,000 square foot), Galyan's Trading Company to the north-facing facade of the mall. Stores in the Galyan's chain, a Plainfield, Indiana-based athletic equipment retailer, were rebranded by Pennsylvania's Dick's Sporting Goods in October 2004.

For most of its history, OXMOOR CENTER was owned and operated by the Bullitt Family Trust-Beargrass Corporation and Seattle's SafeCo-Winmar conglomerate. In 1999, Owensboro, Kentucky's David Hocker & Associates attempted, unsuccessfully, to buy SafeCo's fifty percent share.

After the failed transaction, the Beargass Corporation established full ownership of the mall and installed Hocker & Associates as the property manager and leasing agent. The owner of Hocker & Associates succeeded in buying the mall structure (but not the land) in May 2003 and sold the property to Maryland's Rouse Company, in October 2004.

In November of the same year, the holdings of the Rouse Company, including OXMOOR CENTER, were acquired by Chicago's General Growth Properties, who also assumed ownership of the neighboring MALL ST. MATTHEWS. Hence an ongoing 30-year rivalry between the two malls was finally laid to rest.

Today, OXMOOR CENTER encompasses 960,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and ten stores and services. An interior facelift renovation got underway in February 2013 and was finished in November of the same year. It entailed demolition of the mall's Mezzanine / Food Court area and another reconstruction of Center Court. Food vending tenants were relocated throughout the main level of the mall, with new casual dining restaurants joining the tenant list. 

Sources:

"Oxmoor Center" article on Wikipedia
http://pastperfectvintage.com/louisvillestores.htm
www.bizjournals.com
The Courier-Journal
www.scribd.com "Eastern Kentucky Movie Theaters"
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)