Monday, July 2, 2012

University Mall in Carbondale, Illinois

photos by Mike Kalasnik
description by Nicholas Eckhart

     The University Mall is located at 1235 East Main Street in Carbondale, Illinois. The mall currently has a high vacancy rate (4 of its 10 store anchors are vacant and some parts inside the mall are almost completely deserted).

     The first business to open on site was JCPenney in 1971. At the time the mall itself was in its planning stage and would not officially open as a mall until 1974. When the mall first opened it featured a new Sears and the JCPenney mentioned above. The enclosed mall comprised then of one wing of stores that started at the northeast corner of JCPenney and ended at the southwest side of Sears.

      In 1980 a wing connecting to the southeast of the mall was built and a new Anchor opened there called Meis. Meis would be re-branded as Elder Beerman in 1989.

     In the spring of 1991 a major expansion opened at the University Mall. This expansion came with a price-tag of $35 Million. Included in the expansion was the addition of a food court, a Venture store, a FamousBarr store, and more enclosed mall space.

     In July 1991 Sears relocated to the Illinois Centre Mall that was developed approximately 20 miles away in the city of Marion. Here are some photos of the Illinois Centre Mall. In 1992 Montgomery Ward set up shop in the former Sears building. The 80,000 square foot Venture store was shuttered in February 1993. On November 9th, 1995 K's Merchandise opened in the former Venture store. The mall's Elder Beerman store closed in 1997; this store is currently occupied by Southern Illinois Healthcare center. In 2001 the mall's Montgomery Ward store closed along with all other remaining Montgomery Ward stores. In May 2002 an Old Navy store opened in a section of the mall that previously housed smaller shops.

     In July 2002 demolition began on the former Sears and Montgomery Ward store. In 2003 a new addition to the mall opened there.

The following list shows the stores that were opened in the new addition
  • Kerasotes Showplace theatre (re-branded AMC Showcase in 2010)
  • Bed Bath & Beyond (opened 2003)
  • Steve & Barry's (opened 2005 and closed 2008)
  • Goody's (open 2004 and closed 2008)
  • Michael's (closed 2007 and apparently Ross is opening here in 2012)
     In 2004 the food court was moved to an empty area by the former Meis and Elder Beerman store. In 2006 Famous Barr was re-branded as Macy's. K's Merchandise and Michael's were shuttered within the first few months of 2007. Also in 2007 plans for a small strip plaza on the northwest side of the mall were cancelled. As mentioned in the list above, the Steve & Barry's and Goody's stores closed in 2008.

A site plan I made with Google Maps imagery.

Here are some photos of the University Mall from May 19, 2012, enjoy!

The directory for the University Mall

Garfield's Restaurant and Pub

The Famous Barr store that became Macy's in 2006

The former Venture store (later K's merchandise)

The JCPenney store

Former Meis (later Elder Beerman)

The rest of the Exterior

The "Food Hall"

The AMC Showplace

Bed Bath & Beyond

The former Michael's arts and Crafts store

The former Goody's store

An entrance into the mall

The Old Navy store
The mall's interior

Macy's mall entrance

The former Venture/ K's Merchandise mall entrance.

JCPenney's mall entrance

The former Elder Beerman is straight ahead and the Food Court is to the left.

Former Elder Beerman mall entrance
Looking towards Bed Bath & Beyond and AMC Showplace
The Bed Bath & Beyond mall entrance
The AMC Showplace mall entrance
The former Steve and Barry's mall entrance
The Food Court