Randall Park Mall
Randall Park Mall is an enclosed shopping mall, located in the small village of North Randall, Ohio (part of the Cleveland metropolitan area) at 20801 Miles Road. The mall's importance to the town is reflected in the two shopping bags appearing in the municipal seal. The mall was scheduled to close its doors on June 12, 2008, prompting most remaining tenants to leave. The closure finally happened in March, 2009 with entrance still possible on occasion for religious services in rented spaces.

Beginnings
In 1966, Dominic Visconsi proposed building Garfield Mall in nearby Garfield Heights. In 1968, voters gave their blessing to the project, and the next year a proposal was revealed. Garfield Mall was to have heated underground parking and elevator/escalator access to stores such as JCPenney, Sears, Higbees, and Halles. In 1971, there were rumblings that Youngstown developer Edward J. DeBartolo was to build a shopping/apartment/office complex nearby, so Garfield Mall was scaled down and the proposed department stores signed with DeBartolo. Randall Park Mall was built on the site of Randall Race Track, a horse racing park immediately south of Thistledown Race Track. During construction, DeBartolo was very flamboyant; he would arrive at the construction site in a helicopter. During tours, he entertained the media with lavish Italian dinners of pizza and pasta from top chefs. DeBartolo envisioned Randall Park as a "City within a City," with the mall, three 14-story apartments, two 20-story office buildings and a performing arts center (intended to compete with the Front Row Theater). At the time of its opening, it was the "world's largest shopping center," although the title was short-lived. The mall's architect, Frank DeBartolo (Edward's younger brother), opened the mall with actress Dina Merrill in 1976. At the time of its opening, North Randall's population was 1,500 and the mall's employee population was 5,000. The original department store anchors were Sears, JC Penney, May Company, Higbee's, and Horne's. Halle's maintained an option to build a store, but went out of business in 1982. Westfield Great Northern (formerly Great Northern Mall), in the west side suburb of North Olmsted, opened at about the same time as Randall Park. Nearby Euclid Square Mall is also a product of the mid-1970s mall building boom.

Movie Theaters
When opened in 1976, Randall Park had a unique 3-screen cinema run by General Cinemas. GCC operated this cinema in tandem with its two screens at nearby Southgate Plaza, effectively booking them as a 5-plex. The theater's "lobby" was one store front wide, with steep steps leading to the concession stand, then more steps to the screens themselves. From the exterior, it looks as though a separate building had been grafted onto the mall. The cinema became a second run theater in 1991, and closed in 1993. After that, and until the mall's closure, it was used as storage for Diamond's Men's Store (its next door neighbor in the mall). By the 2000s, Diamond's had extended their display window in front of the theater's entrance, and the cinema's steep blue steps could still be seen by looking through a door in the display. In 1999, Loew's opened a 12-screen Magic Johnson cinema in the space originally designated for the never-built Halle's anchor (on the opposite side of the mall from the original 3-screen, which remained a storage area). The theater was sold by Loew's in 2007, becoming "O Theater" (with the slogan "O what a bargain!"). O Theater offered first run movies at matinee prices, but their website and phone number were offline by late 2008 and the theater closed at some point after that.

Decline
Randall Mall's decline began in 1978 when upscale shoppers flocked to then-new Beachwood Place in Beachwood, Ohio. In the 1980s, Randall Park started having problems with truants and gangs from Cleveland. Auto thefts increased and with the gang problem, many middle- to upper-middle-class shoppers stayed away. The Club auto safety device was invented by a frustrated consumer after his father's car was stolen from RPM's parking lot. The manager of Father and Son shoes was found shot to death and stuffed in a snow bank in 1985. A riot and evacuation in 1989 (due to the mistaken belief that shots had been fired) further eroded the mall's reputation. On several occasions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, consumers were startled to find mannequins dressed in guard uniforms sitting in the parking lot guardshacks. The guardshacks had been installed by management to reassure the public over parking lot security since the area had grown seedy over the years. There were also well publicized cases of auto theft and physical assault on mall patrons. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, malls like nearby Southgate reinvented themselves by tearing down old department stores and building big box retailers such as Giant Eagle and Home Depot. In nearby Bedford, Meadowbrook Market Square opened in 1995 with a new Target. In Garfield Heights voters approved zoning issues to build City View and Bridgeview shopping centers. Down Northfield Road ( Ohio State Route 8), Macedonia Commons and the Plaza at Golden Link Crossings opened in Macedonia. In 1996, SouthPark Center opened in Strongsville, expanding in 2008. Beachwood Place expanded in 1999 with the addition of Northeast Ohio's first Nordstrom. Harvard Square ( Warrensville Heights) and Legacy Village (Lyndhurst) added to Randall Park's woes as stores began to leave the mall. The JC Penney, when open, was a 207,000-square-foot (19,200 m 2), two-story store. JC Penney converted to an outlet store format in October 1998, but closed in January 2001 due to falling sales. Dillard's closed its Randall Park Mall Store in 2002, shortly after, but not related to an incident in which a suspected shoplifter died from injuries related to his apprehension within the store after being released from the hospital. During the incident, an off-duty police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard apprehended a suspected shoplifter and injured him. The suspected shoplifter was treated in a hospital for injuries from the incident and later died after he was released . By 2003, about half the mall remained vacant, including the former Dillard's and JC Penney. In June 2007, it was announced that Cleveland-based trade school Ohio Technical College would acquire more than 200,000 square feet (19,000 m 2) of space at the mall. The school's Power Sports Institute would occupy the former JC Penney and Firestone Complete Auto Care areas. Macy's shuttered its Randall Park Mall in February 2008 due to poor sales. On May 21, 2008, North Randall mayor David Smith announced that Whichard Real Estate had decided to close the mall by June 12, 2008. The few dozen small stores inside the sprawling, mostly empty mall had until June 12 to close or move into empty storefronts on nearby roads. Burlington Coat Factory and Sears, which could be accessed from outside the mall, would stay open, as would the movie theater and Ohio Technical College's PowerSport Institute. County records showed the company owed more than $200,000 in unpaid property taxes and had taken out multiple mortgages on the mall. On June 5, 2008, it was announced that Randall Park Mall was being sold for an undisclosed sum to United Church Builders. The deal was expected to be finalized in the next 30 to 90 days. Ken Geis, CEO of UCB, felt it could be best suited for housing, education, research, and medical operations. As of May, 2009, UCB had not finalized the deal for the mall. On February 26, 2009, Sears announced that it would close its Randall Park location, as part of an effort to close 24 underperfoming Sears and Kmart locations across the country. This would be the last traditional anchor store to shutter its location at Randall Park. The store's last day of business was Sunday, June 14, 2009. The last of the remaining small inside stores closed or moved out in March, 2009, leaving the mall empty aside from Burlington Coat Factory, Ohio Technical College's satellite campus, and Furniture Mattress Liquidators, all of which have direct external access. All power to the mall was turned off in May, 2009.

Former anchors
  • Horne's (201,000 sq ft.) closed in 1992
  • JCPenney (207,000 sq ft.) closed in 2001
  • Dillard's (170,000 sq ft.) closed in 2003
  • Macy's (176,327 sq ft.) closed in 2008
  • Sears (285,702 sq ft.) closed in 2009
  • O Theater (? sq. ft.) closed in 2009


Current anchors
  • Burlington Coat Factory (163,486 sq ft.)
  • Ohio Furniture Mart (74,483 sq ft.)