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Mith242

Arkansas' First Mall is Dead

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I knew it was early but I guess I didn't realize that the Phoenix Village Mall in Ft Smith was Arkansas' first mall. It opened in 1970. It hadn't been doing very well for a long time. I remember going there around 10 to 12 years ago and even then quite a bit of it was empty then. Here's an article at Arkansas Business talking about it.

http://arkansasbusiness.com/article.aspx?l...06.48722.107432

Here's also a related link showing the biggest malls in Arkansas.

http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/news/print...gest_malls1.pdf

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I'm a fan of that website. You can find Little Rock's University Mall there as well.

I am too. Shreveport's South Park Mall (now Summer Grove Baptist Church) is on there and that's how I originally discovered the site a few years back.

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There's no entry for it (maybe I should write one) but the Southwest Mall which had a number of stores and a movie theater dwindled and became vacant in LR and was later reborn as the Arkansas State Police HQs and from I-30 now looks like it was built for that purpose. Little Rock also had the Main Street Mall which was an early 1980s attempt to revitalize downtown LR that died as soon as it was born and was (and still is) used for office space.

I have to admit, conversion to a church is interesting. I hadn't heard that one.

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There's no entry for it (maybe I should write one) but the Southwest Mall which had a number of stores and a movie theater dwindled and became vacant in LR and was later reborn as the Arkansas State Police HQs and from I-30 now looks like it was built for that purpose. Little Rock also had the Main Street Mall which was an early 1980s attempt to revitalize downtown LR that died as soon as it was born and was (and still is) used for office space.

I have to admit, conversion to a church is interesting. I hadn't heard that one.

Hey I actually remember the Southwest Mall. I remember going there once as a kid.

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There's no entry for it (maybe I should write one) but the Southwest Mall which had a number of stores and a movie theater dwindled and became vacant in LR and was later reborn as the Arkansas State Police HQs and from I-30 now looks like it was built for that purpose. Little Rock also had the Main Street Mall which was an early 1980s attempt to revitalize downtown LR that died as soon as it was born and was (and still is) used for office space.

I have to admit, conversion to a church is interesting. I hadn't heard that one.

Yep, it's very interesting indeed. It's now a nearly 1,000,000 sq. ft. church facility. What was once JC Penney is now the sanctuary. Here are a few photos:

136250527.jpg

136250506.jpg

136250533.jpg

There is actually still one store open inside the building, which is surprising, and that is Burlington Coat Factory. Why it's been allowed to stay after everything else was forced to move is unknown to me. The old Piccadilly Cafeteria is now the church-run Manna House restaurant. The rest of the facility houses what was once the mall's movie theater, which now shows Christian movies to church members and a huge church daycare in what was once a department store. In the long-term, the church plans to open a number of Christian stores in spaces formerly occupied by other small stores.

Anyway, back onto the subject at hand, maybe you SHOULD write an entry for Southwest Mall. I'm VERY familiar with the Arkansas State Police headquarters off I-30 in Little Rock and had NO idea it was ever a mall!!

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Yep, it's very interesting indeed. It's now a nearly 1,000,000 sq. ft. church facility. What was once JC Penney is now the sanctuary. Here are a few photos:

136250527.jpg

136250506.jpg

136250533.jpg

There is actually still one store open inside the building, which is surprising, and that is Burlington Coat Factory. Why it's been allowed to stay after everything else was forced to move is unknown to me. The old Piccadilly Cafeteria is now the church-run Manna House restaurant. The rest of the facility houses what was once the mall's movie theater, which now shows Christian movies to church members and a huge church daycare in what was once a department store. In the long-term, the church plans to open a number of Christian stores in spaces formerly occupied by other small stores.

Anyway, back onto the subject at hand, maybe you SHOULD write an entry for Southwest Mall. I'm VERY familiar with the Arkansas State Police headquarters off I-30 in Little Rock and had NO idea it was ever a mall!!

Thanks for posting this, it's very interesting.

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I remember Phoenix Village Mall always had a funny smell to it, like burnt popcorn. My favorite place to go to was Aladdin's Castle Arcade back before Nintendo and Playstations became mainstream. Some of the stores I remember were Venture (before Wal-Mart put them out of business), Hunts, Beall-Ladymon, Hancock Fabrics, Radio Shack, there was a pet store and a Hallmark store but don't remember what they were called, Dairy Queen, Furrs Cafeteria, Frougs Department store and of course the two screen movie theatre with the horrible sound system. I think the decline of Phoenix Village Mall started when Hancock Fabrics moved and then the domino effect took over from there. Frougs closed up, then Hunts, Dairy Queen, and then another strange thing happened... Venture decided to keep their mall entrance doors locked so you had to exit Venture from the front, and walk around to the nearest mall entrance doors which made a very big inconvenience to mall shoppers.

I was inside over the winter of 2006, and the heat and lights were both turned off in the mall. The only store or businesses left was a hair styling place at one of the entrances, a bank, an indoor skate park, and the doctors office (which I heard were moving to a new location). First thing i noticed was the funky smell i always remembered was gone, and noticed all the water damaged holes in the ceiling. It really is a shame the mall is dead, but it was situated in an awkward area. The mall itself always felt like it was in a 70-ish style time warp even before Central Mall was remodeled and there weren't many stores catered to the younger crowd.

I think the only way to revive the mall is to tear down the eye soar known as Phoenix Village Square to give the mall more exposure.

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Does the Square somewhat block the Mall or does it just make it look bad just being near it?

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I remember Phoenix Village Mall always had a funny smell to it, like burnt popcorn. My favorite place to go to was Aladdin's Castle Arcade back before Nintendo and Playstations became mainstream. Some of the stores I remember were Venture (before Wal-Mart put them out of business), Hunts, Beall-Ladymon, Hancock Fabrics, Radio Shack, there was a pet store and a Hallmark store but don't remember what they were called, Dairy Queen, Furrs Cafeteria, Frougs Department store and of course the two screen movie theatre with the horrible sound system. I think the decline of Phoenix Village Mall started when Hancock Fabrics moved and then the domino effect took over from there. Frougs closed up, then Hunts, Dairy Queen, and then another strange thing happened... Venture decided to keep their mall entrance doors locked so you had to exit Venture from the front, and walk around to the nearest mall entrance doors which made a very big inconvenience to mall shoppers.

I was inside over the winter of 2006, and the heat and lights were both turned off in the mall. The only store or businesses left was a hair styling place at one of the entrances, a bank, an indoor skate park, and the doctors office (which I heard were moving to a new location). First thing i noticed was the funky smell i always remembered was gone, and noticed all the water damaged holes in the ceiling. It really is a shame the mall is dead, but it was situated in an awkward area. The mall itself always felt like it was in a 70-ish style time warp even before Central Mall was remodeled and there weren't many stores catered to the younger crowd.

I think the only way to revive the mall is to tear down the eye soar known as Phoenix Village Square to give the mall more exposure.

dj,

Wasn't there a place in the mid-80s called "Ipalliacci's popcorn" somewhere there in the middle of that mall? I think that may have been responsible for the odor.

Phoenix Village was indeed a "throwback" kind of place...there was a hardware store there in the PV part that had an office on the second floor with windows open to the whole store, giving the manager a view of anything in his shop if he wanted to watch it.

What Fort Smith / Northwest Arkansas was then and what it is now is still one of America's fascinating stories, IMO...used to be one felt that the world was passing all of the area by (not that that was a bad thing)...now it feels like the world is coming to NWA/FSM's doorstep even if it's walking right on by Phoenix Village Mall...

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dj,

Wasn't there a place in the mid-80s called "Ipalliacci's popcorn" somewhere there in the middle of that mall? I think that may have been responsible for the odor.

Phoenix Village was indeed a "throwback" kind of place...there was a hardware store there in the PV part that had an office on the second floor with windows open to the whole store, giving the manager a view of anything in his shop if he wanted to watch it.

What Fort Smith / Northwest Arkansas was then and what it is now is still one of America's fascinating stories, IMO...used to be one felt that the world was passing all of the area by (not that that was a bad thing)...now it feels like the world is coming to NWA/FSM's doorstep even if it's walking right on by Phoenix Village Mall...

YES!!! I do remember that popcorn stand, but I don't think I ever saw it in operation or in use, it sat between the pet store and Cowan Jewelry. Do you remember any other store names besides the ones I mentioned that were open in the 80's. In that time of life, I didn't pay much attention to what all was there except the Arcade and Dairy Queen. I also remember that every mall I had ever visited had some sort of water feature, ie water fountain. PVM had a very lame water fall across from the arcade against the wall between the movie theatre and Cucos that was usually turned off or just trickling. As for the square, I (or should I say my parents) never shopped at any stores there except for OTASCO before they went out-of-business, that was another great store back in the day too.

Mith242, the answer to your question is both, IMO. The only indication the mall was there is the Phoenix Village Mall Sign on Towson Ave, which stood next to several other business signs or if you drove down Phoenix Ave, which didn't really go anywhere beyond Towson, you would drive by the side of the Venture Store.

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Does anyone remember the other mall in LR? My dad used to take me there to see the talking Christmas tree. It was on I-30 near the Saline County line. I can't recall the name now, but its a "convention center" now. Its really home to the Memphis flea market... What was its name?

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Does anyone remember the other mall in LR? My dad used to take me there to see the talking Christmas tree. It was on I-30 near the Saline County line. I can't recall the name now, but its a "convention center" now. Its really home to the Memphis flea market... What was its name?

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I've been calling around trying to figure what the name was. It was a mall at one time but its stint was short lived. The talking tree was actually at Southwest Mall as my dad pointed out to me. I remember Target at the Southwest Mall too. I was always excited to get to goto Little Rock. I lived in Benton, but we didn't venture up that way all too frequently back then.

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Has there been any recent news about Phoenix Village being redeveloped?

The location isn't the greatest, but it's not bad either. It's a couple miles from I-540 and the new Target shopping center and US 71B (Towson) is pretty run down, but the location is also bordered by three busy five-lane roads. It would make a good location for mixed office/retail if they could find a company willing to relocate.

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Has there been any recent news about Phoenix Village being redeveloped?

The location isn't the greatest, but it's not bad either. It's a couple miles from I-540 and the new Target shopping center and US 71B (Towson) is pretty run down, but the location is also bordered by three busy five-lane roads. It would make a good location for mixed office/retail if they could find a company willing to relocate.

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