Thursday, April 02, 2009

"The Best Buy That Never Was."

Can a mall be classified dead if it hasn't even opened yet? The News and Observer reports on a Raleigh, North Carolina mall that has nearly completed construction but has zero tenants committed to occupying its 107,000 square feet of retail space.

In an amazing display of understatement, the story blames "bad breaks and unfortunate timing," for the disastrous set of circumstances that has befallen Alexander Place Crossing (the perfect, ridiculous name for a mall conceived and constructed after the mall era has already ended), which in October of 2007 had secured Best Buy as an anchor store. Best Buy's involvement convinced other retail outlets to sign on, but then it was learned local regulations outlawed Best Buy's gigantic, garish signage from taking up a demanded 700 square feet of space. Best Buy bowed out, and then so did everyone else, the developer already having spent millions on construction.

The News and Observer's Jack Hagel waxes poetic on the current state of the deadmall-to-be:
"Today, a 30,000-square-foot box, the Best Buy that never was, sits dark. Its deep blue and egg yolk-yellow skin dictates the design of other empty store fronts, including one with a shattered window. Grass grows in an almost-finished parking lot."
As America's love affair with the doomed and destructive suburban shopping mall becomes an ever-dimmer memory in the rear-view mirror of cars that will soon run out of gas for good, let us pause and reflect on the brilliance of a writer who could wring such touching prose out of the sight of a gaudy Best Buy sign.

Oh, to live in a world where one could see that nightmarish tribute to consumer excess as "deep blue and egg-yolk-yellow," and not as a warning of impending doom for a country bent on destroying itself as spectacularly as possible. Rather than a tragic collapse of retail hopes and dreams, one might view the ironic tale of Alexander Place Crossing as a bullet, dodged. Barely.

To quote James Howard Kunstler, "Ridicule is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous."

Ridicule, and a zero-percent tenancy rate, apparently.

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Blogger Nigel said...

I live in Raleigh, but somehow overlooked this story. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. The developers were incredibly stupid to write a contract based on signage that was against city ordinances, but they weren't quite so stupid to attempt putting some more big box retail in that particular location. The Best Buy-anchored strip mall would have been just one small part of a large existing shopping complex which was quite popular throughout the past decade (not that I'm celebrating it by any means...I think it qualifies as typically short-sighted Raleigh sprawl). The photo run by the N&O does seem to illustrate a lonely, orphaned big box in the middle of nowhere, but that's not quite the case. Here's a map of the area in all its sprawl-a-licious glory:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:41:00 PM  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

Thanks for providing some context, Nigel! Much appreciated.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 6:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Pritchett said...

Best Buy on Brier Creek is now open...Grand Opening set for July 11th.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 1:13:00 AM  

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