By. Chris Stritzel
When the Crestwood Mall redevelopment plan was announced a little over 2 years ago, memories of the fun times I had at the mall when I was a little kid were brought back. It became surreal when the announcement was made to demolish the mall to make way for a mixed use neighborhood. In April of 2016, there was a "Food Truck Party on the Plaza" which signaled the end of the Mall's life and would make way for a Demolition Phase that is lasting not as long as what was expected. But now, with the malls demolition rapidly gaining speed, I think it is time to share my past two experiences of the last two Public days of the malls life. One from June 2013 and One from April 2016.
Lets Start with June of 2013. Me and my dad were out and about that day when, I remember it specifically, we were listening to 106.5 The Arch when the host lady came over after a commercial break and said that "today was the last day for the public to walk through Crestwood Mall before it is shuttered tomorrow, the 14th". So we drove over to the mall expecting to see some more cars there than usual since it was the last day. There were no more than 10 cars. The only store left was Lens Crafters which closed a month later. We parked and went into the mall at the only entrance still open, which was the one closest to the former Macy's store.
Upon walking in from the Hot and Humid outside we were greeted with paint peelings ion the floor from the ceiling and a very warm and humid inside. The Air Conditioning was turned off. We adventured through the mall and took photos. It was a very odd day to be in there. The mall was completely quiet except for the occasional sound of the "Ding-Dong" sound that the Lens Crafters store made whenever someone walked in. That sound echoed down the Mall Corridor.
As we continued to wonder around the mall, we came across the old stairs and elevator that went down to the food court. Back a few years prior to this, Me and my Dad came here and explored the former Crestwood Arcade. Oh my how times have changed since then. The Elevator was turned off and parked at the Lower Level forever but the lights were still on downstairs. The food court was barded up except for a hole in the wall where a door should be. We walked in and were greeted with a dark food court with the exception of one fluorescent light. Broken Glass was on the Floor and it stunk of the smell that restaurants make when they are not cleaned. The Humidity inside the mall didn't help at all.
We walked back up stairs and continued exploring where we were stopped by a Fence that had a sign on it that said "Public Safety Hazard, No One is allowed beyond this point". This was by the old Pasta House Restaurant in the Mall. We turned around and began to walk back the other way. We slowly walked back and would do so to remember this day as one that we will never forget. It was a place of childhood memories and history. As we walked out, we stopped by the entrance closest to where Dillards was and snapped a picture of the inside with the soaring Ceiling. After this, we want home for the day where I shared a video of mine on another YouTube Account that I was not affiliated with at the time.
In the beginning of 2016, the Owners of the mall (UrbanStreet Group) announced that they were planning a Food Truck Party on the Plaza to celebrate the official end of the malls life. The parking lot on the plaza was full of cars and people. Other people were loading across Watson Road on another lot and waking across. That is exactly what we did. Upon entering into the Mall's boundaries, we went over by the food trucks. We immediately gave up on trying to get something to eat because of the extremely long lines.
So we decided to go over to explore the outer ring of the mall. We followed other people into the Parking. Garage portion of the Mall. We explored the Mall and climbed around the garage. It was full of over grown grass, mud and has trees in it. After exploring down there, we went back up on top and ended up by the Dillard's Store. So I decided to go and peer into the window where I took the picture 3 years prior. The results of the urban decay was shocking. The picture below shows that.
Another symbol of Urban Decay is the former sears store. The 2 images below show the same location in 2013 and 2016. It is amazing what happens to Buildings when we humans are not there to help take care of them.
We left that day with a fun memory of exploring the garage and it gave us something to talk about for months. Now, nearly a year later since that party, the malls demolition is accelerating. The old Dillard's store is completely gone as well as a majority of the mall. The Old Sears and Macy's but besides that, it is almost nearly gone. The video at the beginning of this post shows the Ahrens Demolition machine ripping a roof down and ripping a metal beam out of the building. There were about 7 other machines that were smaller and cleaning up the debris on the site.
The future is uncertain for this mall considering how the developer has only made a site plan available with no Renderigns as to how the project will look. This issue will surely make the neighbors and others in the region very angry at the developer. When the Demolition is completed in July of this year, construction on the new complex will begin almost immediately and should be completed sometime in 2019.
Below are images I took from 2013, 2016 & February 17th 2017.