Thursday, June 29, 2017

Irondequoit Mall/Medley Centre, Irondequoit, NY : Malls to Just Walls S1E1

     While I can't visit a mall everyday, there are some I have no chance to get to anyway. That's the case with today's post.
     The start of a mall's life doesn't always mean it will last. Those words were the case of the Irondequoit Mall. After a promising start, the mall crashed, burned, and fell into irrelevancy. Yet this didn't go without documentation. There seems to be a glut of information on this shopping center on the interwebs. News articles,, other blogs, you name it. Controversy clouded the mall and its owners more than a typical Seattle day. It's an example of nearly every dead mall type : anchors outlived the mall, other malls got better, controversy, market oversaturation in a dying town (I apologize to any Seattle or Rochester residents), etc. Needless to say, the centre has one wild history.
      Plans for the mall were first announced in 1985. Wilmorite Properties, the creator of two other Rochester shopping centers, had proposed to build a center there throughout the 1980's. The reason that it took five years to work wasn't about construction for the most part. Legal action took small delays on Wilmorite. Residents attempted to block the project, and another mall developer threatened to take things to court. A public meeting about the project took over six hours and was overfilled. The state Supreme Court finally gave Wilmorite the ability to construct the mall. The town supervisor in 1987 turned out to have a partnership in a shopping center planned across the street of the mall site, but the problem was solved when he sold the interest.
     In May 1988, the anchors were announced: Sears, JCPenney, and Sibley's. During the time, May Company was consolidating their store names, so Sibley's became Kaufmann's. This was a bit of a disappointment, as Sibley's was a loved company in the area. Finally, in 1990, the mall's construction would be finished. The construction costs added up to $80 million dollars, but it seemed very much worth it from the start. After the first weekend, it was estimated 80,000 customers visited the mall, raking in $4 million dollars in revenue. Located on major roads - East Ridge Road and NY 104 - the mall had a premier location. Many were within easy reach of the mall.

An aerial shot of the new Irondequoit Mall in 1990.
Aerial photo of mall when it first opened. Sears and Kaufmann's names are visible. Photo from Democrat and Chronicle.

     Irondequoit Mall opened as Rochester's first two-story mall. The design was "open and airy", as customers called it. Impressive skylights lined the roof. The wide U shaped mall had Kaufmann's to the west, JCP in the middle, and Sears to the north. The mall contained two separate courts, with a large fountain in the middle. A food court was located at the top of a court. An Iroquois-inspired carousel was located on the second floor, and could be seen from the highway.

Center court of the Irondequoit Mall in 1992.
A 1992 view of the fountain in center court. Democrat and Chronicle.

     The 1990's brought the first wave of changes for the Irondequoit Mall, some good, some bad. A small expansion in 1992 brought Rochester-based McCurdy's to the anchor roster. Unfortunately, McCurdy's was on a course that led to it's purchase by Wisconsin and Pennsylvania-based Bon-Ton Stores. In 1995, Bon-Ton replaced the existing McCurdy's with a Bon-Ton (if it sounds weird, the company owns a few other stores).
     While the mall enjoyed great success early on, in 1995, the tide turned for the center. Tremendous growth was occurring in neighboring Ontario County, and located there was Wilmorite's Eastview Mall. Eastview was looking dated, and Wilmorite knew the money a renovation there would bring. And that's just what they did. Yet another life-changing event happened for the mall the same year. Greece Ridge Mall formed after the grouping of two malls across the street of each other expanded, essentially sewing them together. The compounded improvement of the malls led to Irondequoit Mall falling to third in Rochester malls. It would turn out that Wilmorite did too well, as Eastview took out the customer base for Irondequoit Mall.

Stores line a mall corridor. Photo by Prange Way in 2010.
     What mainly killed the mall were lies, and I mean that literally (what most websites say about the mall's death is true, that wasn't what I meant). Non-existent crime and race problems killed off the mall. The expansions and renovations of the aforementioned malls caused downtown's Midtown Plaza to die off, leading shoppers in the area to go to Irondequoit Mall, two miles from Midtown Plaza. The area around the mall was filled with harmless Latino folks trying to do their shopping. Yet in normal fashion the more affluent people avoided the mall as the Hispanics tended to speak Spanish in groups. This concerned a few others going about their shopping. Loitering was a problem in the parking lot, which didn't help the image. This started a whisper campaign through the shoppers.

Photo of a wing with a shuttered Steve and Barry's at the end. Photo by Prange Way.
     It became legend that the area the mall was in suffered high crime rates. Shoppers were supposedly harassed by gangs and car theft rings somehow reached the press. And in normal fashion, little research is done by the press and false information flooded the scene. Rumors of a rape in the parking lot came up, which is a decent reason to not shop at a mall if it really happened. To respond to this, Wilmorite improved security, disproved these claims, and several positive articles were posted in the same papers, same TV channels (back to my statement about the press not doing research). All it takes is for a perception to form, and once it does, there's no way to stop it.
     Funny thing is, these crimes didn't happen. None of them.

2007 Wikipedia picture of the main entrance. Steve and Barry's was open
at the time.
Another Prange Way/Labelscar photo. Indoor entrance to the Bon-Ton.
     The customers left as the retailers did. It started slow "as a trickle" and then the dam broke "as a flood." A 2000 count had the mall at 78% occupancy. Wilmorite execs called the mall 'barely profitable." Rumors said that the mall may close. This was only 11 years after the grand opening. 

Undated Wikimedia Commons photo. New Foot Locker, Journeys,
and Starbucks look and a Godiva has me confused. Definitely the same mall.

     As a sign of things to come, JCPenney left in 2003. Only two years before, the mall was sold to an insurance group and Equitable, an Atlanta-based real estate firm, who isn't a stranger to purchasing dead malls. And when Penney's closed, a dead mall is what it was, with a 20% occupancy rate. Developers were ready to knock the mall out of its misery with a new mall in nearby Webster. This was an awful idea anyway, and if it wasn't dead by now, miracles can really happen. Victoria's Secret, Waldenbooks, and Ruby Tuesday were out after 2004. The inevitable was soon to come.

Food court with a few seniors relaxing. This will be VERY important soon.
From WOTL.

     In 2005, Syracuse developer Adam Bersin purchased the mall for $5 million dollars with plenty of tax incentives. Bersin made promises of a $44 million dollar renovation, yet it would never be fully fulfilled. What first happened was a renaming. Irondequoit Mall was now Medley Centre - "New York's Shopping Spree." By early 2007, the mall had actually improved. Steve and Barry's was filling the former JCPenney space. A Target opened in the parking lot in 2006, but it's a mystery if it helped or harmed the mall. A playground was constructed on the first level of the mall, and I think fixing the mall long-term would start there. A top-shelf Halloween celebration was placed in a wing in October 2006. The same year also brought the renaming of Kaufmann's to Federated's Macy's Department Store.

Very depressing photo of the MedleyKids play area after
the mall's closure. Photo from RochesterSubway

     Adam Bersin had a much less successful run as it seemed though. Directories and advertisements were out of date. Places shown were often closed forever. Mall occupancy didn't improve, and some of the stores open were pretty different - language school, security guard school, and the like. In his tenure, it was possible to walk for an hour and not see anyone. Though the mall showed obvious upkeep, it didn't stop the declining occupancy. The year of 2007 brought the leaving of The Bon-Ton, citing low sales. Sadly, it was partially Bersin's fault of the closure.
     Something that came with new ownership was new policies. Bersin banned the regulars - seniors playing chess and other games together in the food court. While seeing a social club isn't exactly exciting, it gave the mall a little life and business for the eateries. I can see seniors shopping in The Bon-Ton or Sears. They have to wear something. This decision left only mall walkers as the only regulars.
A Labelscar photo of a sign about the new policies.
     After the closure of the Steve and Barry's in 2007, Bersin put the mall up on the market. The buyer was Scott Congel, a Syracuse developer, for $4.7 million dollars. While the plans were originally secret, it was leaked in 2008 that Regal Cinemas was close to a deal with Congel. The new theatres were to be in the former Bon-Ton space. Along with leaks was a document of the master plans - essentially turning the mall into an indoor lifestyle center complete with 30-story hotel. Then-town supervisor Mary Heyman called the plans "sketchy." Yet Congel received tax abatement in 2009. He kicked out every remaining tenant except for the open anchors, and padlocked the doors. He made it past regulations and rezoning, and the project was on the road.

     A new theatre was proposed at the site, but it would be Broadway-style with an event center and rehearsal areas. While the newly-elected town supervisor Mary D'Auzirio originally wanted it in downtown, she eventually jumped on board with putting it at the new center. By 2010, nothing at all had happened. D'Auzirio and Congel met to discuss the delay, but the former came out saying that she was optimistic, and Congel was just "readjusting the tenants."


     The truth was, Congel had yet to file for demolition and other permits because they expired. And soon after that, the Broadway theatre was awarded a location in the closed Midtown Plaza. Buuuuuuttttt, just after that, a lawsuit was filed against Congel that he failed to pay a snow removal company. Let's keep in mind that upstate New York is pretty snowy. But hey, Medley Centre was renamed Lake Ridge Center in 2010, so hey, progress!

A recent view at the abandoned mall. From Democrat and Chronicle
     Nothing ever happened on the mall site. Some structures would be destroyed between East Ridge Road and the mall, but if it didn't happen in the courts, it didn't happen at all. Lawsuits marked the next six years, mainly on unpaid expenses and taxes. The year 2014 brought the closure of Macy's, and a severe water pipe burst partially flooded the mall. And 2016 had the closure of Sears, the final tenant.
     A shred of good news came in the form of a new tenant in 2017. Xerox is set to open up a call center in the former Sears. And only recently the mall was purchased for a bargain of $100,000. Expectations are low, but it's something isn't it? Any redevelopment would have serious consequences on the overretailed city. In my opinion, an industrial park combined with retail is probably the best idea. It isn't unrealistic, and not as much retail wouldn't kill off any other struggling strip centers. The industrial park would help a working-class city, and provide a few jobs. Step one is there with the call center. What else would you put there?

~swervy~. Photo from RochesterSubway

Congel's mall plans in model form. RochesterSubway

UPDATED 7/2/17 : In 2015, the Medley Centre was awarded the "Best Local Eyesore", in the Rochester newspaper. I intended to put that in the post originally, but it skipped my mind.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SkyMall Home


to SkyMall


All photos from Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons


Photos from Wikipedia / Wikia.logos / Wikimedia Commons



Photo from Business Insider



- Comprehensive histories on historic stores and restaurants

- Commentaries on Shopping Centers

-Commentaries on Abandoned Airports

-Pictures of these airports, logos, and malls

-Constant updates to already posted material

-Fact-checked informative facts

-Recent posts to current series

Photo from Mall Hall of Fame

SkyMall will take you from:

Denver's Stapleton Airport

Photo from Wikimapia
To Akron's Rolling Acres Mall

Photo from
Down I-71 to Cincinnati's Shillito Department Store

Photo from Pinterest
Into the South for Stone Mountain Memorial Airport

And back west for Los Angeles' The Broadway Store

Photo from The Department Store Museum


- While we try to be as true as possible, I can guarantee there may be something false on this blog.
As more information is confirmed true or false, these facts will be fixed ASAP.

- Some photos on this site have no credit or vague credit. If you own one of these photos, let me
know and credit will be given.

- On the other hand, if you are the owner of one of these photos and want your picture
taken down, I will do so as long as I can confirm you are the true owner.

- Spam comments will be filtered out.

- Something may be mentioned that doesn't have a post yet. This site is always a work in progress.


SkyMall features a 1-5 scale for grading malls.


Grade 1 Malls are top-tier upscale malls with upscale anchors.

Examples include:

Atlanta's Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square

Charlotte's SouthPark Mall

Possible Tenants Include :

Saks Fifth Avenue
Neiman Marcus
Restoration Hardware
Traditional Mall Store though 2 stories


Top-tier mall including one or two upscale anchors with few vacancies and upscale tenants. Upper/middle market.


Middle-class mall with traditional anchors, few vacancies but a few mom+pop shops. New competition could kill off mall.


Lower class mall with an anchor vacancy or two. 25% national chains. No or one national chain in food court if there is one. Mainly mom and pop or vacant.


Dead mall on life support. One or no anchors open. Nothing or one food court eatery.  Most vacant, with very little national or mom and pop presence. 


In this system of grading, there is decimal grading. This means just below 2.5 (maybe 2.2) is probably a grade for your traditional outlet mall. A 1.5 mall would be about half upper-class, half middle market.


Here is a copy and paste of the original greeting. Exciting.

Greetings to those that have discovered this blog. Here at SkyMall, I try to deliver information about retail and abandoned aviation in a different fashion. Some day I may rate cities in retail or deliver a commentary on an abandoned airports. I hope you find this way interesting and that you take time to view my blog.
     I can't guarantee often postings on this blog. I have school and travel a lot, so while I will try to post often, don't be worried if a week or two goes by between posts. The good news is that with my travels, I can reach out to new areas and post on locations there.
     I am new to blogging, so I will be learning as I go along. Because of this, excuse any technical mistakes. I will be constantly making updates to this site, so if anything looks different, it may be temporary.
     Feel free to comment any missing information. I will set up a business email once the blog is fully running. You can send any photos or questions to that. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated. I also may set up a way to donate later on, as this site is ad-free and domains cost money.

What you may see on this blog:

- Lists/rankings/ratings on aviation or retail

-Commentaries on malls/retail

-Commentaries on airports

-Consistent updates

-Timelines on aviation or retail

-Pictures on aviation or retail

Hope you enjoy'



Press this for earlier posts under that label.

Photo from Mall Hall of Fame


As you may have noticed, there are links under the "Friends of Skymall" label to the right. Clicking on these links will lead you to similar pages like SkyMall. Many of these people inspired this site and they deserve a shoutout for their work.


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Here's what you'll find here:

The Alive:

The Struggling:


The Dead:

And the Airports:

How many times can use these photos?


Monday, June 26, 2017

Shillito's of Cincinnati : Weekend Shopping E1S1

     This post may be the first of a series about little-known department stores and their deep histories. First up will be the department store of Shillito's (pronounced shil-uh-toes). Shillito's is an example of a classic 20th century department store, being more local and eventually being purchased by a larger company. That larger company (spoiler alert) Macy's, would be the buyer and turn it into their company. But, the history is much more than that.
     The John Shillito Company had pretty humble roots. "The Pioneer Merchant" came to Cincinnati in 1817 from his hometown in Pennsylvania. Though very young, being nine years at the time, he would quickly join the team at local shop Blatchley and Simpson. In 1830, he would leave his job at Blatchley's and meet with another merchant in James McLaughlin. The John Shillito - James McLaughlin partnership would only survive a year though. Despite the departure, a new Shillito, Burnett, and Pullen match was found. Land was secured for the company on the other side of Main Street, but was superseded when Shillito bought out his partners in 1837. Instead, he moved to a large store on Fourth Street.
     Only 20 years after the Fourth Street move, the company would move yet again, this time across the street into a new 5-story building. But Shillito's was still in need of more space, and in 1878 they would move again into their historic 6-story, 800,000 square feet hub designed by James McLaughlin's son. A famous landmark of the new building was its stunning octagonal light with its gothic details.
     Shortly after the opening of the new store, John Shillito would die at age 71. The business was taken over by Shillito's sons. Stewart Shillito took complete control in 1899, and discontinued the wholesale operation in 1913.
     The 1920's were no friends to the company. A fabrics price crash had the store filled with overpriced goods. The store fell in the Cincinnati department store hierarchy from first to fourth. It wasn't a concrete fact that Shillito's would see its centennial birthday.
     The Lazarus family operated a family-named department store in Columbus, OH. Many Cincinnatians believed Shillito's was a building of overpriced goods. However, that was soon to change. Lazarus took over Shillito's in 1928, introducing them to Cincinnati - based Federated Department Stores. The leader of Shillito's at the time quickly retired following the purchase. The new store opened up shop on November 11, 1928. Loaded with new merchandise and a new tea room, the new Shillito's was an instant hit.
     Interestingly, the store did great through the Depression Era. Shillito's yet again found themselves tight for space. The store would expand in 1937. Part of the expansion became a parking garage, an innovation at the time.
     Business would keep booming, and a new building was purchased kitty-corner across Elm Street. The former garage became more retail space. The old garage was expanded in 1956, and the top floor would hold offices for Shillito's parent company, Federated Department Stores. 
     For competition, other Cincy stores expanded into the suburbs as Shillito's stayed at one store. But Shillito's eventually jumped on board at the Tri-County Mall in 1960. Shillito's would continue anchor malls, including some in Kentucky.
     With the 80's came the dark ages of anchor consolidation. In 1982, Shillito's purchased Dayton - based rival Rike's, forming Shillito - Rike's. Only four years later, savior Lazarus purchased Shillito's dropping the latter's nameplate. It was instead called Lazarus - Macy's until 2005, when Macy's took over the nameplate. 


     Despite the sad death and decline of Cincinnati's hometown store, you can see the remnants if you know where to look. The former downtown store has become loft apartments called "The Lofts at Shillito Place." The octagonal light still remains at the building. Behind Fayette Mall in Lexington, KY, where a former Shillito's location existed, is Shillito Park Road. John Shillito and his family were known as model Cincinnati citizens, and they showed so by embracing the African - American community by offering credit and jobs. 


- Florence Mall, Florence, Kentucky, 1977

- Jefferson Mall, Louisville, Kentucky, 1979

- Tri-County Mall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1960

- Fayette Mall, Lexington, Kentucky, 1971

- Oxmoor Mall, Louisville, Kentucky, 1970

- Beechmont Mall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1969

- Kenwood Mall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1966

- Western Woods, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1963

Early logo. The Department Store Museum

60's era logo. The Department Store Museum

Final and personal favorite logo. Sleek. The Department Store Museum


Stone Mountain-Britt Memorial Airport

     If you ever wanted to see a forgotten airport, then you've found one. Despite being located in a suburban area of Atlanta, little people know of its existence. Located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Stone Mountain-Britt Memorial Airport is an airfield consisting of one paved N-S runway, with a crosswind grass runway, and a paved ramp and taxiway.
     While the date of construction is unknown, aerial photos suggest that around 1957, the paved runway was constructed. However, it took until 1964 before it was featured on an aeronautical chart. The mid 60's brought a grass runway going along Bermuda Road and runway lights.
     Access to the field was from Bermuda Road, once part of US 78. A driveway to the field was constructed eventually, and today is a small clearing. The field was attended during the day, and many services, including refueling, were provided. The airport would be leased for another 20 years, as announced in 1967. At this point, the runway was 2,600 feet long, with high tension wires at one end.
     The airport would be sold in the mid-80's. Sometime around here, the grass runway stopped being used. However, the airport still appeared to be in good use through the early 90's. Sadly, things were about to come to a halt at the airfield.
     The airport would see its demise in 1996. It was converted into parking for events at the Atlanta Olympic Games, at the near (now abandoned) Lincoln Tennis Center. By 2002, all airport buildings had been removed. However, by 2006, a model RC airplane club had repaved part of the strip and used it for their activities. Today, the club still uses part of the strip, but most of the taxiway and runway have deteriorated beyond reuse.

- Sorry for the short article. It was tough to find information on the airstrip.
View down the parallel taxiway.
Zoomed-in view down the airport. You can barely make out
where the buildings and ramp were.

Looking down the former paved 17/35 runway.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

How to View a Certain Post / Navigating the Blog

      As I have said, I am new to blogging. What I struggle at currently is being able to make a page link to a list of pages on that subject. BUT, I think there is no need for that anymore. What I have done is provided labels, a search bar all the way at the bottom, and a blog archive.

And, no, that isn't all the posts. Simply click "OLDER POSTS" to reach posts from an earlier date.

Photo from Mall Hall of Fame


     As you may notice, there is a labels section to the right of the page. If you are looking for any certain keyword or tag, it will be listed there. If you live in North Carolina, you may want to click on the North Carolina label for example. Also in the labels will be 3 main labels. Those will be Other Retail, Abandoned Airports, and Shopping Centers. All airports would be under the "Abandoned Airport" designation and same with the others.


     Another feature to the right is the blog archive. While it would be tougher to find anything certain in that way, you can still scroll through and view various posts. A reminder is that earlier posts will be of lesser quality.


     All the way to the bottom is where you will find a search bar. From here you can type a keyword and find articles. For example, searching "Montgomery Ward" will lead you to articles with that keyword.


     And one quick reminder on where to look for contact information.
Phone quality 10/10.


Contact Me

This post will be updated and expanded as more contact ways are established.

Business Email:

FB Group:


If anything, comment on my latest post.

Rating Retail in Southeastern Cities : Part 1

     To keep up my promise of delivering subjects in different ways, today we will rate southeastern US cities in retail.

Methodology of grading:

- Number of dying/live shopping centers

- Hometown stores

- Future of retail


     Atlanta is given a B+ rating. Atlanta has plenty of top-tier malls in Lenox Square, Perimeter Mall, Mall of Georgia, and a few others but has been historically overmalled. This means the best of the bunch have a large difference between the worst. As for hometown stores, The Home Depot and Haverty's Furniture are the frontrunners, but the losses of Rich's and Davison's tick the grading downward. The future is unclear with the city's large growth occurring, but the best malls will most likely continue to thrive.


     Miami is given an A rating. Most malls in Miami are in their prime and Miami has the third largest mall in America (Aventura Mall). What holds Miami from an A+ is the lack of hometown stores. It's probable that as the city continues to grow, the malls will continue to prosper.


     Columbia's harsh rating is because of it's lack in all 3 criteria. Columbiana Centre is the only long-term mall in the area, with everything else dying. Tapp's lasted waaaayy back, but is gone now. Columbia is supposed to see huge growth in the next decade, but will the malls come back? Highly unlikely.


      Charlotte and Atlanta have very similar retail situations. Charlotte has solid malls in SouthPark and Northlake but has lived though Charlottetowne and Eastgate. Charlotte is the location for Belk and Cato Fashions. Like Atlanta, Charlotte has seen constant growth but it's unknown how that will affect the retail.


     Birmingham is no stranger to tough times with retail. Riverchase and Brookwood Village are the only survivors out of the other demolished malls and declining ones. Pizitz and Parisian once called Birmingham home, but have been purchased. Birmingham is mainly struggling as a city, so it won't be a surprise if what it keeps leaves.

Note: While TN, KY, parts of FL, MS, and LA are in the southeast, they will featured in a later post.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


     Greetings to those that have discovered this blog. Here at SkyMall, I try to deliver information about retail and abandoned aviation in a different fashion. Some day I may rate cities in retail or deliver a commentary on an abandoned airports. I hope you find this way interesting and that you take time to view my blog.
     I can't guarantee often postings on this blog. I have school and travel a lot, so while I will try to post often, don't be worried if a week or two goes by between posts. The good news is that with my travels, I can reach out to new areas and post on locations there.
     I am new to blogging, so I will be learning as I go along. Because of this, excuse any technical mistakes. I will be constantly making updates to this site, so if anything looks different, it may be temporary.
     Feel free to comment any missing information. I will set up a business email once the blog is fully running. You can send any photos or questions to that. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated. I also may set up a way to donate later on, as this site is ad-free and domains cost money.

What you may see on this blog:

- Lists/rankings/ratings on aviation or retail

-Commentaries on malls/retail

-Commentaries on airports

-Consistent updates

-Timelines on aviation or retail

-Pictures on aviation or retail

Hope you enjoy'