Sunday, March 2, 2008

Livonia Mall; Livonia Michigan

Livonia is a suburb approx. 20 miles to the west of Detroit. While it may be an older detroit suburb, it still thrives which is kind of unique considering the condition of Livonia Mall. Its not really the fault of a struggling city, but more of the density of the surronding area that caused this mall to die. In the 60's and 70's the western detroit suburbs boomed with growth while the retail sector tried to keep up. To meet the demand of the growing area, 3 malls were constructed withing a very short distance of each other. Livonia was the 1st, then Wonderland (also in livonia) and finally Westland Mall (in Westland) in 1965. Livonia mall sits on the corner of 7 Mile rd and Middlebelt rd, Wonderland was on the Plymouth rd and Middlebelt, and Westland Warren Ave and Wayne rd. . I did the math and all of these malls were only an average of 5 miles from each other! Thats a lot of malls in a small area! In 1989 they made things worse by adding Laurel Park Place mall on 6 Mile rd close to I-275. LPP is a very upscale mall and that, combined with several other factors spelled doom from Livonia mall.

Livonia mall opened in 1962 and most of the decor hasn't changed much from then, especially the exterior.

Sometime in the 80's a wing with a Mervyn's was added and some of the decor was updated with the typical pastel colors, recessed lighting, and fake plants of the era. This makes the mall look strange and nothing flows together as it should. The 1960's exterior was nice back then, but today after years of neglect it just looks drab and dingy. Not doing much to upgrade the looks combined with the previously mentioned hurt the mall. When in its prime, the mall had 5 anchors: Kresge, Sears, Crowleys, Children's Palace, and Mervyns. Kresge closed in the late 80's and the space I assume was subdivided into smaller stores to add to the malls mix. I'm not sure when the Children's Palace closed, but it was vacant until the late 90's when a paint ball fortress began leasing the space. Crowley's became a Value City in the late 90's and Mervyns closed all of their Michigan locations in 2006, leaving the mall with 2 out of the 4 anchors currently occupied. The lack of stable anchors and competition from other malls caused the many of the smaller chain tenants to leave the mall and now many storefronts are vacant. Most of the reamaining tenants are mom and pop stores, but there are a few national chains still there. I think footlocker, Waldenbooks, and GNC (the last store a dying mall closes) are still open.
Plans were made in 2006 to tear down the mall and convert it to a strip mall, but Sears (who owns their building) could not agree on anything and such plans have stalled. The mall has changed ownership and management several times in the past few years. No one seems to be willing to deal with it lol.

The Former Children's Palace space; now a paintball fortress:

The Former Mervyns space complete with label scar:

The movie theater marquee:

One of two updated entrances. Too bad they are one the backside of the mall and face away from the main roads:

Two shots from inside taken in 2004. As you can see noone is shopping:


Anonymous said...

Laurel Park is at 6 Mile, not 8 Mile. Otherwise, good read.

phikapbob said...

Eric, good luck with the new blog. I saw you on D-Yes. I'd like to cross-post your piece on Livonia Mall, since I try to write about sprawl and Livonia both on my own blog. I live in the neighborhood to the south of Wonderland.

My "dream" for the Livonia Mall site would be a mixed-use development, with a village-like retail component and upscale townhouses. I'm afraid it's going to end up another Wal-Mart though.

Oh, and a correction - Laurel Park Place is on 6 Mile, not 8 Mile, at 275.

Anonymous said...

Good thing Bob's not in charge, because more multi-family dwellings are the last thing Livonia (or the rest of metro Detroit, for that matter) needs. Remind me again how condo sales are doing?

Another Wal-Mart is unlikely; there's one four miles due south.

The whole Clarenceville region has been fairly ghetto for the last quarter-century, and I can imagine very few things that would help change that. The strip mall on the southwest corner of 7 and Middlebelt is drying up too, a result of Livonia Mall being all but dead. They ought to rip out half of the parking lot and put in green space so that stormwater doesn't all drain into the sewers while they wait for someone to decide what to do to revitalize the place.

Anonymous said...

The Livonia Mall was the mall I practiccally grew up in. I got my first haircut there from Eugene, a barber who is probably dead now. I bought my first leather jacket there when I was in high school, and I spent many an afternoon there hanging with my fellow dorks from C'ville. It's sad to see it fall into such disrepair. I remember the old tall turquois sign, and really miss it. There were other malls with that same type of sign in the metro-Detroit area, but I can't remember which ones they were. Does anyone know if any of those classic signs remain?

Dan (now living in Ann Arbor)

Anonymous said...


Big Daddy also grew up in Livonia about a 8 minute walk from the Mall and spent untold hours there growing up including not a few brazenly SEXUAL experiences during my junior high years at such disparate places as the STAIRCASE at Sears (no one used it because of the elevator/escalator or so we thought. haha!) the Livonia Mall Cinema and even outside in the parking lot. Whoooo!!

I reprised one of those moments about ten years ago with my date outside the Pie Shop that's now there near the cinema.

Great times they were.

But, I have to agree with Robert Plant. The time for Led Zeppelin to Tour Live has come and gone.

And so has the time for...

...The Livonia Mall.

Big Daddy
Ann Arbor MI

Pig said...

It was fun to read about Livonia Mall, thanks. I grew up in Livonia (5 & Farmington) in the 60s and 70s, and spent a lot of time at Livonia Mall. They used to have beautiful Christmas decorations - life-sized figures that moved in different Christmas scenes. Never seen anything like it at a mall, and it really drew people in during the holidays.

One thing: The mall didn't have five anchors. Value City went in where Crowley's was, and Mervyns was added after Value City took over. Originally, there was just Crowley's, Sears and Kresge's. There also used to be a bar inside the mall back in the 60s/early 70s.

Two of my brothers worked at the mall in the late 60s - 1971, one at Sears and one at Crowley's.

I bought my first records at the tiny music shop that used to be right on the corner before you headed back to the cinema.

I just read elsewhere online that the mall has been demolished except for Sears - not sure about Value City - and that another Walmart is going in there. I thought they'd put a Walmart where Wonderland used to be?

Livonia Mall was going downhill by the time I left the area in 1980. Twelve Oaks Mall had just opened in Novi and people headed out there. Very sad. I have great memories of Livonia Mall. Thanks again for the article and photos.

Eric said...

Sorry for the confusion with the anchors...Its hard to keep track with all the name changes and Store comming and going. I suppose the main question is if you consider childrens palace and anchor or not. The bar was the Jonathan B Pub that I mentioned. it was still there (the space where it used to be) up until the mall closed. I saw the label scar and peered inside and thought that a bar in a mall was an interesting idea.

Yeah the mall has been torn down. I don't know what still remains, though. I'll have to go up that way and check it out. The Value City space was surely torn down as well cause all VCDS closed last year.

Putting another Walmart in would be foolish, but it fits the pattern of what walmart likes to do. We will just have to see what happens I guess.

Anyway thanks for commenting and I encourage you to red the rest of my blog. thanks

Anonymous said...

I live in the area, moving south of 7 Mile, east of the mall, in '07. I grew up in Southfield, so I was a regular at Tel-Twelve Mall (anyone been to that one!) and Livonia Mall.

I'm pleased to see that it's been demolished and new tenants are coming in. I'm not happy to hear that Wal-Mart is parking their butts there, but I'll take this something, rather than nothing. Increased tax revenue, employement, etc. I'm really hopeful it regenerates the area, as did the Wonderland Mall location.

I really don't understand two Wal-mart's within four miles of each other, but I'm no business major, either. I'm also surprised they want one there, since Sears is sticking around. You'd think that'd be competition with Wal-Mart, with Wal-Mart edging them out selling cheaper items in an older, middle/lower class area...I dunno. I'm an optimistic individual and hope for the best...

Anonymous said...

I question any article that begins by stating that Livonia is 20 miles outside of Detroit. At their closest point they are roughly only ONE MILE apart!!

Eric said...

Keep in mind that this isn't really an article source, its a personal blog. I realize what you are saying, though. I was speaking of the distance from the Detroit neighborhood that I grew up in(Warrendale). I did't consider where Livonia and Redford meet at Inkster rd. Between that point and Five points rd. then yes, it is only about a mile to the nearest Detroit border.