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Author Topic: Forest Fair Mall / Cincinnati Mills / Cincinnati Mall / Forest Fair Village  (Read 2822 times)
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Ameskid
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« on: August 14, 2015, 08:03:29 PM »

It seems that this mall has always had trouble sticking with a name, just as it has been unable to attract stores for long periods of time.  Originally built in 1989 as a lavish (and HUGE) upscale mall, that idea proved itself a failure by the early '90s - in only two years, the mall was at 50% vacancy at points - and the format was changed to the standard discount mall format by the mid-90s. Things seemed to be stabilized for the time being; although none of the three upscale anchors (Sakowitz, Bonwit Teller, and B. Altman) survived longer than a year or so, occupancy was growing by a few years later and chains like Bass Pro Shops, Burlington Coat Factory, Media Play, and Guitar Center found niches in the mall.

...Then, in 2002, the Mills Corporation got their hands on it.

Booting the remaining small-time tenants out of the mall was the first item on the itinerary for Mills.  Next up was the typical "garification" of any Mills mall, which meant copious amounts of decoration, Dr. Seuss-like colors, and theming to the entire mall interior and exterior. Forest Fair Mall was to become Cincinnati Mills, and judging by the amount of radio commercials I heard for the new mall, it was supposed to be a big deal.  The brand-spanking-new Cincinnati Mills opened in the fall of 2004 with vacancy rates the lowest since the grand opening in 1989.

Just three years after the big renovation, things were sliding downhill fast again as Simon acquired the property. Media Play went down with the rest of the chain in 2005, and has remained vacant ever since. The mall's resident game center, Namco Wonderpark, closed in 2008 after a sex tape scandal. Bigg's, the only original anchor left at that point, closed in 2009 and remains vacant to this day. Steve & Barry's, which occupied part of a space once held by Parisian, went under as well.  Once again, Forest Mills Fair Mall Center Square changed hands, this time to North Star Port Authority. At 40% vacancy, lots of work needed to be done.

That work was never done, and the mall died even more in the coming years. It changed names in 2009, from Cincinnati Mills to Cincinnati Mall - and again in 2013, to Forest Fair Village. (No actual evidence of the latest name change has turned up on the property, however.)  Right now, it is at about 95% vacancy.  After being renovated so recently, it is a very creepy experience to walk through the corridors.  Forest Mills Village Fair Centre Mall Towne Place will, incredibly, decline even more after the Bass Pro Shops store moves out later this year.

As the drywall slowly gains more holes, and the tacky rainbow colored paint begins to peel, Cincinnati Mall stands as a gargantuan reminder that not every mall can be revitalized.

Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Former Elder-Beerman/Johnny's Toys/Steve & Barry's, Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Center Court, Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Center Court, Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Former Bigg's, Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Surprise! Nothing by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
Cincinnati Mall by Harvestman Man, on Flickr
The River Has Dried Up by Harvestman Man, on Flickr

(All photos were taken by me last Sunday afternoon. I saw maybe twenty people total in two hours there.)
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Hudsons81
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 06:24:54 AM »

That is so crazy, it almost reminds me of Dixie Square Mall.
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 12:11:52 PM »

I had a lunch break with a desire to go somewhere, but didn't have an idea where.  Nonetheless, I headed to the car and figured I'd decide as soon as I got in.  I ended up going here and from the moment I walked in the door I was glad I came.  It was deathly quiet except for something rattling around somewhere.  There were maybe 10 people there walking.  I saw one place open in the food court and other than the anchor tenants that are left (Kohls, Babies, R Us, Bass Pro, and a gym), there were maybe three stores that actually operate, though it seems they have weird hours.  Oh, and some kiddie playland in an old storefront.  I took a bunch of photos (some didn't turn out) and will definitely stop by again.  Thankfully I saw no mall nazis running around, as I've read stories about other people being escorted out by rent-a-cops on their Segways.  This will be the highlight of my month!  I will let you all know when I decide to post my photos
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Ameskid
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2016, 11:07:19 PM »

I had a lunch break with a desire to go somewhere, but didn't have an idea where.  Nonetheless, I headed to the car and figured I'd decide as soon as I got in.  I ended up going here and from the moment I walked in the door I was glad I came.  It was deathly quiet except for something rattling around somewhere.  There were maybe 10 people there walking.  I saw one place open in the food court and other than the anchor tenants that are left (Kohls, Babies, R Us, Bass Pro, and a gym), there were maybe three stores that actually operate, though it seems they have weird hours.  Oh, and some kiddie playland in an old storefront.  I took a bunch of photos (some didn't turn out) and will definitely stop by again.  Thankfully I saw no mall nazis running around, as I've read stories about other people being escorted out by rent-a-cops on their Segways.  This will be the highlight of my month!  I will let you all know when I decide to post my photos

Glad you decided to make a trip! It's quite a unique experience.
Now just imagine: the mall will be even more dead when Bass Pro Shops leaves in the near future.  Arcade Legacy is only staying for the cheap rent, I suppose.  And that Chinese place in the food court - no idea how it is staying open, maybe foot traffic from the gamer crowd.

It's a gigantic pathetic eyesore, and no one - property owners included - seems to like it very much.
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2016, 12:22:58 PM »

Third time's the charm...or in my case, NOT the charm...

I was taking some photos today and kinda let my guard down.  I was on the lower level taking a photo of the center court when I heard, "Excuse me sir."  I looked up at the upper level and saw a mall security guard standing at the railing.  He said, "Picture taking is NOT allowed"

So I put the camera away and said I'm sorry.  After a couple of seconds of waiting for him to tell me to get lost, nothing else was said.  At least I was able to resume my walk (figured I might as well get exercise in while I'm there) and I didn't get completely thrown out.
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Ameskid
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2016, 07:11:08 PM »

That's just the residual bad luck from Friday the 13th.  :P
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 01:15:47 PM »

The mall is for sale.  Asking price? $55 million.

Unfortunately, I don't have a Business Journal account, nor do I have the $101 to get one, but here's the article in all of its paywalled glory:
http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2017/02/07/exclusive-former-forest-fair-mall-for-sale.html
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Ameskid
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 06:49:44 PM »

$55,000,000 worth of leaky drywall and broken dreams. No thanks.
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