Northland Shopping Center stood at the corner of Lucas Hunt and West Florrissant roads, in the northern inner-ring suburb of Jennings. Planning for the mall dates back to the end of the second World War, though it was not completed till 1955. For many years its flagship store was Famous-Barr department store, housed in the massive brick box that is the centerpiece of the complex.
Outparcels included a 1950s office building, a bowling alley-turned-ballroom at one end of the lower strip, a Family Dollar (perhaps the most glaringly dated of all the buildings), and a former grocery store, seen at the far left. A 1960s movie theater was demolished in 2002.
For several decades, this was a premier shopping destination and an attraction for persons of all walks of life. Famous-Barr gambled on the area's future and was rewarded handsomely, as the suburban area around it developed rapidly.
Yet the Jennings area was in financial decline by the early 1990s; like the city neighborhoods it replaced, it too was being vacated as residents continued to seek land at the fringes of the metropolitan area, further and further from anywhere. Sales at the Northland center dropped. The single-building Famous-Barr store, surrounded by strip retail rather than an enclosed mall, no longer fit the May Company's perferred retail model. Maintenance issues began to pile up as well; Famous-Barr vacated the store in 1994.
The remaining strip stores slowly choked to death in the years afterward, closing one after the next (including the McCrory's location shown here.) An outlot theater on the site was demolished in 2002. Only a handful of stores remained open at my first visit to the complex, in May 2003. Since 2000, plans have called for complete demolition. The mall had only survived this long because the developers - the Sansone Group - had been unable to find a lead tenant for their planned redevelopment. Target later signed on and demolition began in April 2005.