Today marks the official close of the Biltmore Square Mall. Although this mall always seemed out of place in Asheville, it was a beautiful structure that many are sad to see go, despite the fact that the mall has been dead for quite some time. The mall, originally built in 1989 has floundered since its conception due to a number of reasons including poor planning, infrastructure, high prices, and the direct competition of The Asheville Mall only a few exits away.
When the Biltmore Square Mall first opened its doors it was anchored by 4 stores – a Proffitts, Belk, Hess, and Goody’s. In it’s 25 years of service the mall saw several stores come and go, including names such as FYE, Radio Shack, Steve & Barry’s, Dillards, Belk, Waldenbooks, Garfields, and more. As of now, the only stores that have remained through the years are Belk – which Proffitts merged into, and Dillards, which is now a clearance center. The older the mall got the more it struggled to keep stores in play, so as larger box stores moved out, smaller independent retailers moved in. A year before closing you could find local shops renting storefronts, including Ashevillian favorites such as Friends & Fiberworks, The Corn Husk Shoppe, and Kirk’s Collectibles.
If you are like me you have probably wandered Biltmore Mall a few times, if not more. It is the home of the popular Cinebarre movie theater (who we are thrilled to announce are there to stay through the mall construction), and a few major town events have taken place there – everything from a fiber retreat to the Asheville Zombie Walk. Perhaps in your journey through the mall you’ve seen one of the brightly decorated box walls – a bold box of color on a single wall accented with polka dots. Behind each of those walls is a storefront that was never finished because funding ran low, or retailers simply wouldn’t move in. Prior to the mall closing you could still sometimes gain permission to examine one of the stores – none of which had heating, cooling, windows, or even a floor.
Speaking of wall decorations – one thing I am very sad about is seeing the mall architecture go. Yes, the style of the mall was always extremely out of place – palm trees in the mountains, pink and teal coloration, fountains and ironwork – but regardless, it had a lot of potential. Every time you walked down an empty corridor you could almost sense the hopes and dreams The Biltmore Square Mall once held. I am hoping that the fixtures from the mall were kept or sold so that someone else can enjoy them in a different lifetime.
So long, Biltmore Square Mall. We salute your attempts throughout your 25 year run of serving the Asheville Area. In 2015 the mall will return under the name Asheville Outlets, an open air outlet shopping center. Belk, Dillards, Cinebarre and Dollar Tree will all remain open during construction , as was mentioned in a previous article. Watch this space for more information and updates.
Do you have memories of the Biltmore Square Mall? Share them with us in the comments.