On 25th Anniversary, Owings Mills Mall Faces Wall Of Questions
A recap of the mall's past, present and future on the day of its 25th anniversary.
On July 30, 1986, the Owings Mills "Fashion Mall" celebrated opening its doors for the first time with a fashion show and shower of pink feathers and gold dust.
The parking lot was packed, the halls were filled and Columbia-based developer The Rouse Co. was quite pleased with itself, television news reports showed. The mall was the place to be, some said.
But things have changed, and drastically.
For starters, it's known as Owings Mills Mall or Owings Mills Town Center -- depending on which road sign or website you read -- but it wouldn't qualify as a "fashion" mall, with high-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue long gone.
Many other stores are gone, too. One commenter on Owings Mills Patch's Facebook page suggests a game in which shoppers walk around the mall and try to remember what was once in each vacant space in the now-quiet and often barren hallways.
Others on Facebook and Twitter just bemoan the mall's slow decline in its quarter-century of existence.
What is clear is that people in the area have an interest in the mall. Two Owings Mills Mall-themed Facebook groups exist, including "Owings Mills Mall is DEAD," which has more than 8,600 fans.
The newer "Save Owings Mills Mall" page, started by a community resident after Patch's series on the mall's history and decline, has 20 fans so far.
The mall's future has been in doubt for some time, but Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony at Owings Mills Metro Centre, which officials hope will become a thriving town center with retail, housing and a hotel, cast further doubt on the once-lauded mall's future.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he has reached out to the mall's owners at General Growth Properties, Inc., and wants Metro Centre to complement, not replace, the mall.
But the mall's general manager Clinton Cole, who told Patch in April rumors the mall would be torn down were false, has declined to talk more about the mall's future, except through a written statement in which Cole said he was looking for ways to improve the mall for customers.
One thing is likely certain: It's not a joyous 25th birthday today for the one-time shopping destination in northwest Baltimore County.