Clark County to ‘explore other opportunities’ after Upper Valley Mall closure

The Upper Valley Mall in Springfield will close to the public on June 16, according to Clark County officials.

The Board of Clark County Commissioners and the Clark County Land Reutilization Corporation, otherwise known as the Land Bank, made the decision to explore other opportunities for the property due to the loss of anchor tenants over the last decade.

Commission President Melanie Flax Wilt said the mall has cost the county roughly $3.5 million since 2018.

“At that time we thought we had a buyer and it fell through and here we are three years later,” Flax Wilt said. “Our hope is that as we close it, we won’t bleed any additional losses.”

While the mall will be closed to the public, the Land Bank will continue to market the facility to developers for future use, Land Bank Executive Director Ethan Harris said.

“This area remains viable as an economic driver for the community and could be repurposed in any number of ways from light industrial to mixed-use development,” Harris said. “The property has great access and carrying capacities and I’m confident we will quickly find a new use for the property.”

Flax Wilt said the county has had potential buyers express interest in the property.

“It could be like a mixed-used building, like industrial, potentially a buyer could want to do something completely different. But we want to leave that up to them,” Flax Wilt said. “Our analysis tells us now that (the mall) would be a lot better contributor to the economy and provide a lot more jobs for people in our community in a different use.”

ExploreFROM THE ARCHIVES: Upper Valley Mall photos through the years

The mall, opened in 1971, was a hub of retail in Clark County for decades but has watched as longtime anchors like JCPenney, Sears, Macy’s, along with numerous smaller chains, have closed.

“At one point, the Upper Valley Mall was like many malls across the United States, very vibrant. It was a place where people came together to go to the movies to hang out with friends,” Flax Wilt said. “It hasn’t been that in probably two decades and over the last decade more and more stores have left or relocated in our community.”

Victoria’s Secret was the most recent big-name retailer to leave, announcing in early January 2020 that the store would close before the month’s end.

Tonya Walters, who was shopping at the mall on Thursday with her children, said it has been “crazy” to watch the mall decline in recent years.

ExplorePHOTOS: The early years of the Upper Valley Mall

“I think it’s sad. This seems to be the place we used to go to when we were younger. It was always happening. Always gave us something to do. It was always fun,” Walters said.

All of the mall’s current 13 tenants, which include storefronts like Bath & Body Works, Spencer’s Gifts, GNC and Emporium, were notified earlier this week that they will need to be out of the building by June, Flax Wilt said.

The Land Bank purchased 40 acres of property at the Upper Valley Mall for about $3 million in 2018, with plans to spark development on the German Twp. site. But since then, not much work has gone on at the site.

Talks of a sports complex coming to the mall took over social media about two years ago after Home Plate Sports Academy published a now-viral Facebook post in February 2019 stating they had spoken with “new owners” of the mall and a sports complex was coming to the shopping center.

Clark County officials never commented on the sports complex, only telling the Springfield News-Sun they are “always engaged in negotiations.”

The mall’s closure will not affect the Clark County Combined Health District’s vaccination clinic at the former JCPenney building, the county said.

ExploreShare your Upper Valley Mall memories with us

Facts & Figures:

1971: Year the Upper Valley Mall opened

13: Storefronts currently operating at the Upper Valley Mall

$3.5M: Amount of money Clark County has spent on the mall since purchasing the property in 2018