What went wrong?

According to the Web site Deadmalls.com, a number of stores relocated or shut down in recent years.

Gone from the mall are a Gateway computer store, Carlson Cards, McDonald and Klein's All Sports stores are among some of the former stores there. Woolworths and Stein Mart left in the late 90s. The mall also once had a Caldor, CVS, location for Mildred Elley College and Malt River Brewing Company.

Peter Blackbird and Brian Florence, who call themselves retail historians, started the Deadmalls.com Web site in 2000. In the comments about the Latham Circle Mall, people have speculated on why stores began leaving.

In past interviews, former owner Eugene Weiss attributed the decline to the red tape surrounding the approval of the Lowe's home improvement store that has been at the mall since 2004, driving away tentative tenants.

A 2005 comment left on Deadmalls.com criticized management for letting the mall fall into disrepair.

"Management of the mall obviously has no desire to resurrect this mall for it spends no effort or money in maintaining, beautifying or expanding the mall," wrote Derek Ewing. "The driveways, parking lots and structure of the mall are in such disrepair you'd think the mall had shut down years ago. One can only hope a new owner buys the property some day and revives this once prosperous mall that has been virtually ignored by its owners and allowed to die a slow, agonizing death."

Jack Thomas, who posted on the Web site in June 2009, said people had high expectations for Lowe's, but those ultimately did not pan out.

"Lowe's was looked forward to, as many thought the mall would rebound. However, Lowe's never built an internal entrance to the mall, basically sealing it off," he wrote. "Ever since, the mall has slowly sank to the bottom, losing more and more stores each year."

Check back for the Wednesday, Feb. 17, edition of The Spotlight Newspaper for an on-site look at the mall, its tenants and its shoppers.


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