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The Rise and Fall of the 80s Mall

There are certain places that evoke strong feelings of nostalgia. For me (and I'd venture to guess most of us who were raised in the 1980s) it doesn't get any more nostalgic than the mall. Every decent-sized town had one, and growing up in Dallas we had plenty of indoor malls to choose from. My favorite was Collin Creek Mall in Plano, Texas. Opened in 1981, this mall was an urban oasis with a winding "creek" that ran the entire length of the mall itself. The water feature was unique and innovative at the time, bringing the outdoors inside with the addition of trees, waterfalls, and magical little passageways featuring local vendors and national chain stores alike. Some of my personal favorites included Gadzook's clothing store, Wicks 'N Sticks candle shop, and this adorable little Sanrio store where I could purchase (or beg my mom to purchase) Hello Kitty stickers and other tiny treasures. In addition to the typical mall food court fare, we had Tino's Mexican Restaurant where we could have a nice sit-down meal of amazing Tex-Mex and the BEST fresh salsa of any, hands-down. As you can probably tell, I truly miss this place. So what happened to Collin Creek Mall?

Like so many other malls of the 1980s, business started to gradually decline over the years. Having moved out of state two decades ago, I didn't witness this decline in person, but I probably could have predicted it. Collin Creek's story isn't unique, and you could likely tell a similar tale of your own local mall which has either closed or is at-risk of being shut down due to lack of business. First major department stores fold, followed by the chain stores... mall walkers begin to outnumber actual shoppers... soon you see local businesses and pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween taking the place of these national chains. That's never a good sign! It's like the Grim Reaper himself has arrived to deliver the final blow, ringing the death knell of a so-called "Dead Mall."

So a little over three years ago, in the spring of 2019, Collin Creek announced it would soon be closing its doors forever. Although I shouldn't have been surprised by this news, it did hit me particularly hard because, as I mentioned, I didn't personally witness its slow and steady downfall. After the initial shock, I convinced Keith to take me on a quick weekend trip to Dallas (about a 6-hour drive from our home in Kansas) so that I could walk the hallowed halls of Collin Creek once more and bid a sentimental goodbye to this place that was such a nostalgic part of my youth. Here's a video of what we thought would be our final farewell visit:

Now I'm not going to tell you that this story has a happy ending and the mall was saved because sadly that isn't the case; however, let's just say the story has another unexpected twist because a couple of months after we made our Goodbye Collin Creek Mall video, something really cool happened. There was an outpouring of love for Collin Creek from a Facebook group who called themselves "Mall Rats." These were kindred spirits, other 80s kids who grew up hanging out at the mall and, like me, were deeply saddened by its eminent closure. So much so that this Facebook group caught on and grew like wildfire until it had over 7,000 members! This got the attention of the company who had purchased the property for redevelopment, Centurion American, and they decided to act on the reignited enthusiasm for Collin Creek Mall. The developers threw a HUGE Farewell Party for the mall, giving it a proper send-off the night before its demolition was scheduled to begin. The party was free to anyone who wished to come, and it was amazing! There was an 80's theme which included awesome decor and a fabulous live band. So of course, we got in our car and drove back to the Dallas area so we could gather with our friends to say the final final goodbye to our beloved Collin Creek Mall. What a night! Here's a video of the super fun Farewell Party:

Fast forward to today: it has been over three years since the permanent closure of Collin Creek Mall. Centurion American began demolition shortly thereafter, and they appear to be making steady progress toward their end-goal of a mixed-use community space which will include residential, office space, restaurants, parks and walking trails. We're excited to see their plan come to fruition. In the meantime, we've continued to make periodic visits to the former site of Collin Creek Mall and created videos which include demolition updates and drone flyovers to watch their progress. Here are those videos:

October 2019

November 2019

August 2020

August 2021

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