Eastland Mall: The Last “land”

“land” As in directional malls of Columbus, Ohio. More on those later… **Disclaimer** This mall is not to be confused with Columbus’ much newer and incredibly popular indoor/outdoor shopping destination that is Easton Town Center. If you want to learn about Easton you’ve come to the wrong place.

“I am anchor-less, and floating away into the vastness that is the ocean of dead malls.”

Intro:

How’s it going everybody? I know what you’re all thinking. “Where has the Mall Maniac been!? It’s been 11 months since he last wrote, that lazy ass! I wanna learn more about dying retail and other cool abandoned shit!” Well I’m sorry and I know I can’t make up that lost time but I’m back and I’m happy to be back! Let’s say we get on with this blog!

Now that I got your attention about Eastland AND got you wondering about the other “land” malls of Columbus, Ohio, I’ll answer your questions.

If you’re a frequent visitor of the Dad Blog then you’ve probably seen my article Westland Mall: Abandoned Wasteland, if you haven’t then take a look at it. https://dadbodcollective.com/2020/02/27/westland-mall-abandoned-wasteland/ That read has everything you need to know about Westland. What about the other two you may ask? Northland Mall was the very first of the four directional malls in Columbus, it opened in 1964 (enclosed in ’75) and was very popular for a long time. In fact all directional malls were popular until Columbus constructed new malls in the late 1990’s. These new malls I’m speaking of include The Mall at Tuttle Crossing (’97), Easton Town Center (’99), and Polaris Fashion Place (’01), all of which were built within 4 years of each other in corresponding locations to the directional malls. Tuttle in west Columbus, Polaris in the north, and Easton quite obviously in the east. These big bad ’90s malls stole their business and forced Northland to close in 2002, eventually being demolished just two years later in 2004. (sad face emoji) as for Southland, there were originally plans to build an enclosed shopping mall but it never came to fruition. I see a lot of contradicting points on other blogs and vlogs so I don’t feel confident in telling you history about Southland. from what it seems is that there is or was an open air plaza, never an enclosed mall. I have never been to its location nor did I grow up in Columbus in the 20th century so if somebody who does have knowledge on that wants to comment after reading I’d appreciate it.

Enough about the other “lands” though, you came here to learn about the east one, so let’s talk about it.

Mall Information:

Opened in 1968, Eastland Mall was built by the Richard E. Jacobs Group (the same people who developed the aforementioned Northland and Westland malls.) Eastland despite opening 4 years after Northland was actually the first enclosed shopping mall in Columbus which makes it historic, in fact it is the oldest operating mall in central Ohio. Let’s talk size, the mall clocks in at just under 1 million square feet of retail space, and one of the most interesting things about it is that the anchors are two stories and the mall is only one. The original three anchors were JCPenney, Sears, and Lazarus. In 2003, the mall switched ownership for the first time and was bought by Glimcher Realty Trust, the Owners of Polaris Fashion Place. The new owners added a fourth department store (Kaufmann’s), and it was around that same time Lazarus became Lazarus-Macys. In 2006, Kaufmann’s was bought by Macy’s and Lazarus-Macy’s became just Macy’s and moved into the Kaufmann’s space leaving the old Lazarus building behind. Since 2006, the old Lazarus building has been abandoned. I know that sounds confusing but if you read it twice there’s not really a better way to explain it. In 2015 Glimcher avoided foreclosure and sold the mall to an “overseas buyer.” That same year JCPenney closed their doors, and in 2017 Sears and Macy’s closed down leaving the mall anchor-less for the past five years. Despite Eastland’s lack of anchors it is staying somewhat full on the inside at around 40% occupancy with mostly discount clothing and non fashion related stores.

Tour:

We will be starting with the exterior.

Every single sign in the parking lot had missing letters.

AA? American Airlines? Alcoholics Anonymous? Ohhhh I see now, gotta read between the lines, no wait the letters.

I don’t think I have ever seen an operational mall that looks as abandoned as Eastland. I’m talking first impressions of earth. My bad, that’s The Strokes 3rd album. I mean first impressions of the exterior. Just from the image above you know that nothing here is cared for, the weeds are overgrown, and the lot is riddled with massive potholes and the litter from individuals who have crossed its path. I have a LOT to show you.

After all the dead malls I’ve been to I’ve seen some terrible parking lots but never one with as much garbage in it as this one. The lack of maintenance going on outside of this place makes it incredibly uninviting and I feel bad for the small businesses inside trying to get customers. Below is mall managements solution for the problem.

Yep, those are trash cans randomly placed in the middle of the parking lot. 3 of them.

Just take a look at how the curbs have fallen apart. Below you can see that more people use the lot for doing donuts than they do to park for the mall.

Let’s move onto the structure itself.

The main entrance leaves a lot to be desired. First of all I couldn’t find any information on when the exterior was renovated but it is god awful, incredibly generic, and again very uninviting. I found it personally confusing and a little sketchy walking into this place because as you can see the actual entrance is far behind the “Food Court” gateway, and it’s very dark. Right next to the main entrance is a vacant exterior store that was clearly added with the most recent renovation.

Here you can see the sign scar up top, broken glass below, and on the right a paint job that was never finished. On the other side of the building there are stores just like this in even worse shape.

More of the same here. I really hate the look of these town center looking stores.

This mall was honestly the first mall that I ever felt nervous going into, I mean this place is still open and it is just being absolutely abused.

Unlike the last pic, whoever knocked out this window got through both panes, this is just a wide open hole. Zooming out we have a view of those exterior store-fronts next to the former Sears.

On the left you can see a Columbus cop in the lot which for once made me more comfortable. Considering my strange-looking activity of driving around the lot stopping and going to take pictures I figured I’d go over to the officer and tell him what exactly it is that I’m doing and he was very nice and said “cool go right ahead, thanks for letting me know.” If he was a mall cop this would have been a different story. Check out my blog on Towne Mall in Middletown, OH if you wanna hear a story about me owning an annoying mall cop. https://dadbodcollective.com/2020/11/01/towne-mall-galleria-frozen-in-time/ Let’s take a look at that Sears why don’t we

Really love the midcentury detail on the brickwork here.

Don’t be a square, admit it’s cool. I really love the golden hour glow I got on this next photo.

Let’s take a look at that always included Auto Center while we’re at it.

Just beautiful. Don’t be confused at the fact that there are cars still at this Sears auto center, it is definitely closed. I believe some nearby business uses this now for their employees cars. Overall, I really like the architecture of this Sears but it falls short to the design at Salem Mall. https://dadbodcollective.com/2021/02/20/the-trot-to-trotwood-sears-at-salem-mall-still-stands/ Before we check out the other department stores let’s take a look at this odd little stand in the parking lot. If anyone knows what this was used for let me know in the comments. I feel like it had to be Sears related.

Should we check out JC now? Yes we should.

It’s very clear in this pic how the anchor’s are 2 floors and the mall is only 1. When it comes to design the building is okay, it’s in really good shape but it’s just not as cool looking as the Sears or Lazarus at Eastland. Many other JCPenneys I’ve been to have a little more character to them. Let’s move on to the actual ugliest anchor building and the only one that is still being used, the former Kaufmann’s/Macy’s.

Built in ’03 this building with the least interesting architecture of the day is now being utilized by the Eastland Preparatory Academy, and some reason they don’t use the main entrance.

Join today! On to the best looking structure at this mismatched mall, the former Lazarus

Yup, that’s it in the distance. A blue tiled behemoth.

Everything about this building is great, from the light blue tile to the beautiful archways. It’s so cool to see how it is now but at the same time it’s a shame.

I love love love those globes.

And that brickwork. Hell they even got a payphone!

Wish it was still working. I’m just gonna drop some photos now so you can see what 15 years of abandonment does to a structure.

Whoever broke the globes deserves a felony.

Look at all that lead paint falling!

I don’t know about you, but this was by far the worst exterior I have ever seen from a mall that is still open. If you’ve got any others in mind you can comment after the read, I would love to hear!

Without further ado…

Interior time.

These doors were just stuck wide open. Oh and take a look at this below.

That ought to make you feel comfortable when you have all of your belongings in your car like I did. As you pass through the front door you’re met with a meth head on your right, old Kaufmann’s ahead on your left, and the late ’80s/early ’90s food court in front of you.

Here you can see old Kaufmann’s now the Eastland Preparatory Academy right behind this surprisingly real plant that is basting in one of the many skylights this mall has to offer. Peep the chairs.

Very spiderweb looking. “Where’s Peter Parker!? I want pictures of Spider-Man!” So since you can already see those Tri-County Mall-esque lookin’ chairs like the one’s in this link here https://dadbodcollective.com/2020/01/21/tri-county-mall-whats-left/ let’s check out that ’80s/’90s food court I’ve been waiting to talk about.

It really is very reminiscent of Tri-County with its pink marble and those chairs. I don’t believe that there were any restaurants still operating out of here but I was craving the smell of cheap pizza and asian food.

The kid rides were operational and playing their creepy music.

The food court may have been my favorite part. From the floor to the window, to the wall. Damn it that’s Lil Jon, I don’t know why I keep doing this. Seriously Eastland,

for letting me visit. Below we are looking back at old Kaufmann’s and the food court on your right.

I really love the floor in here, it gives me Midway/Beechmont Mall vibes. Turning around, the corridor is actually quite short and has a few operational businesses with customers.

Seems a little too up to date for this mall. Essential oils are so 2020s.

Made it to the middle which feels like should be an area with chairs for people to congregate and relax, but there isn’t anything of the sort. On my right is the info/security desk with an excellent gold mirror job underneath. I tried to take a picture of the inside of old JCPenney (seen in the background) but was called out by security. To our left and to our right is now just one very long corridor. Before we move through the corridors, let’s take a look at another impressive skylight. This one is the biggest of them all.

Gorgeous. Here’s some pictures looking both ways, first is to the left towards old Sears.

Next one is to the right towards old Lazarus.

You can see how dark it is beyond a few of those businesses that are still open, this area was poorly lit, and very cold. Most of the mall felt like it was around 60 degrees but down that way felt especially cold. Let’s head down there!

There’s a few clothing stores and a couple places to sit but really not many for a mall this size.

That’s a big name place for a mall this dead. In fact Finish Line, Claire’s, and Champ’s were the only chains that I recall.

Gotta love those. I remember using one just like it at Eastgate when I was a kid. Wow there’s been a lot of talk about “East” and “Land” malls in this blog.

Pretty sure when you google vending machine, this comes up.

Classic, iconic, and not working. Anyway, let’s peek behind this thing and check out the old Lazarus.

I love that the same blue design from the outside is brought into the interior. I also love how there’s just random dead potted plants sat in a very asymmetrical manner in front of the doors. To your left and right there are exits which are both closed.

There is only two ways in and out of this mall currently, the local fire department must love that. Turning around we’re looking down this entire long hallway which is very intimidating when empty.

The picture doesn’t do justice to how long this looks and felt in person. You can also see how dark it really is at this end of the mall, very spooky and I’m glad I stopped by here before the sun went down. If you look closely on the right you will notice a directory. Let’s take a look at that before we head back.

Yup, no anchors check. Seems up to date to me. Surprising for a place like this.

To finish off the interior let’s take a look down the Sears corridor from the middle of the mall.

Nothing new, same old discount stores, but this time there’s also a massage parlor ;). There is also a mini corridor to our right that leads to the only other exit that isn’t the food court.

I appreciate the thank you sign there as well, I wish I would have stolen it. Couldn’t have been too hard.

Above you is another odd thing I noticed about this place. There’s extension cords running across the floors in multiple areas to power up the kiosks in the middle. I don’t know if there just aren’t any sockets in the middle or what? I’d find that hard to believe so my guess is that there’s just an electrical problem here.

Here we have a construction work light cord stretched across the corridor giving me signs that the old ceiling can lights do not work.

Finally, we have made it to Sears which is our last stop inside the mall.

The subtle curve to the entrance with the lights shining down looks very grand, I feel like I can imagine those big bright blue letters shining up there right now. And for the first time I got a picture of a family enjoying the mall.

Conclusion:

Eastland Mall is not forgettable. From the giant skylights, to the gorgeous Lazarus, and even the terribly littered parking lot, this mall left its mark on my mind. I know that soon this place will not exist so I urge its frequenters and old visitors to remember it all, but if they can’t then that’s what I’m here for.

I really love going to dead malls and I like it even more when it’s winter-time, I think it’s because the dead life inside reflects the dead life outside which just makes the experience extra cool. This blog was long, I know, but it’s been so long since I’ve done one of these so I figured you people deserve my best. This is how they’re going to be from here on out, thorough top-notch quality with the same tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in from time to time. Know that the Mall Maniac is back.

Final thoughts,

Eastland has a rich history from being the first enclosed mall, the oldest mall, and being the last of the directional “land” malls in Columbus, Ohio. It’s gonna go, we don’t know when yet, but it’s the last “land” on its last stand.

Mall Maniac Rating:

Shopping: 2/10 Not good

Food: 0/10 There just wasn’t any

Architecture: 6.5/10 Some nice looking shit, also some ugly looking shit

Overall: 7/10

Bye bye Eastland… Thanks for reading along everybody, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Where’s the Mall Maniac going to next? Drop suggestions in the comments.

One thought on “Eastland Mall: The Last “land”

  1. Hello! Ran across your blog as I was going down a rabbit hole of trying to find the name of the restaurant that used to be on the second floor of Lazarus. The little stand/building outside Sears used to be the The Key Shop aka Sears Key Shop. Shame you couldn’t have seen the mall when it was a bustling shopping destination. It really was a wonderful mall.

    Liked by 1 person

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