Rolling Acres Mall was a retail mall located in the Rolling Acres area of Akron, Ohio. Built in 1975 and expanded several times in its history, it once comprised more than 140 stores, including five anchor stores, a movie theater and a food court. The mall closed on 31 October 2008, leaving only two of its anchor stores in operation, Sears and JCPenney.
In January 2011, Sears announced they would close their store, and did so April 2011, while JCPenney converted its remaining outlets to “JC’s 5 Star Outlet” stores. In 2013, JCPenney announced it, too, would close all remaining “JC’s Five Star Outlet” stores, including the store at Rolling Acres. On 31 December 2013, it was shut down, leaving the mall vacant of all retail stores. The mall currently houses Pinnacle Recycling.
Rolling Acres Mall was developed by Forest City Enterprises. It opened in Akron, Ohio with Sears and 21 stores on 6 August 1975, and had more than 50 stores by year’s end.
JCPenney opened a year later as a second anchor. A new wing, called the Court of Aquarius, was added in 1977, including a large aquarium (which was later removed) and a third anchor store, Montgomery Ward. Further expansion in 1978 comprised a new, two-story wing called the Promenade, comprising a food court called “Prom-N-Eat” (later renamed “Picnic Place”) and local chain O’Neil’s as a fourth anchor.
A mall-wide renovation was begun in 1986, replacing its original earth tones with pastel colors. Two of the anchors would change in the 1980’s as well: Montgomery Ward closed in 1986 and was replaced with Higbee’s (another local chain), and O’Neil’s was merged to May Company Ohio in 1989.
In a cost-cutting measure, Rolling Acres Mall stopped using off-duty police officers and instead relied on cheaper security guards, starting in 1991. During a showing of the film New Jack City, two movie patrons got into a fight outside of the cinema. People in the area believed they heard a gunshot, but it was a metal sign that got knocked down. A panicked crowd ran through the mall.
Two more anchors changed in the 1990s, both affecting the same two buildings (Higbee’s and May Company Ohio) that had previously been converted in the 1980s. Higbee’s was acquired and renamed by Dillard’s in 1992, and May Company Ohio became Kaufmann’s a year later. Also in 1993, the General Cinema was closed.
In 1994, Forest City Enterprises refinanced the mall, putting the money towards the development of several new restaurants inside the mall’s food court, which by then was known as “Picnic Place.”
Rolling Acres Cinema building as it appeared in January 2014
A fifth anchor, Target, was the final addition to the mall, opening in 1995. Shortly afterward, however, the mall began losing stores. Dillard’s was downgraded to a clearance center in 1997. In that same year, the nearby Summit Mall went through a multimillion-dollar renovation, which increased its patronage in the local area. The JCPenney was shrunk down to a catalog outlet in 1999.
The mall was sold to Banker Trust of New York in 2000 for $33.5 million, who gave the mall a new logo as well as a website. Also, the cinema reopened under an independent group calling itself “Blind Squirrel Cinema”.
By November 2001, a buyer was sought by Bankers Trust. In September 2002, the Whichard family of North Carolina purchased Rolling Acres for $2.75 million. The Whichard family are known for buying malls and then flipping them for a profit. However, the family had problems attracting major players. In the same year “Blind Squirrel Cinema” closed.
In 2003, the cinema reopened again, this time as a discount theatre.
Former JCPenney Outlet building, January 2014
The first anchor to leave the mall was Target, which relocated to nearby Wadsworth in February 2006. Dillard’s closed in August 2006, one month before Kaufmann’s was re-branded as Macy’s as the parent company of Kaufmann’s was acquired. This Macy’s, however, closed in March 2008 due to poor sales.
Michael Mirharooni’s Invest Commercial LLC, a real estate developer from California, bought the facility in July 2006 for $1.6 million. Invest Commercial bought the mall using a loan from Ezri Namvar’s fraudulent Namco Capital Group. Although Invest Commercial owned the enclosed mall, concourses, and the Dillards facility, they didn’t own the other four anchors’ buildings.
In April 2008, mall fixtures were auctioned off, and in August of the same year, the theater closed for the third and final time. The eight remaining tenants at the mall were notified in October that the mall could no longer afford its electricity bill, and it would be closing as soon as possible. On 31 October 2008, the mall’s power was finally disconnected, not affecting Sears or the JCPenney outlet.
On 23 April 2009, it was announced that the mall had been placed on the internet auction block and that several people showed interest in buying it for various purposes. The mall was set to be auctioned off on 1 May 2009. No bids were placed for the mall.
The building was sold to Premier Ventures LLC of California in November 2010. The company announced plans to use the existing structure. The company did not pay taxes on the property, including the back taxes owed to 2006, and as a result the city of Akron began foreclosure proceedings in September 2013.
Shortly after the 2010 sale, Sears announced it would be closing its location at the mall. It closed on 3 April 2011. Pinnacle Recycling purchased the Sears building in June 2012.
On 25 January 2011, the JCPenney ‘Outlet’ store announced it would be closing due to the chain’s nationwide pullout of the outlet store concept. The store closed in 2011. On October 19, 2011 SB Capital Group purchased all JCPenney Outlet Stores with plans to rename them and continue to operate them, including the Rolling Acres store, which was renamed JC’s 5 Star Outlet.
In October 2013, JCPenney announced that it would be closing all ‘Outlet’ stores, including the Rolling Acres Mall location. On 31 December 2013, the store was closed, which left the entire mall vacant.
A sheriff’s sale was set to be held in October 2014, but was called off because of a filed bankruptcy on the part of Premier. The city attempted another sheriff’s sale in March 2015 but it was again delayed to June 16, 2015 by an incorrect dismissal of the previous bankruptcy case. On June 16, the mall was once again pulled from sheriff’s sale at the last second by a second bankruptcy filing by the owner. Subsequent sheriff’s sales on August 6 and October 6 also failed at the last minute by bankruptcy filings. An agreement was reached in November 2015 to force the sale of the mall while legally barring Premier from filing for bankruptcy until two months after sales proceedings ended.
After subsequent sheriff’s sales failed in summer of 2016, the mall was foreclosed by Summit County Ohio on 26 June 2016. This transferred ownership to City of Akron who, the council said they would seek to work with a developer and that the buildings would be demolished. Four former department store buildings are still owned by other companies. In September 2016, JCPenney gave its building to the city of Akron. The JCPenney demolition happened after the mall area was completely demolished.
Later in 2017, demolition of the mall had finished. The former JCPenney building demolition began in August 2017, with full demolition on the property completed in October.
The former Target is in use as a Storage of America facility. The former Sears hosts the Pinnacle Paper Recycling Company, and the former Dillard’s hosts Old Main Storage, a private storage company.