After many years of financial failure and broken political promises of its demolition, Rolling Acres has finally had its date with the wrecking ball.
As a farewell, here are a few images from just before it closed, all but one taken by Ross Schendel of Labelscar.com, compared to photos I took in similar areas a few years after it was abandoned. His article, which he updated until 2012, offers a more extensive written history of the mall as well as many more of these historic images, which I was surprised and happy to find aligned closely to several of the ones I took during my visit. His website is definitely worth checking out if you are into this kind of thing.
The once-futuristic glass elevator:
(10th Anniversary, Forest City Enterprises, 1985)
Dillard’s and the pink and black storefronts, apparently vacant then, too:
The information desk:
Kaufmann’s and the fountain light fixture:
The central sculpture:
And JC Penney Outlet Store:
At the end, Rolling Acres was further away and less safe than other nearby malls Akron shoppers had to choose from. After months of unpaid bills, First Energy cut the power to what was left of the mall, and the last holdouts, which included a church, a few nonprofits, and a Dollar General, were like nope and packed their bags. The property was purchased by a shell company in 2011, and after a few more years of unpaid taxes, was seized again and cycled back through a foreclosure auction.
The anchor stores were blocked off and rented to a few different companies in recent years, such as a recycling company, which operated long after the rest of the mall had closed. It stored cubed refuse in organized stacks along the lines of the parking lot.
The architecture exhibited subtle postmodern flair. The Black Keys used an exterior shot of one of the entrances for their 2011 single “Gold on the Ceiling.”
Images of the mall’s atrium made the rounds across the internet, filled with winter accumulation like a charming little snowglobe, but Rolling Acres was plagued by crime in its final years. Beyond the usual trespassing and vandalism, “Craigslist Killer” Brogan Rafferty left one of his victims in the woods behind the mall, and a would-be scrapper was electrocuted to death when a copper switchbox he was trying to steal exploded. With so much attention on the blighted property, police presence was increased in 2016 after the mayor of Akron warned people to stay away, as the demolition date loomed ever closer.
Here are a few familiar names from still-active chain retail stores:
Bath and Body Works
And a great deal of dime stores, value boutiques, broken glass, and empty planters:
It’s not clear what happened to the few remaining businesses that had operated within the anchor stores as the rest of the mall decayed between them. Around November 2016, the former retail behemoth was halfway gone. I imagine very little, if any, is left today.
Ross Schendel of labelscar.com