Amazon is reportedly taking over the site of a once-thriving mall in Akron, Ohio, that was abandoned after falling victim to the retail apocalypse.
Amazon is planning to build a 695,383-square-foot fulfillment center at the site of the former Rolling Acres Mall, according to blueprints of the project obtained by the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com.
The redevelopment plans are titled "Project Carney," in an apparent nod to Jay Carney, the company's senior vice president of global corporate affairs. Construction on the warehouse is scheduled to begin in September, according to the Beacon Journal.
The e-commerce giant's reported plans to take over the abandoned site of the Rolling Acres Mall is symbolic of a new era in retail.
Poignant images of the mall's decline over the years have come to symbolize the era of retail disruption known as the retail apocalypse.
RELATED: Check out the retailers that closed the most stores in 2018:
Retailers that have closed the most stores in 2018
Retailers that have closed the most stores in 2018
Perfumania: 97 Stores
The fragrance retailer store announced its plans to shutter a quarter of its stores in August last year as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It even made The Motley Fool’s 2018 Death Watch List. However, Perfumania might be one of the many brands trying to reinvent itself as it opened a prototype store at Denver Premium Outlets in Colorado that aims to help customers find their “personal scent,” according to Chain Store Age.
Orchard Supply: 99 stores
Lowe’s announced its plans to shutter all of its Orchard Supply stores earlier in August 2018. Lowe’s bought Orchard Supply Hardware for $205 million just five years ago, but the closure of the franchise is meant to focus on Lowe’s home improvement business in order to compete with Home Depot. This is part of CEO Marvin Ellison’s strategy to “aggressively rationalize store inventory,” reported CNN.
The Children's Place: 100 Stores
Children’s clothing store The Children’s Place closed more than 170 stores in 2017, and the trend continued in 2018 with an additional 100 stores. Company CEO Jane Elfers has stated that the brick-and-mortar downsizing is part of a broader strategy for the company to move from a mall-based presence to an online marketplace, based on ever-growing consumer demand for digital options and the company’s partnership with Amazon.
Payless Shoesource: 100 Stores
Payless ShoeSource filed for bankruptcy in April 2017 and subsequently closed about 900 of its stores. The move is part of Payless’ “Restructure and Reorganization” strategy. Part of the closures was the result of sputtering mall traffic and competitor strength, but also because the chain was deep in debt. Although closing stores alleviated Payless’ debt obligation, it remains to be seen if the franchise will survive.
Children’s apparel chain Gymboree has closed 102 stores so far in 2018 in an effort to restructure its business and leave Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and it seems to have achieved just that. The retailer launched its reboot on Amazon Prime Day in July 2018, reported CNBC. Its re-emergence includes an overhaul on both clothes design and digital presence and includes a new app. “It’s really an all-new Gymboree, different in almost every single way,” said Gymboree Group chief executive Daniel Griesemer in an interview with CNBC.
Charming Charlie, a retail chain that specializes in jewelry and accessories, filed for bankruptcy in December 2017. But it must’ve really turned the charm on to its business plan, because the chain successfully re-emerged from bankruptcy in April 2018. Although the store’s restructuring required it to close down more than 100 stores — more than a quarter of its physical locations — hopefully the lack of debt will help the company regain a foothold in the world of trinkets.
Ascena Retail: 108 Stores
Retail conglomerate Ascena Retail Group — which owns Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, Loft and Lane Bryant, among other brands — has closed more than 100 stores so far in 2018, but unlike other stores listed here, the closures do not appear to be giving the group any leverage. With hundreds of more closures planned and a trend of declining revenue since 2016, Ascena seems poised for permanent closure.
Signet Jewelers: 120 Stores
Signet Jewelers has lost some of its luster in recent years, with declining revenues and a drop in profit between 2017 and 2018. The company is planning for more than 200 store closures by the end of the fiscal year 2019 as part of its “transformation” plan, with an expectation that 30 percent of revenue from the closed stores will transfer to the remaining Signet stores. Part of that transformation includes a focus on diversity, according to CEO Virginia Drosos. “Diverse teams make better decisions” she said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “They see each other’s blind spots.”
Sears Holding Company is the parent company of both Sears and Kmart, and right now it’s probably not too proud of its kids. Sears filed for bankruptcy in October 2018, preceding CEO Eddie Lampert stepping down from his position. Meanwhile, the inside of Kmart stores are looking barren themselves. Both stores face the same issues most retailers have nowadays: larger demand for e-commerce, declining mall traffic and a higher demand for off-price products, according to Business Insider. This has translated into more than 100 store closures for both brands.
The Bon Ton: 250 Stores
Earlier in the year, Bon Ton was ready to say bon voyage to its business of over 100 years, a victim of “the retail apocalypse,” according to CNN. However, it looks like the store is set up for a rebound thanks to a new owner. “A subsidiary of the tech company CSC Generation Holdings told USA Today that it has signed a deal giving it the rights to Bon Ton and its subsidiary department store chains,” according to CNBC. The new Bon Ton will focus on online shopping, and on the physical side of things, will emphasize a personal styling angle for its customers.
With 1,000 store closings in 2017 and an additional 250 so far in 2018, RadioShack is a greatly diminished presence from its once-dominant perch atop the heap of electronics industry retailers. Although the company once boasted a store within 3 miles of over 95 percent of American households, RadioShack has been battered by consumers’ increasing preference for online electronics shopping.
Best Buy: 257 Stores
Best Buy shuttered more than 250 stores in 2018, including all of its small-format mobile stores. “We had opened them about 12 years ago, at a time when the penetration of smartphones was very low, so this was a great growth opportunity,” CEO Hubert Joly told Business Insider. “Fast forward to 2018, smartphone penetration is a very mature industry.” Best Buy doesn’t appear to be in as dire straits as some other companies in this list. Although it didn’t churn out as much profit as it did last year, the company gained on 2017’s revenue by $2 billion. On the other hand, its stock value has fluctuated for most of the year.
Mattress Firm: 274 Stores
Mattress Firm’s business model was unfortunately not as firm as its mattresses. The sleep-focused retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2018, with a plan to close 700 of its stores. With more than 3,000 stores, it is the largest specialty mattress retailer in the U.S. According to company CEO Steve Stagner, the closures will bolster Mattress Firm’s balance sheet while optimizing its portfolio.
Toys R Us: 527 Stores
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in late 2017, which preceded its liquidation sales in March 2018. Besides the jobs lost to the toy store itself, this also resulted in toy manufacturers laying off some of their staff. Hasbro announced it would cut its employee force by 10 percent following Toys R Us’ closure.
Rite Aid: 1,871 Stores
Walgreens purchased Rite Aid in early 2018, and in March 2018, Rite Aid announced 1,932 stores were officially transferred to Walgreens. The transaction was valued at more than $4 billion.
These images showed crumbling department stores, overgrown parking lots, and decaying escalators.
Amazon could soon pave over the abandoned site and bring hundreds of jobs back to the area, according to the blueprints.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the project.
"Amazon is constantly investigating new locations to support the growth and increase the flexibility of its North American network to address customers' needs," she said.
Rolling Acres Mall opened in 1975 to great fanfare as the premier shopping destination for the surrounding community. It once boasted more than 140 stores with anchors including Macy's, JCPenney, Target, and Sears.
But customer traffic started to slow more than a decade ago, several department stores abandoned their leases, and the mall began to fail. It lost its last store tenant in 2013.