Shannon Mall opened its doors on August 7, 1980, south of downtown Atlanta. Originally named after the developer’s daughter, the anchor stores consisted of Sears, Davison’s, and Rich’s. In 1986, they added another wing with Mervyn’s department store as the anchor. When it opened, Morrison’s Cafeteria was the only sit-down restaurant. A year later, the shopping center was renamed Shannon Southpark Mall. Shannon Southpark Mall remained a prosperous mall throughout the 1980s.
New management took over in the early 1990s, and the mall slowly began to decline. Developers built on the premise: if you build it, they will come. Unfortunately, that was not the result. Developers situated the mall in front of a large wooded area bordering a declining neighborhood. Initially, plans included building an office tower behind the shopping mall to increase foot traffic. However, those plans never materialized, and the foot traffic never came.
As the suburbs of Atlanta began to grow in the early 1990s, shoppers went elsewhere. New open-air strip malls and competing malls became effortless to access. The decrease in traffic and advertising severely affected the shopping mall. Toys-R-Us left in 1996 and Mervyn’s closed their doors the following year. JCPenney took over the old Mervyn’s wing in 1998. Management looked to find new startup type businesses to take up space in Union Station. However, with the lack of traffic, the companies could never get off the ground. Three years later, the mall was down to only 32 stores.
Unfortunately, the decline continued into the 2000s. The Mervyn’s wing lost so many tenants that the remaining ones were forced to move to another part of the mall. JCPenney left in 2000, and the Mervyn’s wing was blocked off entirely in 2004. By 2006, hardly any of the original retail stores remained. The owners again changed the name to Union Station in an attempt to attract new business.
The owners decided to build a family fun center in the Mervyn’s wing called Maxx-Fun. The fun center would include arcades, a bowling alley and an entertainment venue where the other storefronts used to be. After construction began, one of the developers suddenly passed away. Management assured the project was still moving forward. Although, over the next few months, no construction resumed. Soon, the mall’s website was shut down, and signage was removed.
In 2010, the last original tenant, Chik-Fil-A, closed its doors. The remaining tenants knew the end was near. The owners were unable to pay the power bill in November 2010, so the lights were turned off by Georgia Power. Tenants had a 5-hour notice the power would be cut off and that they had to vacate the building. Macy’s and Sears remained opened since they were on separate electric meters. With a lack of security and maintenance, Union Station fell into a state of disrepair.
In January 2011, both stores vacated Union Station as it went into foreclosure. The property was auctioned off on the courthouse steps the next day. Unable to find a committed buyer, the mall sat abandoned. An investment group from Alabama purchased the property in 2014. They planned to build a film and television studio on the site. In October 2014, the mall was demolished to make way for the studio.
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