The report that malls are dead, to borrow Jim Parrack’s famous line, is “an exaggeration” — at least around here.
Oh, wait. Jim Parrack is a real estate guy at Price Edwards & Co.
It was Mark Twain who said a report of his own death was an exaggeration.
Or was that Paul McCartney? No, no, I’m thinking of the “Paul is dead” rumor from “Revolution 9” on The Beatles’ “White Album.”
Or was it The Beatles all lined up in the funeral procession imagery on the “Abbey Road” cover? John in holy white, Ringo in undertaker black, George in grave-digging denim, Paul barefoot and out of step, as in dead?
I digress. I so digress. Hey, malls mean firsts to me:
My first music purchases — on 45s and 8-track tapes — and first book purchases, from Waldenbooks, in the ’70s, at Phoenix Village Mall and Central Mall in Fort Smith, Ark.
First visit with Santa Claus, first bounce in a bouncy house, first ride on a Shetland pony and first bicycle, at Phoenix Village Mall in Fort Smith, Ark.
First movie “date” in fourth grade (school trip), at Central Mall, also in Fort Smith. First taste of Chik-fil-A: Sikes Senter, Wichita Falls, Texas.
First meal and meeting with soon-to-be in-laws: Penn Square Mall. First purchase of a refrigerator (and other household appliances): Quail Springs Mall.
First purchase of a fine glass collectible (OK, a Swarovski kitty cat! Longtime Christmas habit for my sweetie!): Northpark Mall. First local purchase of NASCAR collectibles: Heritage Park Mall, RIP.
Yes, Heritage Park Mall, in Midwest City, is the only dead mall around here. Of course, it still could be resurrected; having a LifeChurch branch on the premises can’t hurt. Resurrection is what’s happening to Crossroads Mall, now Plaza Mayor at Crossroads, although it’s still in progress.
But most of the metro area’s malls are in great shape: Penn Square Mall and Sooner Mall, full; Quail Springs Mall, all but full.
Even Northpark Mall, at NW 122 and May Avenue, with a significantly higher vacancy — 17.5 percent at midyear, according to Price Edwards — is in good shape to be in a neighborhood.
As Jim Parrack said Friday, not Mark Twain in the 1890s, not worried fans of The Beatles in the 1960s: “There’s been a lot of talk in the world about dead malls and malls being a dying breed.”
There’s been a website since 2000: www.deadmalls.com.
“But if you really look at the mall business, the well-located malls are thriving all over the country,” Parrack said. “It’s the ones that have fallen out of favor in not-so-great areas typically that aren’t doing so well.”
Ours are still favored.
Parrack, a retail property specialist, not a cantankerous 19th-century author or worried 1960s Beatlemaniac, said:
Penn Square Mall? “It’s in the heart of our city with a good tenant lineup and is the best mall in Oklahoma. They’re getting ready to add a couple of restaurants to it. They’ve just remodeled the entrances and some of the common areas. It’s going to continue to do great.”
Quail Springs Mall? “With Von Maur replacing Sears, it’s going to be great. And I think it will allow that mall over the next few years to greatly upgrade the tenant mix, especially that wing that goes to the Von Maur store. People around here don’t know Von Maur, but they’re going to like them. And that mall sits in the middle of about 3 1/2 million square feet of retail space that is being built all around it. So its future looks good.”
Sooner Mall? “Not as big or prestigious as the other two, it remains full nonetheless and posts good results.”
Northpark Mall? “It’s not the vibrant mall that the others are. It’s smaller, and single-story. It can’t get the tenant mix of the other ones, and it’s really in a neighborhood as opposed to being on an interstate or in a more visible, high-traffic area. But Northpark does better than people think it does.”