State Rep. Todd Stephens worked in the movie theater as a teenager. Erin Yealy shopped at Bradlees as a Horsham youngster. Doreen Kelly remembers eating pizza at Roman Delight.
Once a busy mall, with plenty of draws – from shopping, to food, entertainment and more – the run-down Village Mall now offers more vacant storefronts than it houses. Currently, Acme and a Dollar Tree are the only open stores at the strip shopping center, which is located on Blair Mill Road and Moreland Avenue in Horsham.
“It was such a great mall back then,” Willow Grove resident Sally Hendricks said of the site, which was built in the 1970s. “I so wish someone could do something to bring it back. The location seems good to me and there is great parking - it just somehow went downhill.”
Horsham Township Manager Bill Walker said land development plans have been in the pipeline since about 2008. When Carlyle Management Corp., the New York-based property manager of the plaza will move them to fruition is anybody’s guess.
Walker said he anticipates the owner to finish the land develop process this year. If and when that happens, Walker said the “hope” is for new façade improvements at the graffiti-laden mall. When asked if the township had pressured the company to revitalize the eyesore, Walker said, “I don’t think it’s pressure. I think they want to do them.”
In addition to new façade, Walker said the 4-year-old plans call for a new addition on Moreland Road, landscaping, stormwater management, the closure of the entrance by the largest vacant anchor, most recently housed by Walmart. The idea is to have one entrance and one exit, Walker said. Two satellite stores were also part of those plans, he said.
“They may have a couple of tenants lined up,” Walker said.
When reached for comment Thursday, Gerald Simon, CFO of Carlyle Management Corp., said he could not disclose specifics of the planned upgrades.
"It is in process," was all that Simon would say.
Even more recently than the plans from 2008 to revitalize the plaza, Horsham Township Council and the Horsham Zoning Hearing Board last summer flatly rejected plans to transform the shuttered Walmart into an indoor go kart racing facility.
Horsham resident Al Wipplinger, who lives across the street from the Village Mall, said he supported that decision.
Wipplinger, 72, owns Village Hardware in downtown Hatboro. He first opened the store in 1983 at the then-thriving Village Mall. Wipplinger said he relocated about six years ago after the then-new management company tried to double his monthly rent from $3,000 to $6,000 per month.
“They basically forced everyone out,” Wipplinger said. “And now you see what happens.”
Like the three dozen locals who reminisced about the mall’s heyday on Hatboro-Horsham Patch’s Facebook page, Wipplinger recalled a time when the Village Mall served as a one-stop shop for “just about everything.”
“When I started there in ’83, the mall was 100 percent occupied by merchants and it was very well-visited,” Wipplinger said, adding that much has changed since then. “Right now it’s just bricks.”