This Tuscaloosa Shopping Center Has a Crazy Past–It Used to Be an Indoor Mall!
Tuscaloosa has a fascinating history, and its retailers are no exception. When you're out and about shopping, you have no idea what the building you're in may have been in a past life. There are restaurants downtown that used to be banks, apartments that used to be offices--and there's a shopping center that used to be an indoor mall.
McFarland Plaza, located off McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, started life in October of 1977 as Meadowbrook Mall. It was an indoor mall anchored by a Kroger (which is now where Stein Mart is located) and another retailer called Murphy's Mart. Meadowbrook Mall also housed a Revco Drugs, a Morrison's Cafeteria, and a six-screen movie theater named 'Bama 6.' Check out the map below--I've shown the location of the original stores and made notations as to the original perimeters of the mall.
Meadowbrook Mall began to decline, as the majority of the stores inside the mall were local retailers that were no longer drawing large crowds. The original owners of the mall defaulted on their loan in 1979, and by 1982, Meadowbrook Mall was under new ownership and renamed "Bama Mall."
Wal-Mart moved into the former Murphy's Mart location in 1987 and kept Bama Mall bustling for several years until the retailer moved to its current spot on Skyland Boulevard in 1993. Kroger left Bama Mall in 1994, and the space became a Delchamp's and then a Bruno's.
The owners of the mall felt that the best way to keep customers coming in was to bring the entrances of the interior stores to the front of each shop, transforming the indoor mall into a shopping center. The original mall all but disappeared. Over the years, many stores came and went--including Circuit City and Old Navy.
McFarland Plaza has seen a bit of a revival in recent years with the addition of Michael's, Ross, and TJ Maxx.
If you're curious, you can still see what's left of the old Meadowbrook Mall. Look inside the entrance to the now-closed Bama 6 Theater. The long hallway was originally part of the mall.
Want to read more? Check out this extensive history of Meadowbrook Mall from SkyCity2 HERE. The photos will blow your mind!