Driving along Skyland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, you’ll see what looks like an ancient ruin. A skeletal structure standing on rows of beams hovering over piles of steel debris, or what’s left of McFarland Mall.
Demolition of the mall resumed this spring after crews initially began razing the property in early 2021 when several excavators lined the front of the mall — which once housed stores like Dillard’s (formerly Gayfers), Goody’s, TJ Maxx, Picadilly Restaurant and the Fox 12 movie theater — as the diggers then tore into the old Shoe Station and Sticks N Stuff storefronts.
Now, there remain a few diggers and other construction equipment visible from the mall parking lot, with piles of rubble sealed off with chain link fencing and signs saying “Construction Area Keep Out.” The only thing left standing will be the Dollar Tree, still operational — and quite busy — despite the ongoing demolition.
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Property owner and local businessman Stan Pate told The Tuscaloosa News the completion of the 38.6-acre site’s demolition is “overdue” and said he hopes it becomes a “legacy project.”
Pate said last year the plan was to redevelop the property into “a regional sports-plex” beginning with the 2021 demolition. Pate and Amason Associates announced via press release that they engaged Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), LLC, to begin a market study to determine the specific aspects of the future mixed-use, multi-sport and events facility.
District 7 Tuscaloosa Council Member Cassius Lanier shared in April 2022 some ideas for future plans with WVUA 7.
“I have dreams for Top Golf, Buc-ee’s…Bass Pro Shops,” Lanier said. “It’s wide open for suggestions. I think we’ve got a lot of opportunities. We’ve been talking to a lot of different developers. Once we get it down and cleared up, I think the possibilities are endless.”
One restaurant building on the property was already razed prior to the February 2021 demolition, which marked the destruction of the original building, the 100,000-square-foot property at 900 Skyland Blvd East that opened in February 1969. Construction workers took down about 2.5 acres under roof and, in the coming weeks, will move forward on another phase where they’ll demolish another three acres.
The mall was built in 1968 and opened in 1969. Throughout the years, it was home to Gayfers department store (later Dillard’s), plus the Fox 12 movie theater (later a Regal franchise), a food court and other businesses like Woolco, TJ Maxx, Mall Shoe Repair, Orange Julius, Zayre, Drug Mart, Lee’s Big and Tall, Aladdin’s Castle arcade, Diamond Jim’s arcade, Goody’s, Piccadilly Restaurant, Bookland, The Athlete’s Foot, Vieux Carre Sports Bar and many others.
Businessmen Ward Wharton McFarland and James Hinton originally developed the mall for its first phase, with Woolco and Gayfers serving as anchor stores with 30 total stores at the opening.
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