Good ol’ LVM

December 2021

I have nothing to show for it yet, but I am working on content for this blog! Still doing research and making a timeline and such. I’m trying to do it digitally as much as possible and not printing a bunch of newspaper clippings that’ll end up trash later. Even though that’s what I’ll probably wind up doing because that’s what I did in school and paper is easier to organize somehow.

Anyway, I read in the newspaper today that the Logan Valley Mall successfully had its assessed value lowered with the Altoona Area School District so it can pay less in taxes. Namdar is claiming the mall is now worth $18 million rather than $22 million….which still seems way too high.

Logan Valley is my local mall and it has fallen on hard times in recent years. The cracks were starting to show in 2018-2019 or so, but Covid kicked off a mass exodus that leaves the mall currently about half-empty. This mall’s main claim to fame is that it was famed developer Crown American’s first mall. It was their only two-story construction. The original stretch of mall was completely destroyed by a fire in 1994, which gave Crown American a chance to modernize and expand the mall even further into the huge building it is now. Crown American, who struggled financially through much of the 90s, merged with PREIT in 2003.  I will talk more about this some other time. 😛

November 2021

For a long time, I had felt that Logan Valley was kind of immune to the vacancy problems that plague other malls because Altoona has long been known as the shopping capital of this region (between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg). We have almost every nationally-known retail store or chain restaurant known to man, and it was the mall that kicked off the miles of sprawl that is now the Plank Road area.

Folks still come to Altoona to shop, but these days, you’ll see bigger crowds at Walmart or a dollar store because that’s all many people can afford. For higher-end brands, there’s Burlington, Gabe’s, Ross, TJ Maxx. For a nice department-store experience, we have Boscov’s in a rival shopping center. We still have lots of retail but State College has more options these days, some of them more upscale.

Skylight outside former Applebee’s (May 2023)

PREIT sold the mall off back in 2017 and the rumors swirled back then that UPMC purchased the mall to convert it into a new hospital or something, and Altoona hates UPMC. Of course, it turned out that Namdar was the buyer, but half of Altoona still believes that UPMC is the real owner. It’s all part of some Deep State conspiracy to kill all the Republicans or something.

Former Carmike/AMC (Aug 2021)

Anyway, Brandon and I visited the mall last weekend for the first time in a couple of months, and I was surprised at how empty it was. Granted, we were there on Mother’s Day and the weather was nice, so maybe everyone was somewhere else, but the crowd was probably half what it usually is on a weekend. The mall is usually dead during the week and packed on the weekend.

Despite all this, this is still the only halfway decent mall store-wise in this region. We still have Old Navy, VS, Hollister, FYE, Hot Topic, Torrid, Aeropostale, Buckle, and a few others that have mostly left the malls in this part of the state. We have a Bath & Body Works, but they opened a much larger store in another shopping center, so who knows how much longer they’ll remain in the mall. If the mall weren’t so big, it wouldn’t seem so empty. The mall has been a local joke for years, but the people who make fun of it have clearly never been to some of the half-abandoned structures in more rural parts of the state.

Macy’s and JC Penney still hang on as anchors, and I think the mall will remain open as long as Penney’s does. Macy’s hasn’t had enough inventory to fill shelves in years and will probably shutter the next time the company announces a round of closures. Sears left in 2019, the movie theatre closed in 2021, and Applebee’s left last year. I don’t think Macy’s has ever been a huge draw, but if Penney’s pulls out, this mall is probably fucked.

Sorry, this wound up being longer than I wanted it to be. I will go more into depth about the history of this mall in the future.  Especially the fire.  The mall fire is one of those “where were you” moments if you’re local. The history of this place is what made me interested into digging into the histories of these malls in general, so stay tuned. 😛

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