It was just less than blistering hot Sunday, so I took a stroll with the camera.
Just across Reno to our north is a long dead-end paved street that ends at the foot of one of the oldest cell towers in our area. Along the east side of this street grows a strip of trees, mostly cedars. On the other side of them is a huge open field, the largest unoccupied space in our immediate area, with only one house in the middle hidden by more trees. Every time I walk past these cedars I hear them whispering in the breeze.
Turning away from the tower westward takes me across a mostly unused parking lot. Just across Air Depot is the old Heritage Park Mall. It symbolizes both a cultural shift away from shopping malls, but also the economic decline in America. On the north side, which is sort of the back of the place, you can still see vestiges of what was once a very fine department store, Montgomery Wards. I have had some car work done a couple of times in their automotive shop, seen extending out to the right of the main building.
About the time the mall began to die, it was bought out by some slimy property management outfit in California. They have disdained all the local laws, refusing to perform any of their obligations. I’m not sure what sort of legal barriers exist, but the local city government is not that far from seizing the whole thing and converting it to a municipal office campus. Meanwhile, there are just two actual occupants in this whole vast structure.
Viewed from the south face, the “front” side of the mall, you can see that Sears still operates from the near end (east end) because they own that portion of the building. It’s not busy, but Sears hasn’t made noises about closing it yet. At the far end, what was once a Dillard’s store, is the Midwest City campus of LifeChurch.tv. I believe they have bought their end of the building, so what’s left is a long intervening strip of stores along the inner mall-way strewn with the debris of a hasty closure of all the businesses. Could you go inside the central hall, you would see kiosks with cheap merchandise scattered all over the place. Some of the food vendors left some very fine equipment behind, but now obsolete. The mall has been dead for quite some years.
You can see the whole thing from any mapping service on the Net, at the intersection of Reno Avenue and Air Depot Boulevard in Midwest City, OK, on the northeast corner. Right now, it’s a very nice place for a quiet stroll almost any time day or night, if you don’t mind whole acres of unmaintained blacktop. But the lonely pavement-locked trees will still greet you as you pass.