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Belk, Dutch Square: December 2014   27 comments

Posted at 7:33 pm in closing

Well, this developed rather suddenly today. Commenter skysguy reported this early in the morning, and commenter Mr. Bo supplied this official link this evening: Belk's in Dutch Square is closing.

The chain is pitching it as doubling down on their Columbiana location, especially after getting extra space in the former Sears. However, they have had extra space in the Dutch Square store for *years*, and I believe if they had thought that store was viable, they could have re-opened the closed off spooky third floor (empty now except the hair salon and mens' room):

This closing pretty much puts the fork in the "mall" part of Dutch Square, and I would not be at all surprised to see the theater and Burlington closing their doors to the interior. (Office Depot already lacks interior access).

(Hat tip to commenter skysguy)

UPDATE 24 December 2014 -- All of the closing signage is up, and the store is half empty. If you want to buy some racks, step ladders, office chairs or nude mannequins, now's your chance. I'm not surprised fixtures aren't returnable, but I did find it a bit curious that regular merchandise is not returnable either, given we still have two local Belk's.

19 December 2014:
















UPDATE 4 February 2015 -- The closure is complete:















UPDATE 10 September 2015 -- Interestingly, the building still isn't quite cleaned out:



UPDATE 7 November 2015 -- Here's a closing ad in The State:


UPDATE 10 April 2019 -- As mentioned in the comments, this is now a Planet Fitness:


Also adding map icon,updating tags and changing Belks to Belk in the post title.

27 Responses to 'Belk, Dutch Square: December 2014'

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  1. I'm not surprised to hear this but it is rather sudden. I work close to the mall and stop in now and again and the Belk is always pretty empty, even during holiday shopping. I had no idea there was a third floor though.


    15 Sep 14 at 8:39 pm

  2. I am seeing Dutch Square Mall turning into another Richland Fashion Mall soon. The whole area of Bush River Road is falling apart. K-mart -gone, Shoney's - gone. I can't thing of a reason to visit the area.


    15 Sep 14 at 10:27 pm

  3. Ted made a comment on Have your say about the third floor being a ghost town. Has anyone been the the Columbia Mall Sears lately? So much of that store is closed off with partitions and curtains that it was hard for me to remember what used to be where in the store.


    15 Sep 14 at 11:03 pm

  4. The only reason I ever go to that area is to go to Manifest and that may be two or three times a year.


    15 Sep 14 at 11:04 pm

  5. Shoney's is about to be demolished to make way for a new Cookout (plans have been in the works for over a year now, but they haven't gotten the ball rolling yet)

    Kmart was overhauled in late 2012 to house NewSpring's one of those megachurches with 10 campuses statewide. It isn't the type of worship I seek but they're bringing in more people than Kmart ever did...even buying and razing a hotel to build an extra parking lot.

    I have a 2008 download of what Dutch Square's leasing map and looking through it I can say that the following have left in that time (with a few others I know have come and gone over the course if the intervening years):

    - Maxway (now a Planet Fitness)
    - Dollar Tree
    - RadioShack (moved to Bush River Village)
    - John Miranda SC Artist
    - 2 Hot
    - Charlie's
    - Electronics Botique #0522
    - Dressbarn #663 (recently a thrift store called The Giving Tree is opened in their former spot)
    - Fines Street Stuff (now Beautyline)
    - Fashions Unlimited (now Evolution)
    - Picadilly Cafeteria
    - Chick-Fil-A
    - Friedman's Jewlers
    - Meritt's Jewlery (now houses Computers Unique)
    - Claire's
    - Great Steak and Potato (now Café and Scoop)
    - Women of Distinction
    - GameStop
    - A Slice of Itlay
    - Davino's Pizza
    - Gabby's Pizza
    - Stuft-Stuff
    - Beauty Line
    - Burger Time
    - China Max
    - Women of Distinction (this spot has had Fashions Unlimited come and go but it houses Cheers Transitional Services Center)
    - Kitty's Hallmark
    - Kidz Fashions
    - Treasures (now Gold Plus)
    - Fines Street Stuff (now Beautyline)
    - Fashions Unlimited (now Evoluton)

    Bear in mind this was AFTER Walmart #4379 opened up at 1326 Bush River Road. I remember people thinking that it'd clean up the strip as the new Walmart would bring rejuvenated interested...yet Belk will be the 32nd store (per my above list) to leave Dutch Square over the course of the years that the Walmart has been there...and Phillips Edison has struggled to replace them. Plus (especially to those that remember its pre-Columbiana days) it has a reputation in which it isn't what it used to be that I think is bring a different caliber of folks where that is leading them to believe that Dutch Square isn't as strong as it used to be. I've had a harder time since I'm too young to remember its pre-Columbiana days but now not even I can deny that this mall is on a downward trajectory (unless Phillips Edison can replace Belk's old space in short order)...


    15 Sep 14 at 11:10 pm

  6. I read an article a few days ago about a city (don't remember which one) that re-purposed a mall sort of like the old Arcade Mall downtown into apartments where each storefront was turned into a residence.

    I'm not sure if it would be possible but how about turning Dutch Square into a residential/commercial complex? Yeah, I've had several adult beverages, but bear with

    Disregard the Belk store (not sure what to do with it). Take everything below the food court and convert it to apartments and stores that cater to peoples everyday needs. As an example, keep The Rogue (with an outside entrance for non residents). Reopen the old Morrison's/Picadilly's with the same constraints. Turn at least part of Burlington's into a grocery store for use by tenants (with discounts) and others. Keep the theaters and offer tenants discount tickets. Reopen the food court shops and allow tenants to operate them in lieu of free rent. Secure the inside of the mall so that it can only be accessed by tenants and their guests. Turn it into a place where the residents will have everything they need right there at home. Heck, I'd live there!! I know it sounds like a commune or co-op but, hell, I'm an old hippie that was born a few years too late.

    But they I think about where the whole shebang is located and I think, maybe not.....


    16 Sep 14 at 12:56 am

  7. I remember seeing plans after Dressbarn closed to redevelop portions of the mall as a medical office of some sort or even bring in offices for a law firm (or something along those lines) one point you could walk by the space Dressbarn vacated and see two different easels with renditions of what they had in mind. Now a thrift store is in their old spot...I think those ideas were shelved but no telling what Belk's departure will bring to the mall...

    I'm not sure about how I feel about Homer's idea working but I could see NewSpring people moving there and liking the ability to walk to church...I do have my doubts about I recall, someone had something like that planned for Midtown at Forest Acres but it fell through. But then that developer foreclosed before ultimately Century Capitol Group acquired it which resulted the resurrection of the Richland Mall name.


    16 Sep 14 at 1:22 am

  8. Will the last tenant leaving Dutch Square please turn off the lights?


    16 Sep 14 at 8:47 am

  9. It must have been in the late 60's that we would drive from Leesburg Road all the way to Dutch Square. I don't have a clue why except maybe because it was cool or something for my Mom and Dad to shop there.
    I do remember at 10 years old or so that Dutch Square was pretty awesome. It seems like not long after that Columbia Mall opened and Mom and Pop would go there.
    It was just a thing, during that time, as Malls are not so cool anymore.


    16 Sep 14 at 7:21 pm

  10. From what I've read Dutch Square opened in 1970 and Columbia Mall opened up in 1977...

    At one point Phillips Edison had in their characteristics of Dutch Square that it featured Columbia's most successful Belk which had me thinking it was here for the didn't even occur to me that as they expanded their Columbiana locaiton that Dutch Square was on the chopping block...20/20 hindsight, I felt that Belk downsizing their inventory and moving off the 3rd floor a few years back was a sign that something was up though I didn't realize it at the time.

    Just since Walmart #4379 opened on May 9, 2007, I'd say around 35 stores (maybe more) have left Dutch Square...a few have recieved replacements, some have had replacements come and go, but as it stands currently, outside of Belk, about a third of Dutch Square is currently vacant.


    16 Sep 14 at 8:34 pm

  11. Up until a few years ago the third floor actually had merchandise. It was consolidated into 2 floors somewhere in the 2008-11 timeframe...

    From what my dad has told me, JB White originally had 2 floors and added a I wonder if we should have thought something was up when they consolidated down to two floors...

    Another thing, Phillips Edison used to say that Dutch Square had Columbia's most successful Belk (which has been removed) on their bulletpoints on Dutch Square.

    It occurred to me about 3 or 4 years ago how lucky Dutch Square was that JB White didn't close when they built the Columbiana store in 1996. Two years later, JB White's parent company (Mercantile Stores, Inc.) sold to Dillard's but they bartered a few things that resulted in them becoming Belk (at the time Dillard's had locations at Columbiana, Columbia Mall and Richland Mall)...I wasn't excited about it and even went through a phase where I wish JB White would come back but the Wiki page on JB White tells me that it isn't in the cards.

    Now Dutch Square is after all losing a major anchor tenant with Belk's departure which can't bode well (especially if it remains vacant for an extended period of time)...


    18 Sep 14 at 1:11 am

  12. It's my understanding that the third floor is largely storage for seasonal decorations for this and the other area Belk stores, which does pose the question of where that stuff is going to go now.

    I suppose they could just leave Christmas decorations up year-round, like every retailer secretly wants to do already.


    18 Sep 14 at 11:17 am

  13. The owners of Dutch Square have had years to come up with a plan for that mall. Ever since the Harbison area started to spring up and that was in the late 80's (I am pretty sure Columbiana opened in 1989.) Right then they should have seen the writing on the wall and started planning for today. Instead of planning ahead the owners are stuck with a huge property that is mostly vacant. I would be shocked if after Belk leaves they are able to pay the light bill and insurance etc with the rent the collect from other stores.

    I have a friend that works in retail leasing at a very popular mall in Charlotte. He told me that most of the leases are probably percent of sales instead of a monthly amount due each month. He said that is what dying malls do to keep the few tenants they have left and its good for when they are going after mom and pop stores to take space. I am pretty sure this is what is going on at Richland Mall.

    Doing the above is like putting someone on life support. They are all but dead but the machine is just prolonging the inevitable.

    I really do not feel bad about the closing. I have tried to shop there before and really do not feel comfortable in that store. I guess because it looks so old.


    18 Sep 14 at 11:49 am

  14. I've run the numbers and here's what I've found about Dutch Square's vacancy rate (per Phillips Edison's leasing map on Dutch Square):

    Currently, the mall's building has a square footage vacancy rate of 9.6% (which I admit is smaller than I anticipated it being). Currently there are 19 spots listed as AVAILABLE on the site plan.

    Once Belk leaves, the square footage vacancy percentage will rise to 47.3% (Belk accounts for 37.7% of the square footage that is leased out which is no small portion).

    On paper, Dutch Square looks like it has more life in it than most people here think it does but to those that remember its pre-Columbiana days (I am too young for that as I was a toddler when Columbiana opened in 1990) it's a mall that is (as William implied) almost on life support...I almost feel as if the folks here that interacted with Dutch Square in its pre-Columbiana days see it as a mall that is on an irreversible downhill trajectory.


    18 Sep 14 at 3:28 pm

  15. I am guessing maybe what was in the on the state newspaper site was wrong regarding the vacancy rate. I think it said the rate was going to be near 60% once belk left.


    18 Sep 14 at 6:51 pm

  16. My numbers are based on the square footage numbers Phillips Edison had on their Dutch Square site plan...I double-checeked The State article William referenced and found that they did their numbers based on a CBRE and there's somewhere 8,553 square feet of vacant space that Phillips Edison doesn't have listed as vacant that CBRE's research does...I'm not sure who is right or wrong but the bottom line is that Belk's departure doesn't bode well for the future of Dutch Square mall (unless it can somehow land Macy's, Crate & Barrel or another comparable department store).


    18 Sep 14 at 10:51 pm

  17. The Going out of business signs have been installed on this Belk...marking the beginning of the end of Belk at Dutch Square as Phillips Edison works to fill a large void...


    28 Nov 14 at 9:35 pm

  18. Ok folks, the Belk signage is now officially off of this building...and now Phillips Edison has a tall task on their hands to replace 203,459 square feet of space (not including the other vacancies outside of Belk)...This now former Belk is one of 24 vacancies Dutch Square currently has...

    On the bright side, 33 spaces continue to hum along with that metric, 58% of the spots are currently occupied...


    14 Mar 15 at 12:14 am

  19. I think many of us are cautiously and tactfully tip-toeing around the true issue for many of the department stores in the Columbia area. I have an acquaintance who worked the security surveillance in a major department store in Richland County. Shoplifting in the anchor stores at many of the malls, is unimaginably epidemic. Not even the sharpest surveillance and foot patrols can keep up. At any given time, as many as three shoplifting incidents are occurring in a store, over the course of a day. That can add up quickly. And these shoplifters aren't going for the marginal inventory, but the high-dollar prestige lines. And many of them know every trick in the book. There have to be at least 500 ways to defraud a store of its merchandise, and my acquaintance in surveillance has seen just about all of them. Everything from hiding merchandise in baby carriages, to inserting merchandise in shopping bags from another store, to putting on swimsuits and jeans on UNDER outer clothes in the dressing rooms and walking out, to snatch-and-runs near the entrances and exits. Many shoplifters are borderline professionals and repeat offenders. They know where the cameras are, how to stand outside of the view of them, and how to get around detection. My friend estimates for every one paying customer there are upwards of eleven or twelve making off with items without paying for them. Smaller boutiques and dollar-type stores are not immune by any means. Neither are the kiosks set up in the mall itself. The extra costs are often passed on to the consumer. If we want to know the real reason behind all the closings, it's time to get real world and honest with ourselves.


    13 May 15 at 1:12 pm

  20. I wonder which one should move in Belk's. Should it be Macy's? Dillard's is at Columbiana, Sears is at Columbiana, JCPenney is at Columbiana, and Burlington is at another area.


    13 May 16 at 7:05 am

  21. Sears left Columbiana about 2 years ago...several people here (myself included) feel that Columbia Place Mall's Sears isn't long for the world and plus Sears (in general) isn't in the greatest of shape as they keep closing stores...about a month ago they announced they'd be closing 10 Sears and 68 Kmart this summer (the only SC one is the Kmart in Camden which I hate to see go as I've enjoyed it the several times I've been in it).

    I'd love to see Macy's but not sure how this space would appeal to them...Columbia Place Mall is the only one we have and the problem is that that mall doesn't have the greatest of reputations so Dutch Square could be a good alternative...


    13 May 16 at 11:44 am

  22. @Andrew Oh my goodness, I totally forgot Belk's closed at Columbiana! How could I forget?

    Anyway, I guess Sears can be a perfect alternative, too! Also, there is a crab shack restarant from Florida that should be in Dutch Square by the end of the month.


    13 May 16 at 12:03 pm

  23. Belk is still at Columbiana but Sears is the one that left about 2 years ago...Belk opened a men's store in half the space that Sears vacated and now the other half is in the process of becoming Dave & Buster's...I had wished that it'd become Macy's or Crate and Barrel but neither of those came to fruition...


    13 May 16 at 12:58 pm

  24. Today I noticed signage leading me to believe that Planet Fitness (which is currently in the former Maxway space) will be moving into a portion of this former Belk...


    26 Jul 17 at 8:25 pm

  25. As Planet Fitness continues to take shape in a portion of this former Belk I've noted that Wes Bolek Bedrooms (which was located between Belk and Burlington and was one of the stores that has an exterior entrance) on the Bush River Road side of the mall


    21 Jan 18 at 1:32 pm

  26. Dutch Square Mall opened in 1970, Columbiana Mall opened in 1990. I worked for Music Land at Columbia Mall for a short time before they opened the new location at Columbiana, and help set up the store. JB White's was a big was Woolco. Dutch Square it only a ghost of its former self..and now that time has come and gone. I think it's just a matter of time before the Mall is abandoned and it falls apart just like Richland Mall.


    4 May 18 at 2:10 am

  27. Meant to say that DSM IS a ghost of its former self.


    4 May 18 at 2:16 am

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