June 13, 2024

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Deserted Macon Target Being Demolished

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The once shiny, relatively new store has been shuttered since 2018, rapidly eroding into a blight and a magnet for local crime

Written by Investigative Reporter Brooklyn Lassiter

Once considered the ‘shopping Mecca of Macon’, the shopping area sits amid the looping stretch along Eisenhower Parkway between I-75 and I-475. Known as “Eisenhower Crossing,” with Presidental Parkway serving as the main thoroughfare providing access to the numerous shops, the once bustling business district has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. In that time, many notorious and household-name stores have called the location home. Stores such as Media Play, Marshall’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Pet Smart, Old Navy, Sears Hardware, K-Mart, and Target once filled the area and drew retail clientele from all around Central Georgia.

Those days appear to be long gone.

Now, those businesses, and far too many more to list, have packed up and headed for what they believe to be greener retail pastures. But what’s worse than just having to drive a few extra miles to visit your favorite big box stores, is that in their wake, these major store vacancies have left a lot more than just hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty retail space. The starker reality is that what they’ve actually left behind are large, rapidly aging, abandoned structures that are often magnets for crime, and which are quickly eroding into a blight on the face of that area of Macon.

Storefronts that once prominently advertised discounts and other sales now sit for sale themselves.

Marshalls moved north to Riverside Drive, while Dick’s Sporting Goods moved to Bass Road. Other businesses moved out of town entirely.

The Target store in question was shuttered in 2018, citing continuously declining sales over a prolonged period. The fact that no other retailer sought to occupy the relatively new structure as it sat vacant for some 5 years, speaks volumes about the stigma that now surrounds the area in retail circles.

But the list of retail woes along Eisenhower Parkway doesn’t stop there. The Macon Mall once consisted of over 1.4 million square feet of retail and food court space at its peak during the 90s –of course, like everything else along Eisenhower, that all changed in the early 2000s.

The economy plummeted and other shopping centers, like the Shoppes at River Crossing on Riverside Drive in North Macon, sprung up. Their first stores opened for business in 2008, and almost immediately attracted stores like Dillard’s Belk, and Dick’s Sporting Goods to cut bait on Eisenhower, and relocate, while other stores, such as J.C. Penney, closed their Macon locations altogether.

The community took another blow when the mall’s owners decided to demolish the entire east wing of the once sprawling center, in 2011.

The former Home Depot at the Westgate Shopping Center in Macon’s Eisenhower Parkway corridor has been vacant for well over a decade.

In the four census tracts taken in the areas immediately surrounding the Macon Mall, the U.S. Census says the average annual family income is about $29,000.

That number more than triples when you get up around Bass Road, where the U.S. Census says the average annual family income centers at right around $99,000.

Numerous attempts have been made in recent years to revitalize the area, but so far, none have succeeded in bringing new major businesses to the area.

We will, of course, continue to bring you updates as they happen.

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