Mall was only one of a handful of enclosed suburban shopping centers and the
first of its kind in Virginia when it opened three miles north of Roanoke in
1961 at the intersection of Williamson Road (US 11), Hershberger Road (Route
101) and Airport Road. Developer T.D.
Steele and his designers created a unique and popular shopping experience for an
eager public. Throngs of shoppers left
the long-dominant downtown to stroll through a grand two-story interior
shopping hall reminiscent of
one of three large suburban shopping centers built in the
Original anchors at Crossroads were JCPenney, Roses variety store, Heironimus department store, Winn-Dixie and Peoples Drug. Other original mall tenants included Fink’s Jewelers, Smartwear Irving-Saks (fine apparel), Sidney’s (women’s apparel), Thom McAn, Pete’s Deli, Cato Fashions and Bailey’s Cafeteria. Bailey’s was on the upper level and featured a open dining room that overlooked the mall’s lower level, which featured two large fountains and park-like greenery and benches.
Crossroads Mall was expanded to coincide with opening of I-581 which came
within a mile of Crossroads via
developer Steele was able to parlay his success into two other malls in the
About the time Steele’s malls had come into their own, developer Henry Faison proposed a substantial new shopping center called Valley View Mall that would be built on a large tract of land at the intersection of I-581 and Hershberger within a mile of Crossroads. The new mall was located in the “clear zone” for the local airport and was hotly contested for many years but by 1982, Faison had won approval for his plans and prepared for a 1985 opening.
It seems as
soon as Valley View started construction, problems arose at Crossroads Mall. Between 1980 and 1985, store vacancies began
to increase, including the loss of large anchors Winn-Dixie (1981), Woolco (1982) and Roses (1984). The mall’s décor and marketing became increasingly
tired and new trendy stores were signing to Valley View and Tanglewood
rather than locating at Crossroads, even if it meant waiting a year or two to
open. Crossroads rebounded somewhat when
Kmart signed on for most of the Woolco space in 1983,
but it was clearly in crisis, especially when JCPenney
announced it was leaving Crossroads for a larger, more modern store at Valley
View. To be sure,
christened the center Crossroads Consumer Mall, renovated the interior and
attempted to attract discount stores and outlets. Although the renovation added a food court
and helped the mall land Circuit City and Waccamaw
Pottery, among others, there was an eerie silence that enveloped the interior
of the mall (and still does to this day) as stores continued to leave and the
replacements generated fewer and fewer customers. The construction of another strip shopping
Along with Heironimus, the “Consumer” portion of Crossroads’ name was gone by the early ‘90s, as yet another owner, Zamias Services, began dismantling the small shop spaces and turning them into big-box spaces facing the outside, leaving a sad, empty interior promenade. The vast parking lots that surrounded the mall were carved up by Zamias in an attempt to generate cash flow. McDonald’s and Blockbuster helped cover up what was left of Crossroads Mall’s exterior which had been painted white to mask the effects of age.
Crossroads Mall is occupied but effectively dead. The anchors are Books-A-Million,
Crossroads Mall’s future is likely as office space. Roanoke-based Advance Auto Parts took over the former Waccamaw Pottery space (vacant since 1998) in 2000 and relocated some of its corporate offices there. As the mall empties out (the DMV is currently looking to leave Crossroads when its lease expires) Advance Auto is taking up more space. With little to no new retail headed for the site as it stands, Crossroads could become the corporate headquarters for an auto parts chain. It’s not a fitting end, but it is a resolution.