Downtown Walla Walla: "Shopping wars" Walla Walla Shopping Tip by karenincalifornia
Walla Walla Shopping: 2 reviews and 2 photos
Walla Walla is a case study for a typical US town with a tussle between downtown shopping and outlying shopping malls. From Walla Walla's hey day at the turn of the century to mid 1900's, downtown Walla Walla was the place to shop if you lived in the area. In the 1970's, it started on a downward slide, and became sorely neglected. To make matters worse for downtown Walla Walla, in 1989, a large enclosed mall, Blue Mountain Mall, opened a few miles away, which drew most of the remaining shoppers away from downtown. Department stores in downtown lost money and were sold. The Marcus Whitman hotel went condo for lack of visitors. The downtown became seedy and deserted.
Beginning in 1990, the city of Walla Walla began work on a multi year revitalization of downtown. As the downtown improved and added shops, it drew shoppers away from the enclosed mall. Moreover, like cities elsewhere in the US, the large enclosed mall fell out of vogue, and was abandoned by shoppers. Tenant stores vacated and the food court became empty.
What to buy: Today, downtown Walla Walla is a small but charming collection of boutique shops, cafes and wine tasting rooms. The condo complex became the Marcus Whitman Hotel again after a $35 million renovation. The city's revitalization project was so successful that downtown Walla Walla has won coveted awards.
The Blue Mountain Mall, on the other hand is practically an empty shell now. Word has it that a buyer may step in, buy the entire mall, demolish it, and rebuild it as an open air shopping center, just like what is happening in other cities. Then shoppers will flock there. What will happen to downtown? I am betting it will survive - Walla Walla is on the upswing with its fledgling wine and tourism industries. It should only get better.
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