Sorry, but I'm not crying for a dead mall being torn down. I'm actually envious of the residents of North Bethesda who happen to live near White Flint and have likely prayed for a targeted and purposeful tornado to touch down on a certain plot of land and go quietly into the night, faintly whispering through its whirlwind, "You're welcome."
Here in East Point, GA, we're not likely to see any such blessings soon when it comes to the horrible eyesore that has become Greenbriar Mall. But yes, I admit I'd love to see Greenbriar go away and be replaced with something that pays final respects to this relic of the past while moving progressively towards a stronger and more vibrant community. Bring on the wrecking ball. Tear it down.
Greenbriar Center opened in August/September 1965 as Atlanta's third totally enclosed mall, after Columbia Mall, in 1964, and North Dekalb Center, in July 1965. The design of the mall was like many of the early malls in Atlanta with an anchor store on each end and an enclosed concourse. The complex opened with Rich's on the east end and JCPenney on the west. It was the second-largest suburban Rich's when it first opened.
It was the very first shopping mall location of a Chick-fil-A. Local Atlanta businessman S. Truett Cathy took the chicken sandwiches served at his Dwarf House in nearby Hapeville and opened the Greenbriar store in 1967.
The mall had a movie theatre, and Record Bar opened one of its stores there, to be later supplanted by Camelot Music. There was also a Happy Herman's Liquor Store, a Woolworth's dimestore and a branch of the Atlanta Public Library.
So many questions, man. And like Sway, I ain't got the answers. But I do know that as of right now, the only reason to visit Greenbriar Mall is if you want Chick-Fil-A right now--and who other than a vegetarian doesn't, especially on Sunday--but you live in or close enough to the /Ben Hill area that going to the Cleveland Ave. or Camp Creek Pkwy locations doesn't make sense.
To their credit, Chick-Fil-A just does not change. The nuggets, fries, chicken sandwiches and everything else in the company's original location does not skimp on quality. It speaks to the African-American franchised restaurant operator's sense of community and corporate responsibility that he maintains the famously high standards of CFA (have you ever been to a "bad" Chick-Fil-A?). I also imagine the quality is due to CFA's legendary attention to everything that carries its brand, and the fact that this one's the first and therefore of sentimental value to its still-living nonagenarian founder S. Truett Cathy. Don't forget that the company headquarters is located in College Park. That's a short ride for the bosses if they ever want to see how things are going.
But Macy's? I barely even want to talk about the condition in which the Greenbriar location of this supposedly iconic department store finds itself today. You know how you get those Macy's gift cards from family members around Christmas? I took one to the Greenbriar post a few years ago, expecting the same quality commitment that Chick-Fil-A has to the mall's customers. After all, a dollar from any source spends the same, and should be respected as such. Without even trying to remember how poorly stocked and embarrassingly limited the selection was, I'll just say don't ever waste your time going there to purchase anything. And I don't mind saying that there's no excuse for this. So knowing that I could come across as a heartless and insensitive jerk to anyone that happens to work there, and with all due respect to the employees of the Greenbriar Macy's, I expect--or perhaps hope and wish--that it will be shut down soon. Because if the Greenbriar Macy's goes, so goes the mall. And if the mall goes, so goes the secured space that all of the stereotypical stores that have turned Greenbriar into an economic swamp in this changing area of town.
If Greenbriar is destined to remain as it is for another decade or longer, there is one scenario I'd love to see come to fruition. Chick-Fil-A, being nostalgic for the place where their very first location was built, and in a display of respect and gratitute towards the nearby community it serves, decides to sponsor the entire mall. It's not as unreasonable as it sounds in the era of sports venues leasing naming rights to major corporations. But let's not expect that. Let's just expect a crappy mall to hang around and hold back a community that could benefit greatly from its removal and replacement. Let's get used to a large, ugly place that once had potential but is now a chain around the neighborhood's neck. And let's not forget, those chains are probably hollow and fake, but that doesn't make them any easier to break.