Thursday, May 10, 2007

Danbury Fair Mall Renovation Updates

Following a few e-mails I received just last week regarding the Danbury Fair Mall from a couple readers but one, Joseph, informed us about the progress of the impending renovation going on now. Since we last visited at March's end, the fountain was still operating but other parts of the center were slowly showing evolutionary results, including the removal of the staircases by the anchors.

No more than a short month plus later, The Caldor Rainbow returned and retrieved many images, thanks to a recent report by Joseph that the center is transitioning. Along with this revelation, Joseph made particular note of a few changes happening, upon a night visit with his own "poor cellphone picture quality" accompanied images. Here's what Joseph had to say:
1.) Removal of the fountain and it's walls
2.) Removal of the fountain (part deux)
3.) Transition of green rafters being painted tan
4.) One of the last stair cases (plant bed under was removed, but not stairs)
5.) One of the last stair cases (part duex; both 2 stair pics were taking near Lord & Taylor)

And plans for the year plus vacant Filene's? New anchors or not? He also supposes in a rumor that "Macerich recently bought the former Filene's [at Danbury], and they plan on leveling it and putting a split level parking garage with a "grand" entrance."

Ever since the beginning of renovation changes, as far back as December 2006, the Sears wing appears to have been the forecast showcase area of all the new hatchlings which will become of the new renovation including the replaced fabric-shaded lighting fixtures in favor of the (former) marquee globe bulbs, new flooring; now sampled in the vacant Filene's area. Upon our visit in early May, the center is draped almost halfway in its new tan colorings as most of the rest of the center is slowly becoming peeled away including the monochromes of the former tiling.

Here's some notable changes with accompanied pictures from our recent visit on Monday, May 7, 2006.










We'll likely return by July for updates. Until then, if you've got news, information or images, please send us your stuff. The site itself is sharing a few conceptual renderings (as well as photos) of the center's future look in high-resolution, as well as our complete gallery of images taken on May 7, so don't miss those for perspective.



Anonymous said...

I guess I'm first to comment.

Well besides the fact that they're tearing down Filene's for a parking garage (so much for a revenue generating store),removal of the fountain,and the ceilings painted tan,I'm actually liking this plan a lot so far!

You can already see that they place looks much more brighter and open. Which if I'm not mistaken was how many older malls used to be like,wide open spaced atmosphere with a few decorative touches to go along with it. (except those had birdcages,intricate fountains,and textured walkways)

It seems a bit more inviting already,makes it a bit more confortable shame they had to sacrifice the fountain though,nothing more relaxing than listening to running water,sigh.

but those colors tan,dark brown,and materials such as wood definitely hearkens back to many malls of the 60's and 70's.

The only way to describe how they designed malls back then is that they basically looked like modern palaces, to a degree.

one question how are those lamps going to illuminate? I can't see any thing that looks like it would hold a light bulb.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

The bulb(s) will likely be attached to the poles with the fabric covering (or accenting) them to create warmer, calmer lighting. We'll see how it plays out in a few months.

When you come here and see the extent of what they're doing it's really all about finally bringing the mall into the modern times. The tenant selection is changing and growing to more upscale offerings as well. With it comes some good and bad; bad is removing next to all of the installed planters and of course the fountain, which is to be downscaled. Modern day malls, are to a wide extent, boring (beyond shopping).

Based on the projections, the mall is taking an interestingly original "warmer" toned turn unlike typical homogenized remodel jobs elsewhere. If the finish product looks as good or better than the sketches, it might just be one of the state's most interesting malls and remodel jobs.

Danbury Fair Mall's greatest, distinctive asset is its sheer size; exceedingly stretching corridors that rival the Municipal Airport across the street!

In the end, I had hoped Macerich plans to keep the place as a lasting tribute to The Fair - it's one thing I don't believe ultimately considered enough with the remodel.

In the end, I want to remember this place through good memories and pictures I've taken of it. Inevitably, remodels will happen.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nick, thank you for advertising my name and my comments above....haha. Well, I'm begining to agree with Mark. Because at first I was so use to "growing up" with the original Danbury Mall tones that I thought the renovation was going to be a nightmare. But now when I look at it (especially the light fixtures and....the "stone style" floors), I'm beginning to like this new design....even though I'm still going to miss the original fountain like my old pet cat.

I am terribly sorry for the "LG camera phone" picture quality on that e-mail I sent you. SOMEDAY I'll be hip like you and I'll get a cool slick digital camera...I need one, badly.

I can't wait too see the new food court with it's 60s style psychedelic light pendants (from the concept picture) and the "gently curved panoramic" walls. According to the operator, Maura Ruby, she said that "when the food court is complete, the amount of restaurants will downsize from 16 to only 11."

I can't wait to get a glimpse of their "coffe bar" when the renovation is complete, I wonder if it's going to be anything particular, like a starbucks, or if their going to move Dunkin' Donuts down in that area, that'd be cool....Or perhaps they'll serve "Macerich brand" coffee, if so.

When Spring 2008 comes along, you should take A LOT of before and after shots.

Reguards, Joseph Rifkin

P.S. I am beginning to favor the renovation, but I really hope that they leave that outdoor "Fair theme" sign alone! When I get close to the DFM exit on 84, I can spot it easily, even if my windows are all fogged up...thanks to it's colors.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

That sign, blaring across the depths of 84, is a part of Danbury's culture and heritage!

I love that Danbury Fair sign - it's almost as iconic as the "Holy Land" cross perched atop that hillside over I-84 in Waterbury. I wonder though, has the Danbury Fair sign been there from before the mall days? Either way, that sign is a landmark and I would hope they don't tear it down. Macerich does not plan to renovate any of the existing exterior, apart the vacant Filene's, so there's a good chance the legendary sign stays.

So the food court will downsize? The picture also seems to suppose Nathan's and Sbarro will relocate (they haven't changed that buffet-style eat-in Sbarro since it opened!). Originally, the center had its four restaurants, I believe all containing their own eat-in portions, on each corner; Sbarro, Arby's (currently Rave), McDonald's, and Nathan's.

I hope Dunkin' Donuts (which I managed to salvage a few pictures of before they walled that area off) stays; man was that one of the court's most profitable eateries around the clock.

Anonymous said...

this mall is a carbon copy of freehold raceway mall with the elevator in the center court its amazing

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Freehold Raceway mall is a copy of this mall, with some differences.

As far as it comes to the sign.....I don't know man, check this page out and look at the second-to-last mark on the "project highlights" list:

As they said with the center court, they promised a coffee bar located ajacent to the water feature. I didn't see any coffe bar in the cocept photo however.

And I guess Macerich has changed their mind on keeping a large scale fountain in Freehold Mall. I can no longer find that old PDF file that contained that info, and now they have a concept image of the renovated center court with another "water feature" that's a little big bigger than the Danbury's new one. Complete with more soft seating in its place.

Every other week I usually drive by the Danbury Mall on 84. I plan on buying myself a new Sony Cybershot, and I will keep you updated when I have the time.

Joseph Rifkin

Anonymous said...

I've read their going to enlarge the walkways.

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way....I took a trip to the mall today. The management offices were open, so I've decided to walk in and ask a few questions, reguarding the renovation and Filene's. They said that no plans are being made to the former Filene's, and they told me to watch out for a lot of "false rumors" reguarding all this. So I guess they're trying to keep the info secret...

Anonymous said...

Wow still no plans for the Filene's building,sheesh I guess that don't mind loosing a large source of revenue.

It's not going to help them if the keep that building empty after the renovation,certainly won't help their image.

empty parking lots aren't really attracting.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with you mark. But after 10, 20, and even 30 years of any mall or plaza being cursed with an empty parking lot, they usually have something to fall right on top of a McDonalds, a Subway, a Pizza Hut, just to fill in the maybe that will be the case with Danbury....maybe even a movie theatre, or even.... Dicks Sporting goods.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Let me assure you they've got plans or aspirations (negotiations?) for the Filene's space. Do I know what for sure? No, but that space has stayed vacant for too long and this renovation coming along seeks perfect timing to do something with it.

Let it be known that nothing has been announced regarding Filene's; things have been very silent on the matter for years. So, the personnel aren't going to let you in on a "secret." To say they'd consider leaving the large dark spot through after the renovation is unbelievable.

My speculation leads me to think of what could go there; a much needed bookstore chain (why not Border's?). Ever since the Borders Group failed to renew the Waldenbooks lease (along with a slow-acting purge of the brand itself), the mall has no bookstore beyond CVS' magazine racks. People are going to need more to do in that expanded seating center court than just sip coffee.

There are no Borders in the area (I'm sure of) and there's a Barnes & Noble right across the way in Danbury Square.

Does this seem convenient? I'd like to think so.

I kind of fancied the idea of a "grand entrance" inclusion but that was just a rumor. Does this mall really need a second parking garage? It's (and generally those gaudy garages are) ghastly but a probable solution to the many this place hopes to attract post-renovation.

But also a likely one...

Anonymous said...

Danbury Mall did have a WaldenBooks last time I was there. A really OUTDATED one! It had to have been original. The color scheme was grey, orange, and red. The ceiling tiles were warping, and the indication book type signs were falling apart. So I'm guessing that this was original to the mall, and will probably be facing a renovation if so.

As far as it comes to the Filene's and the rest of the mall. The only way to find out is to wait.

Like you said earlier, let's see where this is heading a few months from now.

Anonymous said...

Nick, Check this out:

It shows you why the food court is "Panoramic", slated to open June 1st.


Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Interesting read, thanks for that link.

The removal of the arcade was bound to happen. As a matter of fact, any mall with an intact arcade is lucky seeing the grim end of trend for arcades in general marked at around the turn of the century. I don't know, I miss malls without arcades even if it brought a lot of riffraff on the weekends. The article brought light to another interesting point of malls aiming to serve the needs of more adult population

With videogames surpassing that of a $1.00 per play game these days, there's no wonder why many of these places are largely empty if they're lucky to still exist today.

Furthermore, it seems just about everyone who fedback on that piece wishes Danbury Fair Mall a bitter demise for I suppose what they call either homogenozing or marginalizing Danbury. I can partially understand, but then again I'm not a Danbury resident. It's kind of like that guy who loves Subway sandwiches but after working there he sees nothing but disgust for everything Subway!

Anonymous said...

Hah, tell me about it. You get that feeling when you work at every Restaurant...well, except for really good italian pizzarias, I must say.

Crystal Mall use to have it's own arcade in the food court, then it was moved over next to Game Stop where the dollar store is now. Danbury Mall use had tons of kids in the arcade, last time I looked in there....but when the Renovation is complete, it is sure that it will loose a lot of its young fans. They will be closing the other half of the food court and that half is slated to be complete by the fall, or so the article once said....


P.S. I still have access to the vintage Crystal Mall picture, but I DO NOT have the time to put it up at the moment. I am way to busy with three full time jobs it's not even funny. I am about to leave one of them, so hopefully it will give me the oppertunity.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Joseph: Can't thank you enough for your willingness to contribute. Whenever you've got the time, I would greatly appreciate and display your photo on my Crystal Mall page. I am very excited to see it and perhaps it will spark some memories of the mall's older look I seem to have forgotten.

In the meantime, you hang in there. My site's real flair comes from those who feedback with things like this!

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