Throwback Thursday: End Of An Era For Former Mall Site

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When the former McDonald’s came down back in October of 2013, it marked an end of an era for Bristol. The building was the last remaining original structure on the Centre Mall site.

The removal of the structure brought hope and nostalgia to many.

TJ Barnes, Bristol GOP chairperson at the time said “On one hand I have some great memories of having my 6th Birthday Party there and then going over and seeing Star Wars the movie at the theaters right next store.  It is also nice to see the beginning of the future for the downtown and lets hope we now see things begin to move downtown. ”

Photo showing the mall before McDonalds was built. Photo: Bristol History Room
Photo showing the mall before McDonald’s was built. Photo: Bristol History Room

Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, then Council candidate said “Having grown up on Federal Hill, one of the coming of age moments for us was when we were finally allowed to venture downtown by ourselves. This sense of freedom encompassed the movie theater, McDonald’s and the mall. So I am both a little nostalgic and also hopeful at seeing this demolition occur. I am hopeful that the new downtown will be something that all generations of residents, young and old, will enjoy, and will redefine our sense of place and community for our existing merchants and future ones as well.”

1010 026Joan Morin of Bristol pulled over to watch the building go down. “This is good for Bristol but I had a lot of memories there. Hopefully they can start on phase one now.” said Morin.

The opening of the new restaurant and removal of the old, marked an important milestone for downtown Bristol. Many felt it would pave the way for phase one to start by Renaissance Downtowns.

Former Councilor Derek Czenczelewski said at the time “I’m very happy to see the final piece of demolition taking place on the Depot Square property and look forward to the start of Phase 1 as soon as Renaissance is ready to get shovels in the ground. I think I speak for most Bristol citizens when I say we are eagerly awaiting the “official” start of our downtown’s revitalization.”

Marketing piece used to promote the mall development before construction. Photo: Bristol History Room
Marketing piece used to promote the mall development before construction. Photo: Bristol History Room

Mark Walerysiak, with Renaissance Downtowns wrote on their community website (Bristol Rising) “Once the building is down and the site is clear, that will only help provide a larger lane for Renaissance Downtowns to lock in financing for the development, and after that happens away we go.”

In a prepared 2013 statement Ryan Porter, VP of Renaissance Downtowns spoke of the complexity of obtaining financing.

“Currently, Renaissance has been working diligently to put the final pieces together in anticipation of the upcoming groundbreaking by finalizing financing for the initial phase of the development. The thing most people aren’t aware of is the complexity required to finance and develop new construction in this day and age. It takes creative partnerships, creative financing, and long negotiations to pull it all together. We’re inching closer each day, requiring our utmost attention and inherently less spotlight.”

A 1992 article in the Hartford Courant is a great example of the beginning of the end for the mall.

A 2006 post by Labelscar said the mall was one of the strangest and most forgotten mall they’ve found in New England.

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