The Riverchase Galleria, locally known as The Galleria, is a large, super–regional shopping mall Hoover. It is managed and partially owned by General Growth Properties and is Alabama's largest enclosed shopping center with 1.9 million square feet of total retail floor area. Its 218 stores and restaurants are also one of the state's most popular tourist destinations, attracting customers from neighboring states. During 2008 the mall reported 15 million shoppers, making it Alabama's busiest shopping center. The mall's general manager is Mike White.
Located on U.S. Highway 31 between Interstate 459 and Alabama State Highway 150, the Riverchase Galleria complex includes the two-level Galleria Mall, the 15-story, 330-room Hyatt Regency hotel, and the 14-story, 275,000 square foot "Galleria Tower" office building (now called the Offices at 3000 RiverChase), both accessible from the mall's central atrium. The Galleria is part of the Riverchase planned development, including a residential community and a business community located in the southern part of the city of Hoover. The style of the Riverchase Galleria is modeled after the Houston Galleria and is notable for having the "world's longest skylight" at 200 feet.
In 1975 a deal was announced between Harbert Corporation and the Equitable Life Insurance Company, the developers of Riverchase, and the Rouse Company of Baltimore, Maryland. The announcement forecast a $30 million, 850,000 square foot Riverchase Mall on the 70-acre site.
On June 5, 1985, during the final construction phase, a fire broke out on the roof of the mall's office tower, causing extensive damage to the roof and the top floors of the tower. It was determined that the fire was caused by a hot tar roofing kettle.
The Galleria was eventually developed by Jim Wilson & Associates and opened on February 19, 1986. Initially 1,200,000 square feet with four anchor stores — two Birmingham-based chains, Parisian and Pizitz — along with Rich's and J. C. Penney. In March 1987, the mall added its first Macy's store at center court, marking the company's first store in Alabama. Within the same year, the Pizitz chain was acquired by McRae's of Jackson, Mississippi, and subsequently renamed. In 1995 Parisian expanded their store by almost two-thirds, while in 1996 Sears and a new wing were added, making Riverchase Galleria a total 1.9 million square feet in size. The expansion made it the largest mixed-use project in the Southeast, and one of the top 10 largest mixed-use projects in the United States. The mall was renovated in 1998 and again in 2001. An inscribed floor tile was installed near the atrium elevators to mark the completion of the 2001 renovation.
In 2003, the mall began to feel the effects of department store consolidation when the Macy's anchor store closed, while the Rich's location was renamed Rich's-Macy's. Following the closure of the original Macy's location, the property was sold to Saks Incorporated, by then the parent of both McRae's and Parisian. Saks kept the west side anchor space vacant for more than a year before reopening the extensively renovated store in October 2004 under its Proffitt's division, giving the company three different anchors at Riverchase. On March 6, 2005, the Rich's-Macy's store was officially rechristened as Macy's. Later in 2005, Saks sold its Proffitt's division — including most of the McRae's chain — to Belk. As a result, Saks closed the 131,000 sq ft McRae's store. Belk dissolved the separate Proffitt's organization, and on March 8, 2006 (almost exactly one year following the Rich's conversion) the Proffitt's store at Riverchase became the mall's first Belk store.
In late 2003, Jim Wilson & Associates sold 50% of the Galleria to General Growth Properties, which assumed management control. General Growth also owns Century Plaza in Birmingham. Sam Warbington became the mall's general manager on March 17, 2008, having previously managed Brookwood Village. Warbington was succeeded by Mike White in November 2016.
In 2006, Belk acquired the Parisian store chain from Saks Incorporated. Additionally, the former Pizitz/McRae's location simultaneously became available for occupancy. The store had remained vacant since the 2005 closure of McRae's as a result of a lawsuit between the Pizitz family (which had retained ownership of the store real estate after its sale in 1987) and Saks Inc. (which inherited the lease obligations of its defunct McRae's operation). As part of its merger of the Parisian stores into its operations, Belk closed its location in the original Macy's space in favor of the former Parisian. The upper level of the former Pizitz/McRae's has since been converted to a Belk Home & Children's Store, with its grand opening held on November 14, 2007.
On November 30, 2007 the Galleria announced that the Seattle, Washington-based Nordstrom department store planned to open their first Alabama location in the mall in 2012. That plan was canceled in 2009 as General Growth Properties reorganized under bankruptcy.
In 2010, the City of Hoover commissioned a study to determine if it were feasible to construct a small convention center, with 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 25,000 square-foot exhibition hall, and a 2,000-seat theater which could also be used for Hoover City Schools programs, in the original Macy's anchor location on the mall's west side.
That plan was set aside as Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur proposed to occupy the former Macy's site. More than $100 million was spent renovating and refurbishing the property for Von Maur, which opened on November 2, 2013, and other new tenants. CMH Architects designed the renovations, which included the installation of large fabric "sails" stretched beneath the atrium skylights and lit with color-changing LEDs.
The Galleria shut down for several weeks in March and April 2020 during government-mandated social distancing due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Galleria is generally rectangular and tilted slightly northwest of a north-south axis along its length. J. C. Penney has occupied the north end anchor space since the mall opened in 1986. At the south end the mall splits along a diagonal into two more anchor spaces, a closer one to the southeast and slightly farther one to the southwest. The southwest anchor is part of the aforementioned mall expansion added in 1996.
A full-size, authentic 19th Century Dentzel Carousel is located in the food court in the central atrium. In the past, the carousel was dismantled for part of the year, with foliage and a fountain in its place, and reassembled for the holiday season. Currently, the carousel has remained in place for several years. Occasionally, the traditional carousel animals are replaced with reindeer for the holiday season.
In the middle of the eastern side is a Hyatt Regency Hotel (formerly the Wynfrey Hotel) with anchor store spaces abutting the north and south sides of it. Across from the hotel, the Offices at 3000 RiverChase office tower rises in the middle of the western side with another anchor space extending to the west of it. A 2,798-space parking deck lies to the north of this anchor while a 2,915-space parking deck lies to the south. A U-shaped ramp surrounds the anchor, providing automobiles direct access to both the main level of the office tower (above the mall's upper level) and the top levels of the two parking decks.
Most of the mall entrances are provided through the anchor stores or via the multiple pedestrian bridges from the parking decks which connect to the mall's upper level and the anchor store between the decks. The mall can also be accessed directly from the hotel and via elevator from the tower. There is a single entrance going directly from the parking lot to the mall's interior between the hotel and the southeast anchor.
The area immediately surrounding the mall is all parking lot surrounded by a road known as Galleria Circle. Along the outer perimeter of Galleria Circle are a series of outparcels occupied by restaurants and retailers. The parking lot surrounding the mall and two parking decks give the center over 10,000 total parking spaces.
When it opened in 1986, access to the Galleria was limited to three entrances on U.S. Highway 31 and two on Alabama State Highway 150. The mall's opening led to frequent congestion at the nearby I-459/Highway 31 intersection on both roadways. Proposals for an additional exit going directly to the Galleria were made as early as 1994. Construction finally began in 2000 and the exit, including the Galleria Boulevard flyover, opened in late 2002. Galleria Boulevard runs north-south just to the west of the Galleria, between it and the adjacent Patton Creek Shopping Center, which was built in 2003.
On Thanksgiving evening, November 23, 2017 a fight broke out between two women on the mall's upper level. The disturbance led the mall to close 40 minutes early. A year later, also on Thanksgiving, November 22, 2018, two people were wounded in a shooting and Hoover Police Department officers shot and killed another man. The circumstances surrounding the police-involved shooting led activist groups to hold demonstrations at the mall and to promote an economic boycott of all Hoover businesses.
A man was shot to death in a vehicle in the north parking deck on June 26, 2019 during a robbery staged at a planned drug transaction. On July 3, 2020, an 8-year-old boy was killed and three others wounded in a shootout near the mall's food court.
Those shootings prompted Brookfield Properties to upgrade its security efforts, including improved cameras and communications equipment, and the use of "gun-sniffing" dogs. In addition, the Hoover Police Department reopened its Galleria Substation and added extra patrols.
|Location||Current store||Square footage||History|
|North end||J.C. Penney||135,163||Opened February 1986.|
|East side, north||Belk||203,500||Opened February 1986 as Parisian, converted September 2007 to Belk.|
|West side||Von Maur||255,000||Opened April 1987 as Macy's, closed April 2003 after acquisition of Rich's. Opened October 2004 as Proffitt's, purchased 2005 by Belk, converted March 2006 to Belk, moved September 2007. Remained vacant until Von Maur opened in November 2013.|
|East side, south||(See next rows.)||131,000||Opened February 1986 as Pizitz, acquired by and renamed 1987 to McRae's, closed 2005. Split into separate spaces on each level in 2007.|
|East side, south, upper level||Belk Home||65,000||Opened November 2007.|
|East side, south, lower level||Forever 21||66,500||Opened August 2013.|
|Southeast end||Macy's||220,000||Opened February 1986 as Rich's, renamed February 2003 to Rich's-Macy's, renamed March 2005 to Macy's.|
|Southwest end||vacant||150,000||Opened 1996 as Sears during a mall expansion. Closed October 2019|
|Riverchase Galleria Anchor Store Timeline|
|East-South||Pizitz||McRae's||Belk Home (upper level)|
|Forever 21 (lower level)|
- Galleria Circle
- 3200: Galleria 10 cinema (1988–2005), Aveda Institute (2010–2019)
- 3230: CompUSA / Sears Tire Center (1995-2003), Earth Fare (2015)
- 3240: Sears Auto Center (2011-2018)
- 3250: STIX restaurant (1995-2019)
- 3300: Pep Boys (2019)
- 3320: J. Alexander's Redlands Grill (1995-2019)
- 3340: Tony Roma's (1995), La Paz (-2015), On Tap Sports Café (2019)
- 3420: National Tire & Battery (1995), Big 10 Tires (2003), National Tire & Battery (2019)
- 3430: Tia's Tex-Mex (1995), Bonefish Grill (2003-2019)
- 3440: Fuddrucker's (1986-1995), Outback Steakhouse (2019)
- 3450: Olive Garden (1986-2019)
- 3460: Just for Feet (1988-2004), Henig Furs & Leather (2010, demolished 2012), Jared (2013-2019)
- 3470: Grady's American Grill (1999-2003), California Pizza Kitchen (-2018)
- 3650: Costco wholesale warehouse
- 3670: Home Depot (1995-2019)
- Dave & Busters (late 2018-)
- Beiman, Irving (October 1975) "Riverchase Mall work to Rouse Co., top builder" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- Williams, Roy L. (March 3, 2009) "Space & Rocket Center tops list of state attractions, tourism agency says." The Birmingham News
- Kent, Dawn (May 1, 2009) "Plans canceled for Nordstrom store at Galleria." The Birmingham News
- Kent, Dawn (August 28, 2009) "Hoover's Riverchase Galleria foresees better business on horizon." The Birmingham News
- "Riverchase Galleria" (December 21, 2009) Wikipedia - accessed January 21, 2010
- Walton, Val (September 26, 2010) "Hoover studying convention center plan for old Macy's space at Riverchase Galleria." The Birmingham News
- Azok, Dawn Kent (August 8, 2013) "New Forever 21 store to open Aug. 17 at the Riverchase Galleria." The Birmingham News
- Azok, Dawn Kent (November 4, 2013) "Cost of the Riverchase Galleria's redevelopment to top $100 million; more new stores on the way." The Birmingham News
- Steere, Tim (November 10, 2016) "Riverchase Galleria appoints new general manager." Birmingham Business Journal
- Skaggs, Heather Jones (2016) Riverchase; Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 1467117404
- Anderson, Jon (March 25, 2019) "Records indicate sales dip at Galleria campus in 2018" Hoover Sun
- Dunigan, Jonece Starr (May 5, 2020) "Riverchase Galleria, Alabama’s largest shopping mall, opens after nearly two months." The Birmingham News
- Thornton, William (July 17, 2020) "Gun-sniffing dogs, more police coming to Riverchase Galleria." The Birmingham News