The Orchards Mall is an enclosed shopping mall near Benton Harbor, Michigan. Opened in 1979, the mall has three vacant anchor stores that were once a Carson's, a Sears, and a JCPenney. The mall also has a Slackers Family Fun Center, a Doctor ZZZZ'Z Mattress Center and Jo-Ann Fabrics as junior anchors.
The future of the Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor looks dramatically different than its past.
Meyer C. Weiner Company first proposed a mall called Pipestone Mall in Benton Harbor in 1974. By March 1976, Hudson's had been rumored as a potential anchor store. Westcor acquired the land in August of the same year. The mall was part of a development along Pipestone Road near Interstate 94 which also comprised a strip mall anchored by a Kmart. By 1977, Sears and J. C. Penney had been confirmed as anchors, with negotiations underway for Carson Pirie Scott as the third anchor.
Orchards Mall was built in 1979 by Westcor. Opening for business in 1979, it featured J. C. Penney and Sears. Major tenants included Walgreens and York Steak House. Elder-Beerman was added in 1992 as the mall's third anchor store. Walgreens moved out of the Orchards in the mid-1990s, with its store spacce remaining vacant until Jo-Ann Fabrics replaced it in the late 2000s.
General Growth Properties became the mall's management in 1999. A year later, several new stores were added, including Bath & Body Works, while the Casual Corner and Finish Line, Inc. stores were remodeled. Benton Township approved a $111,000 tax cut to help attract new businesses. General Growth sold the Orchards to Sequoia Investments in 2002, at which point four more businesses opened, including a Subway and a Chinese eatery in the food court. KB Toys, an original tenant, closed in 2004. Ponderosa, which closed in 1997, became an Italian eatery in 2007. The same year, the Subway became a local restaurant.
Sears closed its store at the Orchards in 2009. Overflow Church purchased the building in 2012 and intended to move into it. Elder-Beerman was converted to a Carson's in 2011. Sears returned to the mall in 2012 with its Sears Hometown format, a smaller-scale Sears store which sells major appliances and household hardware, in a spot vacated by an FYE music store. At the same time, the former Sears Auto Center on a mall outparcel was reopened as a local auto repair shop.
In 2014 the Orchards was put up for sale; Kohan Retail Investment Group purchased it on December 9.
Sears Hometown closed in July 2017. On January 31, 2018, The Bon-Ton announced that Carson's would be part of a plan to close 42 stores nationwide. The store was closed in April 2018. In June 2018, the water supply to the Orchards was cut off. The owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group had outstanding water bills. The mall was closed for a day, although JCPenney remained open. The Orchards reopened the following day. It was sold to Durga LLC, on November 30, 2018 and management was taken over by Bedi & Associates LLC in June 2020.
On March 4, 2019, it was announced that JCPenney would also be closing as part of its planned closure of 27 stores nationwide. The JCPenney closed on July 5, 2019. In this same period, Rainbow Shops, one of the last three national tenants in the Orchards closed too. Bath & Body Works would be the second to last national retailer in the mall. However, they had plans to relocate to the Fairplain Plaza, a shopping center that included a Jimmy Jazz shoe and clothing store and a GNC supplement retailer. These two retailers had been tenants in the Orchards Mall prior to 2018. The plan for Bath & Body Works was to relocate in May 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store did not relocate and reopen in the new location until August of that year.
In January 2021, access to the hallway leading to what had been JCPenney, Bath & Body Works, Jimmy Jazz, Claires, Finish Line, Inc., Rainbow Shops, and Zales, was blocked. Since that time, the blocked accessway has accumulated leaves and other detritus; some gates fronting the vacant stores stand open.[original research?] Jo-ann Fabrics, a store that had opened in the Orchards in the 2000s, later closing its mall entrance in 2012-2013, will be relocating to the street across from Fairplain Plaza. This was the last national retail store to operate at the Orchards. Jo-ann's is scheduled to open in the spring,[year needed] and an Ollie's Bargain Outlet will open alongside it.