Aberdeen Mall Owners Fixing Rocky Parking Lot; How About Drainage and Shade?

RockStep Capital, the new Houston-based corporate owner of the Lakewood (soon to be rechristened Aberdeen) Mall, is repaving the mall’s crumbling parking lot. Evidently they don’t like the parking lot living up to the corporate name.

North parking lot, Aberdeen Mall, 2015.05.25
North parking lot, Aberdeen Mall, 2015.05.25
Rocks and puddles, Aberdeen Mall parking lot, 2015.05.25
Rocks and puddles, Aberdeen Mall parking lot, 2015.05.25

The mall shares the same problem as the rest of Aberdeen: it’s so darn flat that water doesn’t go anywhere fast. Precip has more time to sit, freeze, thaw, and bust up pavement. Mall management needs to re-engineer the lot to improve drainage.

The mall also appears to have overbuilt its parking capacity. Check out RockStep Capital’s own overhead shot of the complex:

Aberdeen Mall, aerial view (north is up)
Aberdeen Mall, aerial view (north is up)

The picture isn’t date-stamped, but the shadows indicate the photo was taken mid-afternoon. The lot is more than half empty. The cost of maintaining all that unused pavement evidently put the previous owners on a maintenance schedule that couldn’t keep up with the deteriorating conditions, making a trip to the mall feel more like a drive through Mogadishu (again, not unlike driving elsewhere in Aberdeen).

But hey, in that aerial view, did you notice that little triangle in the northwest corner?

Retention pond, Sanford hospital parking lot, Aberdeen, SD, 2015.05.25
Retention pond, Sanford hospital parking lot, Aberdeen, SD, 2015.05.25

That’s the retention pond at the southeast corner of Aberdeen’s Sanford complex. Sanford didn’t pave corner to corner; they kept a depression into which their parking lot water could flow, then planted grass and trees around it to absorb the water and improve the aesthetics.

RockStep could save money on parking lot maintenance and make the mall more inviting by replacing half of their parking lot with green space—big patches of grass and trees around retention ponds—and re-engineering lot drainage from the remaining parking areas. Moving that water means fewer potholes. Shady green areas can make parking lots 31 degrees cooler. People, just like critters and crops, appreciate shelterbelts for wind protection, and right now, if you go see a movie at the Aberdeen Mall in winter, there’s nothing between you and the bitter northwest wind.

Of course, if RockStep revamps its parking lot to be all dry and smooth, moviegoers might get spoiled, and they might expect the city to maintain a road of similar quality to the movie theater and the hospital:

3rd Avenue NE, west of the Aberdeen Mall and Sanford Hospital, 2015.05.25
3rd Avenue NE, west of the Aberdeen Mall and Sanford Hospital, 2015.05.25

Third Avenue Northeast is the main street to the mall’s north/movie theater entrance and to Sanford Hospital. As my bicycling bottom can testify, Third Avenue Northeast is in just slightly better condition than the mall parking lot.


4 Responses to Aberdeen Mall Owners Fixing Rocky Parking Lot; How About Drainage and Shade?

  1. Deb Geelsdottir

    The Google satellite view shows green on the north side of the mall. Controlling runoff is a major part of care for resources.
    The view also shows all that empty parking lot. I wonder how busy it gets in December? Crowning the parking lot at the mall and building grassy drainage ditches along the outside, unused portion of the lot could remedy the problem. I see that in most new builds. Control of runoff from parking lots might be statutory here, but I’m not sure.

  2. Repaving the entire lot to the same extent is only perpetuating the delusion that the mall is going back to its glory days when Walmart and JCPennys were raking it in. Back then most of the parking lot was needed. The usage of the mall has dramatically declined since then. Most of the existing lot should be changed to some sort of green space or park with runoff control in mind. The pavement on the north side of the mall is almost unnavigable in some places.

  3. Deb, there’s a For Sale sign on that green north of the mall parking lot. Plunking another store on that grass would put the parking lot to use and maybe bring another business to help pay for maintenance, but it wouldn’t solve the drainage issue.

    Spencer, when did Walmart leave that building on the west side? Was the parking lot the same zoo then that’s outside of the new Walmart now?

  4. I think Walmart has been out of the building for about 10 years. That parking lot had to accommodate much of all the traffic that is now seen in the new supercenter parking lot and more since they had a lot for stores back then and few strip malls to compete with. The pavement was better then, but the traffic situation was bad at times.