America's first mall is about to be redeveloped into offices, homes, and an NHL training center. We went inside and found it eerily empty.

Northgate MallIrene Jiang / Business Insider

Opened in 1950, Northgate Mall in Seattle was the first shopping center in America to be called a mall.

But now, after years of struggling to reinvent the mall, developers have decided to transform the property and the land surrounding it into a mixed-use commercial and residential complex and NHL training center. The project is expected to be complete in 2021.

Nordstrom is the latest of a slew of major retailers including JCPenney and Macy's that have decided to close their Northgate locations. Merchandise and employees from the Northgate store will be redistributed to other Nordstrom stores in the area. The Nordstrom Rack, however, will remain open.

Read more: These haunting photos reveal the retail apocalypse ripping through America

However, it isn't only department stores like Nordstrom and Macy's that are rushing to abandon Northgate Mall before it closes. Smaller retailers and longtime food court locations are also jumping ship, with some local reports saying they were forced out by developers.

Not even phone-charging stations and a Pokemon Go play center were able to save America's first mall from the retail apocalypse.

We toured the mall to see what it was like, and we were unnerved by how eerily abandoned it was:

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There was a strange, sewage-like smell in the eerily empty courtyard leading to the mall's entrance.

There was a strange, sewage-like smell in the eerily empty courtyard leading to the mall's entrance.

Its halls were built to handle a much larger volume of foot traffic than it receives these days.

Its halls were built to handle a much larger volume of foot traffic than it receives these days.

Read more: 'Stranger Things'' new season features a slew of iconic stores that no longer exist

Vacant storefronts were absolutely everywhere.

Vacant storefronts were absolutely everywhere.

We saw a sign being stripped down from a shuttered, empty store.

We saw a sign being stripped down from a shuttered, empty store.

Old Navy was still around, although it was running closing clearance specials.

Old Navy was still around, although it was running closing clearance specials.

Its estranged twin, Gap, fared no better.

Its estranged twin, Gap, fared no better.

Its windows and walls were littered with red sale signs.

Its windows and walls were littered with red sale signs.

The store appeared to simply be clearing out as much merchandise as possible.

The store appeared to simply be clearing out as much merchandise as possible.

That meant not just clothes ...

That meant not just clothes ...

... but everything in the store, including fixtures and mannequins.

... but everything in the store, including fixtures and mannequins.

Signs on shuttered stores promised "More Style Coming Soon." However, the mall's redevelopment won't be completed until 2021, and then, it will no longer be a traditional mall.

Signs on shuttered stores promised "More Style Coming Soon." However, the mall's redevelopment won't be completed until 2021, and then, it will no longer be a traditional mall.

The mall is not going without a fight. Recently added charging stations invite shoppers to stay longer.

The mall is not going without a fight. Recently added charging stations invite shoppers to stay longer.

There was even a futuristic Pokemon Center.

There was even a futuristic Pokemon Center.

However, these well-intentioned methods of modernization have apparently done little to draw shoppers to the mall's stores.

However, these well-intentioned methods of modernization have apparently done little to draw shoppers to the mall's stores.

Torrid was barely keeping its lights on.

Torrid was barely keeping its lights on.

And iconic soft pretzel vendor Wetzel's Pretzels didn't have any takers.

And iconic soft pretzel vendor Wetzel's Pretzels didn't have any takers.

But, neither did Auntie Anne's.

But, neither did Auntie Anne's.

Loft looked like a mausoleum.

Loft looked like a mausoleum.

And fast-fashion favorite Forever 21 remained devoid of fans despite a flurry of pink signs heralding massive markdowns.

And fast-fashion favorite Forever 21 remained devoid of fans despite a flurry of pink signs heralding massive markdowns.

Macy's has been the anchor store at Northgate since 1950, when it was still the Bon Marché.

Macy's has been the anchor store at Northgate since 1950, when it was still the Bon Marché.

Source: Seattle Pi

Now, Macy's plans to close its Northgate store this month, as soon as its lease expires.

Now, Macy's plans to close its Northgate store this month, as soon as its lease expires.

Source: The Seattle Times

The store was in the process of purging all its contents.

The store was in the process of purging all its contents.

The jewelry section was a a ghost town.

The jewelry section was a a ghost town.

Signs everywhere advertised that the entire store was on sale, and staff members were nowhere to be seen.

Signs everywhere advertised that the entire store was on sale, and staff members were nowhere to be seen.

The shoe section's racks had been cleared, and the remaining shoes were organized by size on display tables.

The shoe section's racks had been cleared, and the remaining shoes were organized by size on display tables.

What was left of Macy's Home was on steep, steep discount.

What was left of Macy's Home was on steep, steep discount.

But there wasn't much left.

But there wasn't much left.

Deeper into the store, the scenery was even more desolate.

Deeper into the store, the scenery was even more desolate.

Entire sections had been cleared out, and nothing remained except for the signs advertising the closing sales.

Entire sections had been cleared out, and nothing remained except for the signs advertising the closing sales.

Read more: A filmmaker who's traveled to more than 70 dead malls across America reveals the craziest things he's seen, from an eerily foggy food court to a rainstorm indoors

Walking through this Macy's felt like watching the final scene of "Friends," when the apartment we'd become so attached to over the years is emptied out, signaling the end of an era.

Walking through this Macy's felt like watching the final scene of "Friends," when the apartment we'd become so attached to over the years is emptied out, signaling the end of an era.

Across the way, Nordstrom was much more full of life. Nordstrom will transfer employees and merchandise to other area stores after this one closes.

Across the way, Nordstrom was much more full of life. Nordstrom will transfer employees and merchandise to other area stores after this one closes.

Business was largely as usual as the store commenced its bi-yearly anniversary sale.

Business was largely as usual as the store commenced its bi-yearly anniversary sale.

There was yellow tape signaling great deals — for Nordstrom club members only, of course.

There was yellow tape signaling great deals — for Nordstrom club members only, of course.

The store's colorful displays were in full bloom.

The store's colorful displays were in full bloom.

And even though Topshop has officially left the US, it lives on forever (or at least for now) in the Nordstroms of our malls.

And even though Topshop has officially left the US, it lives on forever (or at least for now) in the Nordstroms of our malls.

Even though Nordstrom plans to close the store in August, the cosmetics department will still go through with its bi-yearly beauty festival.

Even though Nordstrom plans to close the store in August, the cosmetics department will still go through with its bi-yearly beauty festival.

However, Nordstrom was definitely an exception.

However, Nordstrom was definitely an exception.

Spencer's, once a temple for the edgy teen, has also jumped on the bandwagon of Northgate store closures.

Spencer's, once a temple for the edgy teen, has also jumped on the bandwagon of Northgate store closures.

A tip of the hat to whoever can guess what store this used to be.

A tip of the hat to whoever can guess what store this used to be.

Read more: More than 7,500 stores are closing in 2019 as the retail apocalypse drags on — here's the full list

Tween girl accessory hawker Claire's was still blindingly colorful and unnervingly peppy, much like the buy-three-get-three jewelry inside.

Tween girl accessory hawker Claire's was still blindingly colorful and unnervingly peppy, much like the buy-three-get-three jewelry inside.

It looked like the photo booth hadn't seen any love since the '80s.

It looked like the photo booth hadn't seen any love since the '80s.

A Sarku's employee waited for stray passersby, holding a plastic tray of teriyaki chicken samples getting colder by the minute.

A Sarku's employee waited for stray passersby, holding a plastic tray of teriyaki chicken samples getting colder by the minute.

Although mostly empty, the food court was the most populated section of the mall.

Although mostly empty, the food court was the most populated section of the mall.

There was a lot of competition for very few customers, but this was a Battle Royale with no winners.

There was a lot of competition for very few customers, but this was a Battle Royale with no winners.

Northgate Mall has served the middle class of north Seattle for over half a century. Soon, its doors will be closing forever.

Northgate Mall has served the middle class of north Seattle for over half a century. Soon, its doors will be closing forever.

Over the years, the mall has had to reinvent itself time and again to keep up with changing consumer trends and demographics. Will its new life as a mixed-use complex restore its profitability, or is it too late for the first mall in America?

Over the years, the mall has had to reinvent itself time and again to keep up with changing consumer trends and demographics. Will its new life as a mixed-use complex restore its profitability, or is it too late for the first mall in America?
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