Center Court Stair Mystery Solved!
If you visited the Galleria in the '90s, you'll remember that there was originally a grand, double staircase in Center Court:
The stairs were removed around 2000, but I never knew why...until now! Thank you to Brandon, who explained that they were removed as part of Old Navy's lease agreement:
I worked at Old Navy when the Taunton store opened. I was in Dartmouth but they brought a bunch of us up to get the store ready. Old Navy (at the time at least) had conditions in its leases that there be nothing in front of the store. They were a major force back then. In Dartmouth, the mall ripped out a built in seating area and in Taunton, the mall had to rip out those center stairs.
Old Navy's debut at the Galleria was one of the mall's first major remodeling projects and a major win for The Gap, which competed with Limited Brands as the largest in-line retailer at the Galleria. Limited Brands owned Lerner of New York, The Limited, Limited Too, Express, Structure (later Express Men), Bath & Body Works, and Victoria's Secret, giving the company a monopoly on nearly all storefronts facing Center Court.
When Limited Brands sold Lerner, the new owners rebranded it as New York & Company and relocated it to another storefront in the Galleria. Gap pounced on the vacancy to gain additional exposure in Center Court. After a full remodel of the space, Gap brought in its newest brand, Old Navy, which launched in 1994 and quickly became a tremendous success.