Businessman Buys Mall for $17.3 Million, Displays Giant Monument of the Ten Commandments

By: Carissa | Last updated: Oct 21, 2023

A millionaire businessman bought the Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville, Texas, at auction for a whopping $17.3 million.

John Bushman, the entrepreneur from Odessa who acquired the property, has big plans for the mall. His first order of business was placing an eight-foot-tall tablet that features the Ten Commandments etched in stone at the center of the property. His decision was certainly unconventional, and some even found it controversial.

A Lengthy History of Malls in America

Malls are best known for being sprawling shopping centers that have a variety of stores all under one roof.


Source: Reddit

Though the earliest malls date back to the 1950s, malls reached peak popularity in the late 1980s throughout the 1990s. These days, malls are rapidly going out of business due to a number of factors including changing customer preferences, high operating costs, and of course, the rise of online shopping.


New Owner Takes Control of the Vista Ridge Mall

Bushman, already an esteemed business owner, jumped at the opportunity to purchase the Vista Ridge Mall when it appeared at auction in 2017.


Source: Reddit

His collection of successful businesses includes hotels in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, various shopping centers, and a Chickn4U restaurant. With a winning bid of $17.3 million, Bushman was able to secure ownership of the Vista Ridge Mall.

Intent on Changing People’s Perspective of Malls

The mall can be associated with many past times—shopping at stores, eating at the Food Court, spending hours at the arcade or even watching a movie at the built-in theater. Malls were always a mecca of entertainment and a social hangout spot.


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But one thing you probably don’t associate malls with is religion. However, Bushman was eager to change the way people view malls, and he knew just where to start.

Changing the Mall’s Name and Adding a Religious Monument

Upon purchasing the Vista Ridge Mall, Bushman renamed it “Music City Mall.”


Source: Wikimedia Commons

He then planned to spend between $3 and $4 million on renovations to make the mall more current. His goal was to turn the mall into a “community space” for consumers – and he was certain that placing a monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments would give the mall more of a wholesome, “community” feel.

The Massive Monument Is Put on Display

The 800-pound stone tablet featuring the Ten Commandments sits at the center of the mall on the upper level.

Source: Reddit

Though it seems like an unlikely choice for decor, religious adornments are the norm at Bushman’s other businesses. Many of his other establishments feature religious signage, so it made sense for him to add the Ten Commandments to his newly acquired mall.


Religion Aligns With Bushman’s Business Values

While religion is a taboo topic for many people, Bushman insists he wasn’t trying to stir up a debate by installing the Ten Commandments monument inside the mall.

Source: Reddit

He has a positive outlook on the stone structure, saying, “We just believe in the Lord’s love. That’s the sole reason. We hope when someone sees it, it will touch their heart and give them new hope that day.”


The Monument Becomes a Hot Topic

The monument is something that can’t go unnoticed. Standing at eight feet tall and five feet wide, the Ten Commandments tribute has a big presence. But not everybody was as enthusiastic about the structure as Bushman was.

Source: @modmom.tvtime/Instagram

The Ten Commandments monument was met with mixed reviews. One online commenter poked fun at putting religion at the forefront of people’s shopping experience. “They should put up a ‘phee phi pho phum’ plaque as well. Or any other piece from another fictional made up story,” they quipped.


Not Everyone Loves the Religous Structure

Others seemed outraged over the Ten Commandments structure, with one commenter questioning the monument’s purpose, saying, “That’s not spreading hope and love, they could go out to the homeless and do that.”

Source: @theillumegnati/TikTok

The same commenter even likened the prospect of the country becoming overtly religious to “going back in time as opposed to evolving.” Bushman assumed the sign would be welcome in a state like Texas where religion is often made a priority.


Some Mall Goers Enjoy the Religious Structure

But some of the mall’s patrons really appreciated the Ten Commandments monument. Carol Lynch, a shopper from Lewisville, was very much in favor of the structure, saying, “For myself, I’m a Christian, I think it’s very good.”

Source: @modmom.tvtime/Instagram

She added that the addition of the Ten Commandments tribute actually inspired her to shop at the mall more, saying, “I’m very impressed. Will continue shopping here, just because of that.”


The Pandemic Changes the Fate of the Mall

The new Music City Mall was about more than just a religious motif. With music being Bushman’s main focus for the mall, he strived to support the local arts and music scene.

Source: Wikipedia

The mall frequently hosted live performances, especially as a way to support musicians when the world was largely shut down in 2020. Despite Bushman’s best efforts, several stores were forced to close and the mall was no longer profitable due to the pandemic.


The Tide Turns for the Mall

In September 2022, Bushman’s ICA Properties sold the mall to 1000 South Vermont LLC.

Source: the.ginger.stylist2/TikTok

The shift in ownership meant the infamous Ten Commandments stone structure was removed from Music City Mall, signifying the end of an era. The mall was eventually renamed “The Vista,” and in March 2023 the city proposed plans to redevelop the property. Per the city’s plans, most of the existing mall would be demolished.