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               WESTGATE MALL: FAIRVIEW PARK (CLEVELAND), OH

Brian Robinson's Commentary:

Posted June 21, 2005 (user submitted)

Westgate Mall located in Fairview Park, Ohio, about 15 minutes west of Cleveland was built about 50 years ago. The mall was orginally anchored with a Halle's Department store on the north end, having 3 floors, and a Higbee's Department store at the south end, which had 2 floors. Halle's was closed back in the early 80's after the local department store chain went out of business. Halle's was replaced by Horne's, another department store in 1986. Higbee's was later bought out and replaced with Dillard's in the mid to late 80's. Later on, around 1990, Horne's had also went out of business, that's when Dillard's moved into the old Horne's store. Westgate was now anchored by Dillards south, which was mens clothing, housewares, and childrens clothing on 2 floors, and Dillard's north which housed womens clothing and cosmetics on 3 floors. Dillards also had a home store located in a outlot on the mall property selling furniture.

Back in the late 90's, Dillards closed the south store and moved all merchandise and employees to the north store, the larger of the two stores. The south store has remained emptied since that time. Around that time the Dillard's home store was also closed.

The mall has seen many other changes. In 1972 the mall received a movie theatre complex inside the mall, which was orginally home to a Kroger supermarket. The movie theatre had four screens and was managed by General Cinema Corp. The theatres were closed in 1986, rebuilt and moved into an area in the parking lot, which is where they are presently located, however now operated by AMC after General Cinema Corp. was bought out by AMC. The new cinema contained six screens, and the old cinemas were replaced with the present day food court. Also in the late 90's, another anchor, Kohl's department store built a 2 floor store at the East end of the mall connected to the food court. This past March, Dillards announced it would close the last of the Dillard's stores, the one located on the north end, leaving Kohl's to be the last major store anchoring Westgate.

Dillards, in 2003, built a brand new, three floor store at Great Northern mall, less than ten minutes from the Westgate mall store. When that store was built it was known then by many that the end was near for Westgate. Stores began to move out quickly as passenger traffic continued to decline. The choices and selections were much greater at Great Northern mall. Great Northern received a major expansion and remodeling adding two anchors, Dillards and Dick's Sporting Goods. Westgate was unable to compete with Great Northern.

Within the last month, plans were released for the future of Westagte Mall. Both Dillard's stores are going to be demolished this summer (the south store demolition has already begun) and the rest of the mall soon to follow. The only portions of the mall that will remain standing are the Kohl's store, the AMC cinemas, and a Longhorn Steakhouse that stands in a outlot that borders the mall property. Those three stores will become part of a new retail center planned for the property. A Dillard's Home Store that sold furniture that was located in a outlot of the mall will also be demolished. That store closed several years ago. The mall, which has seen many tenants leave in the past few years, is now quickly emptying as plans have been made to demolish the mall. Only a handful of stores remain today, many of which are selling merchandise at discounts to clear shelves.

The property will then be redevloped as a open-air center with pedestrian-friendly streets and plazas. Plans call for Kohl's to anchor the 55-acre property as well as 50 to 60 specialty shops and resturants, which will still be called Westgate, simply dropping mall from the name. The new property is expected to have approximately 600,000 sqaure feet of retail shops and resturants. No announcements have been made yet as to what will be moving into the retails spaces.

No plans have made as to when the rest of the mall with be torn down after the two Dillard's stores are this summer, however the new redeveloped property is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2007.

Links:

www.mywestgatemall.com current mall site
www.placesintown.com/malls/westgate_mall.htm Unofficial Westgate Mall site
Local Article about Westgate Mall from West Life News

Photos:

(courtesy of The Cleveland Memory Project website @ www.clevelandmemory.org.)


Higbee's - Westgate 1966


Higbee's - Westgate 1961 (Dillard's occupied this space after buying Higbees in late 80s. Store is @ south end of the mall, has been vacant since late 90s & currently being demolished)


Halle's Westgate - 1957 (Later Hornes, then Dillards north. Dillards just closed this location March 2005. Store currently being demolished)

More photos are available from http://groups.msn.com/RiseandFallofWestgateMall.
Link used with permission from Brian Robinson.










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