Benjamin Paul's Commentary

User submitted March 7, 2012

The Glenfield Westfield Mall was one of the first upgrade malls in New Zealand by the large Westfield mall chain. It bought the existing small Glenfield mall in 1996 and began its $100m renovation which finished in 2000.

The renovated Glenfield Mall became a massive mall with three levels, two supermarkets and two anchor stores. It also featured a bar and restaurant on the highest level. I can remember when it opened, how amazingly large it was with such an arrangement of stores. It was frequently busy and was sometimes difficult to get around. One of the best features was my bank (ASB) being open on weekends, something that was not a normal thing in 2001. The mall also featured a Subway restaurant which has now spread to almost every retail area in the city, therefore not really a draw. It was a good mall for clothes shops for my mother too, who enjoyed looking around and usually took me, but was also a good day out type mall due to certain amenities that usually werenít in malls at the time.

The mall has three levels, the base level features convenience shops, like chemists, the bank, a barber shop, a post shop and the two supermarkets (very close to each other). The second level, shaped like a T, featured the anchor stores, Farmers at the base of the T and The Warehouse at the left side of the T. Then plenty of other general stores along the way. At the right side of the T is a large food court with a KFC, McDonalds and some other chain or independent quick mall food outlets. The third level features a restaurant/bar, Subway and video game shop.

One of the most original aspects of the mall at the time was the multi-level car park. The mall was generally surrounded by car parking and complicated ramps and plenty of vehicle access. It still is quite easy to not understand where you are parking in relation to a mall entrance and where you want to go.

The mall had its freshness survive for around 6 years, when the next round of mall construction began in Auckland. First with the temporarily largest mall in New Zealand, Sylvia Park, opening and then, the now largest, Westfield Albany opening in 2007. Therefore the ďmall to go toĒ with the anchors that people actually want to visit, is the newest, therefore Albany mall draws the punters far and wide. This has drawn the crowds mentioned earlier away from Glenfield. Peak periods like Christmas are the only times when the mall has any sort of buzz.

The shops are slowly changing, more and more cheap accessory shops are moving in, gone are higher end clothing and brand shops which are getting replaced by dollar value shops and lower end chain stores. The car parks still have the older style writing and laminate surfaces are ripping up. The mall generally has a feeling not being touched because it isnít worth such an upgrade. One of the best things about the mall when it opened was the fact that it was the first of its type, being so large, with so many stores and new type mall stores we had not experienced before. The crowds associated with this made the mall feel as if it was a good experience to take part in too. However, as the new paint smell wore out and wide-ranging crowds have dwindled the specialness of the mall has too. With the lack of hustle-bustle it is now easier to see areas as to why the mall isnít quite right. The mall feels dominated by car parking, some parks being in pokey dark areas, with a myriad of entrances that can confuse you as to where you are heading. Also, the largest level (the second level) is closed in, with a low ceiling in places, artificial light and a lack of natural features you feel enclosed in this awful retail cave of a dated mall social experiment. The lower level convenience floor is even more enclosed, with parking difficult to access for quick zip-in-zip-out action, the floor is limited by no natural light, narrow corridors and two basically identical supermarkets at either end. The upper level is perhaps the nicest part of the mall, yet only features three stores. While dominated by parking you hope to park as close as possible to where you need to go inside the mall, as the walk is such a tedious exercise.

It feels as if this mall probably wonít get an upgrade in the near future as such an expense was spent on its refurbishment twelve years ago and recent money was invested in the popular Albany Mall twenty minutes away.

Newer malls here provide strip style designs with high ceilings and single levels and modern anchor stores. The Glenfield Mall feels as if it was built last in line with the design at that period and will wallow in its claustrophobic design.

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