GREAT NORTHERN MALL
Brookpark Road and Great Northern Boulevard
North Olmsted, Ohio

By the mid-1970s, seven mall-type shopping hubs had been built in Greater Cleveland. The eighth would be developed on a 62 acre site, located 15 miles southwest of Public Square, in the suburb of North Olmstead.

This complex was an addition to a freestanding, 3-level (181,000 square foot), Cleveland-based May Company Ohio. "May's Great Northern" had opened -on September 5, 1965- as an eastern outparcel of GREAT NORTHERN CENTER, an open-air strip plaza dedicated in October 1958.

A fully-enclosed, single-level mall was built on the east side of May Company. GREAT NORTHERN MALL was developed by Cleveland's Saul Biskind, designed by Cleveland-based Keeva J. Kekst Architects, and was dedicated on November 3, 1976.

In addition to May Company, the anchors of the new retail hub were a 2-level (179,600 square foot) Sears and 2-level (165,400 square foot) J. C. Penney. Sears, which relocated from a smaller store in the adjacent strip plaza, welcomed its first shoppers on August 5, 1976. J.C. Penney, also relocated from the strip plaza, was dedicated on November 3rd of the same year.

Charter GREAT NORTHERN MALL tenants included Kay-Bee Toys, Small Stuff, Gordon's Jewelers, Waldenbooks, Winkelman's ladies' wear and the Great American Game Room.

Competing shopping facilities in the vicinity of GREAT NORTHERN included WESTGATE CENTER (1954) {4.5 miles northeast, in Fairview Park / Rocky River} and MIDWAY MALL (1964) {10.4 miles west, in Elyria}.

The first expansion of GREAT NORTHERN MALL entailed the addition of the fifteen store South Court, which was completed in 1987. The existing May Company store was also expanded to 228,500 square feet.

The next renovation was dedicated October 20, 1992. This included the 2-level, 17-bay Food Commons, which was installed in an expanded Southeast Wing. In August of the following year, May Company was rebranded as a Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's.

Australia's Westfield acquired the mall in early 2002 and renamed it WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN GREAT NORTHERN. "Shoppingtown" was dropped from the official name in June 2005, with the complex known, henceforth, as WESTFIELD GREAT NORTHERN.

The third addition of shopping space came early in the 21st century. An extended South Court was built, with ten inline stores and a 2-level (220,000 square foot) Dillard's. This store was dedicated March 19, 2003. It was followed by a 2-level (84,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Dick's Sporting Good, added to the north-facing front of the mall, which opened in 2004.

With this addition, WESTFIELD GREAT NORTHERN housed 1,235,200 leasable square feet and contained one hundred and forty-three stores and services. Outparcel business included US Bank, a Harry Buffalo restaurant, Red Lobster restaurant, Smokey Bones BBQ Grill and 1-level (14,500 square foot) J.C. Penney Furniture.

In May 2011, Westfield initiated an 8 million dollar mall face lift. A 12-bay Dining Court was installed in gutted and rebuilt space adjoining the Dick's store. Eateries included Thai Kitchen, Subway, Chicken Wow, Charley's Grilled Subs, Sarku Japan and Chop It Salad Company. Children's play areas were also installed in the Macy's and Dillard's courts. This renovation was dedicated November 3, 2011.

In October 2012, another remodeling project got underway in the old Food Court area. It was rebuilt into the state-of-the-art Regal Great Northern Mall Stadium 10, whose first features were shown December 12, 2013. Two sit-down restaurants, The Rail and Mama Fu's Asian House, were also installed in the space and a mall entry and corridor was built west of the existing Sears.

Westfield had sold GREAT NORTHERN in 2013, as part of a 7-mall transaction with Starwood Retail Partners, an affiliate of the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group.

The other properties involved were WESTFIELD BELDEN VILLAGE and WESTFIELD FRANKLIN PARK {in Ohio}, WESTFIELD CAPITAL {in Washington State}, WESTFIELD PARKWAY and WESTFIELD WEST COVINA {in California} and WESTFIELD SOUTHLAKE {in Indiana}. After the transaction closed, the name of the Greater Cleveland retail hub reverted to GREAT NORTHERN MALL.  

Sources:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Westfield Great Northern" article on Wikipedia
www.westfield.com/great northern
Cuyahoga County, Ohio property tax assessor website


FAIR USE OF MAY COMPANY NORTH OLMSTEAD IMAGE:

The photo from The Cleveland Memory Project illustrates a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The image is not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the image does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute it in any way. The image is being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and its use is not believed to detract from the original image in any way.