RANDALL PARK MALL
Northfield and Emery Roads
North Randall, Ohio

Hailed as the largest enclosed shopping center in the Buckeye State -let alone the planet- upon its completion, Greater Cleveland's RANDALL PARK MALL experienced a dramatic rise and fall over its 38-year existence.

In the early 1970s, things had looked really rosy. Youngstown's Edward J. DeBartolo proposed a gargantuan retail center for the small Cleveland suburb of North Randall. The super-sized center was to occupy a 117 acre plot, located 15 miles southeast of Cleveland's Public Square.

The parcel had been utilized for the Randall Park Race Track, a horse racing facility, between 1908-1935 and 1939-1968. Mr. DeBartolo had purchased the land in 1961. His "City within a City" was to be the nucleus of a grand development, which was to include three apartment buildings, two office towers and a performing arts center...none of which ever saw fruition.

What did come to pass was a 1.5 million square foot, bi-level shopping center. The 175 million dollar complex, designed by DeBartolo's brother Frank, was anchored by a 2-level (285,700 square foot) Sears, 2-level (207,000 square foot) J. C. Penney, 2-level (176,300 square foot), Cleveland-based May Company Ohio, 2-level (170,000 square foot), Cleveland-based Higbee's and 3-level (201,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company.

A potential sixth anchor, promoted by DeBartolo as a Cleveland-based Halle's ["Hal-eez"], was never built. In fact, the department store chain had only briefly entertained the notion of locating at RANDALL PARK MALL.

The mall's official grand opening, officiated by actress Dina Merrill, was held August 11, 1976. The gigantic shopping center featured two separate stores for Fanny Farmer Candies, Thom McAn Shoes, Hot Sam Pretzels and the Fun-N-Games arcade.

Among the one hundred and fifty-two charter tenants were Petrie's ladies' wear, Camelot Music, Things Remembered, World Bazaar, Toyco, Diamond's men's & boy's wear and J. Riggings. The General Cinema Corporation Randall Park Cinema I-II-III also opened for business as part of the official dedication.

The primary competitor of RANDALL PARK MALL was SOUTHGATE CENTER (1955) {.9 mile south, in Maple Heights} which lost two of its anchor stores to the newer retail complex. Eventually, the tide turned and a greatly-expanded SOUTHGATE USA put the hurt on its retail adversary. Additional competition was provided by BEACHWOOD PLACE {4.7 miles northeast, in Beachwood}, which was completed in 1978.

RANDALL PARK MALL was enormously successful during its early years. Things had started to change by the mid-1980s. The facility became notorious for car thefts, muggings and gangland violence. Shoppers began to stay away in droves.

The first anchor alterations transpired in the early 1990s. Horne's closed in July 1992, with its upper level re-opening as a Burlington Coat Factory. Higbee's was rebranded by Dillard's in August of the same year. In January 1993, The May Company store became a Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's. October 1998 brought the downsizing of J.C. Penney into an Outlet Store.

In March 1996, the DeBartolo Realty Corporation merged with the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group. Simon DeBartolo embarked on a 20 million dollar renovation of the RANDALL PARK property in the summer of 1998. This included the installation of a new Food Court and construction of the 12-screen Loews Cineplex Magic Johnson Theatres. This venue made its debut on December 9, 1999.

Regretfully, this remodeling did not cause a retail resuscitation of the struggling shopping center. By August 2002, Simon had unloaded the albatross. It fell into the hands of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Whichard Realty in 2004, who did not pursue any sort of revitalization.

Meanwhile, a new lifestyle center had been built in the vicinity. LEGACY VILLAGE {4.9 miles northeast, in Lyndhurst} was completed in 2003. The RANDALL PARK property now had two vacant anchors and well over one hundred empty store spaces. The J.C. Penney Outlet Store had went dark in January 2001. Dillard's threw in the towel in 2003.

Things got progressively worse. By mid-2008, the Magic Johnson Theatres and Macy's (a 2006 rebranding of Kaufmann's) were defunct. However, the Penney's space had been retenanted in 2007. Ohio Technical College utilized the store and freestanding Auto Center as the PowerSports Institute (a training center for motorcycle mechanics). Moreover, the multiplex re-opened as O Theatre at Randall Park.

A deal with Cincinnati-based United Church Builders to purchase the mall hit hurdles in late June, 2008. The deal would never be finalized. The inline store section closed on March 12, 2009. Sears shuttered their store June 14, leaving only Burlington Coat Factory, Furniture Mattress Liquidators, the PowerSports Institute and O Theatre in business.

Another RANDALL PARK MALL redevelopment scenario surfaced in October 2010. Proposed by Devland Holdings, a New York City-based branch of a South African concern, it was spearheaded by Neill Bernstein and Terry Brenner. They proposed a reinvention of the moribund mall as DEVLAND CITY, a center for light industry, education and research & development. Unfortunately, these plans turned out to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

The final RANDALL PARK redevelopment proposal was the brainchild of a joint venture of the Torrance, California-based Industrial Realty Group and Chris Semarjian, a Buckeye State-based investor. They acquired sections of the shuttered shopping complex between July 2013 and March 2014.

The site was be reconfigured as a large industrial park. The PowerSports Institute, Penney's Auto Center, Burlington Coat Factory and Sears structures were left standing. The remainder of the mall was razed between December 2014 and June 2015.

In mid-2017, it was announced that a 177 million dollar Amazon.com Fulfillment Center was to be built on the site, with all remaining mall structures being demolished. The 855,000 square foot facility was completed in mid-2018.

Sources:

https://case.edu/ech  (Case Western Reserve University)
"Randall Park Mall" article on Wikipedia
Cuyahoga County tax assessor website
www.greatamericaparks.com
www.labelscar.com
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
www.cleveland.com
Cleveland Business Journal
www.cinematreasures.org
Comment posts by "Go Nordrike!" and Randy Hansen
www.newsnet5.com
https://www.clevescene.com