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 1973, things looked really rosy. Youngstown's Edward J. DeBartolo proposed a gargantuan retail center for the small Cleveland suburb of North Randall. The super center was to occupy a 117 acre plot, 15 miles southeast of Cleveland's Public Square. The parcel had been the site of the Randall Race Track (a horse racing park).

DeBartolo's "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 came to fruition. What did come to pass was a 1.5 million square foot, bi-level shopping center.

The one hundred and seventy-five 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 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 apparel, Camelot Music, Things Remembered, World Bazaar, Toyco, Diamond's men's apparel, J. Riggings and the Randall Park Mall I-II-III Cinemas.

The primary commercial 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. Moreover, BEACHWOOD PLACE {4.7 miles northeast, in Beachwood} was completed in 1978.

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

The first anchor alterations transpired in 1992. Horne's closed; its upper level re-opening as a Burlington Coat Factory. Higbee's was also rebranded by Dillard's. In 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 upon 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 a Magic Johnson 12-plex cinema.

The project, completed in the following year, 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, to add insult to injury, a new lifestyle center had been built in the vicinity of RANDALL PARK MALL. 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 inline store spaces. The J.C. Penney Outlet Store had pulled out in January 2001. Dillard's threw in the proverbial towel in 2002.

Things got progressively worse. By mid-2008, the Magic Johnson Cinema 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 Contractors / United Church Builders to purchase the mall hit hurdles in late June, 2008. The deal would never be finalized. Inline stores in operation within the mall closed in March 2009, with a formal closure conducted in May. Sears shuttered their store June 14, leaving only the exterior-entranced Burlington Coat Factory, Furniture Mattress Liquidators, PowerSports Institute and O Theatre in business. Two of these would eventually close.

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 were just talk...with no subsequent action.

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

The site would be reconfigured as a large industrial park. The PowerSports Institute, Magic Johnson multiplex, Burlington Coat Factory, May Company and Sears structures were left standing. The Higbee's and mall proper were razed. Demolition commenced in December 2014 and ran until June of the following year.

Sources:

"Randall Park Mall" article on Wikipedia
Cuyahoga County tax assessor website
www.greatamericaparks.com
www.labelscar.com
Cleveland Plain Dealer
www.cleveland.com
Cleveland Business Journal
www.cinematreasures.org
Comment posts by "Go Nordrike!" and Randy Hansen
www.newsnet5.com
"Randall Park Mall Demolition Will Start Monday, As Village Bets On Industrial Park" / Cleveland Plain Dealer / Michele Sarboe McFee / December 27, 2014