BELDEN VILLAGE MALL
Everhard Road Northwest and Whipple Avenue Northwest
Stark County (Jackson Township), Ohio

The Hall of Fame City's second fully-enclosed retail hub was developed by a joint venture of Herbert Strawbridge (CEO of the Cleveland-based Higbee's chain) and the Jacobs, Visconsi, Jacobs Company, also of Cleveland.

BELDEN VILLAGE MALL was built on a 63.9 acre parcel, located 5 miles northwest of center city Canton. The site, once part of the Belden family farm, was in an unincorporated section of Stark County known as Jackson Township and was adjacent to the Interstate 77 expressway.

The single-level complex was designed by the Dalton, Dalton & Little and Louis Resnick & Ralph Shimer firms. The facility spanned approximately 761,900 leasable square feet and housed over forty-five stores and services.

A 2-level (191,000 square foot) Higbee's was the first structure built. The freestanding store opened in August 1968. BELDEN VILLAGE MALL, added to the east side of Higbee's, was officially dedicated October 1, 1970.  A 2-level (131,000 square foot), Akron-based O'Neil's opened as part of the mall dedication. A 1-level (126,900 square foot) Sears welcomed its first shoppers on October 21, 1970.

Charter tenants included Baker's Shoes, Camelot Music, Casual Corner, Chess King, Cleveland Fabric Shop, Diamond's Men's Shop, Docktor Pet Center, Fleischer's Shoes, Foxmoor Casuals, Gray Drug, Hughes & Hatcher, Singer Sewing Center, Stern & Mann Company, Thom McAn Shoes, Vicary's for Men and Waldenbooks.

In addition, there were a (52,000 square foot), Cleveland-based) Halle's ["Hal-eez"] and in-mall Fazio's supermarket. The shopping hub also had a theatrical venue in its periphery. The Belden Village Twin, located in a small strip center southwest of the mall, was in operation between 1973 and 1997.

During its first 30 years, BELDEN VILLAGE MALL had only slight modifications. Face lift renovations were done, with a 12-bay Food Court opening (in a vacated Fazio's space) in June 1987. Sears added a partial second level in 1995, increasing the store's size to 188,100 square feet. The mall now encompassed approximately 823,000.

BELDEN VILLAGE was in direct competition with MELLETT MALL (1965) {4.1 miles south, in Canton}. Eventually, BELDEN VILLAGE prevailed. In late 1996, a more formidable rival came on the scene. THE STRIP {.8 mile northwest, in Stark County} was a power-format complex, definitely too close for comfort to BELDEN VILLAGE.

The first anchor rebranding had taken place in late 1992, when stores in the Higbee's chain were rebranded by Dillard's. O'Neil's became a Cleveland-based May Company of Ohio on January 27, 1989. On January 31, 1993, Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's took over the store. A Macy's brand made its debut on September 9, 2006.

BELDEN VILLAGE MALL had been acquired by Sydney, Australia's Westfield Holdings (now known as the Westfield Group) in December 2001. It was renamed WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN BELDEN VILLAGE, with this lengthy title shortened to WESTFIELD BELDEN VILLAGE in June 2005.

By the early 21st century, WESTFIELD BELDEN VILLAGE housed one hundred and seven inline stores. There were several outparcels, including Sears Auto Center (1970), Max & Erma's (2005) and Bravo! Cucina Italiana (2006).

An outdoor "Main Street" promenade, with 110,000 square feet of new retailers and sit-down restaurants, was proposed by Westfield in 2007. This project, which was to be added to the north-facing facade of the mall, was to include a southwest parking deck. Plans for the expansion were abandoned as a result of The Great Recession.

In fact, Westfield placed the mall, and sixteen other "B-grade" United States properties, on the selling block in April 2011. It was hoped that proceeds from these sales would fund improvements to "A-grade" Westfield malls, such as CENTURY CITY {Los Angeles, California}, VALLEY FAIR {San Jose, California} and GARDEN STATE PLAZA {Paramus, New Jersey}.

Westfield sold BELDEN VILLAGE in October 2013, with the buyer being Starwood Retail Partners, an affiliate of the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group. Soon after the transaction closed, the official name of the shopping hub reverted back to BELDEN VILLAGE MALL.

An exterior renovation, the mall's first since the late 1980s, got underway in July 2016. The Main Entrance was rebuilt and new walkways and landscaping installed. The project was completed in the fall of 2016.

In April 2017, construction commenced on a small addition. Built in a former truck court on the north-facing front of the complex, it housed an (11,000 square foot) Melt Bar & Grill. The restaurant opened for business in November 2017.

Sources:

The Akron Beacon Journal
The Canton Repository
The Dover (Ohio) Daily Reporter
Stark County, Ohio tax assessor website
www.eyecorp.com
www.westfield.com
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
https://starwoodretail.com (Starwood Retail Partners)
https://www.shoppingbeldenvillagemall.com
"Westfield Belden Village" article on Wikipedia