SUMMIT MALL
West Market Street and Ghent Road
Summit County (Fairlawn), Ohio

The Rubber Capital's first shopping mall was the fourth developed by Youngstown's Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. The single-level, fully-enclosed complex was built on a 62 acre parcel, located 6 miles northwest of downtown Akron. At the time of its opening, the shopping center was in a section of Summit County known as Fairlawn Village. This community was incorporated as a city in 1970.

Edward DeBartolo had announced plans for SUMMIT MALL in 1963. At the time, he promoted the mall-to-be as "the finest, most unique shopping development in the nation". Ground was broken in June 1964.

The 15 million dollar facility was officially dedicated October 27, 1965, with an initial twenty-eight stores. It encompassed over 700,000 leasable square feet. Anchoring the complex were a 2-level (130,600 square foot), Akron-based O'Neil's, 2-level (125,700 square foot), Akron-based Polsky's and 2-level (111,400 square foot), Cleveland-based Halle's ["Hal-eez"].

When fully-leased, SUMMIT MALL housed seventy-six stores and services. These included Goodyear Tire & Appliance, Bond Clothes, Lerner Shops, Franklin Simon ladies' wear, Waldenbooks, Disc Records, Peoples Drug, Diamond's Men's & Boy's Store and a Stouffer's restaurant.

Junior anchors at SUMMIT MALL were an (18,100 square foot) Kroger supermarket, (16,500 square foot) Acme supermarket and 2-level (60,900 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. The RKO-Stanley-Warner Summit Mall Theatre presented its first feature October 27, 1965. The in-mall venue was twinned in the 1970s and shuttered in July 1989.

The second fully-enclosed retail hub in the region, CHAPEL HILL MALL {7.6 miles southeast, in Cuyahoga Falls}, was dedicated in 1967. The area's third enclosed center, ROLLING ACRES MALL {5.7 miles southeast, in Akron}, opened in 1975.

By the early 1980s, ROLLING ACRES had become the preeminent mall in Greater Akron, with SUMMIT seen as a smaller, out-of-date facility. A 3.1 million dollar face lift was undertaken. Mallways were carpeted, new lighting installed and the exterior remodeled. A grand re-opening commenced on October 14, 1982. As part of the festivities, a Cleveland-based Higbee's (set up in a vacant Halle's store) was inaugurated.

Ownership of SUMMIT MALL changed as a result of the 1996 merger of the DeBartolo Realty Corporation and Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group. The new entity performed a 20 million dollar renovation, which included the installation of a 9-bay Food Court. The remodeling was a success, with SUMMIT being reinstated as the mall in Greater Akron.

Over the years, anchor stores at SUMMIT MALL have been reconfigured and rebranded. The first nameplate change occurred after the closing of Polsky's, on December 23, 1978. The mall level of the store opened, as a (66,000 square foot) Jewel Mart, on September 23, 1982.

Sections of the ground floor were reconfigured as a Rizzi's Pizzeria & Ristorante, which opened in October 1990, and a Charlotte's West for Women dress shop. Jewel Mart was shuttered in March 1991. The space was configured as a 1-level Dillard's Men's store, which began business in 1994.

Dillard's had established a full-line store in the Halle's / Higbee's building in late 1992, which became a Women's Store in 1994. The Little Rock retailer began a 50 million dollar renovation of its "double-header" stores at SUMMIT MALL in 2004.

The two locations would swap places. Work on the new Dillard's North Women's Store (in the old Polsky's) was completed September 29, 2005. The new Dillard's South Men's, Children's & Home Store (in the old Halle's) was dedicated April 5, 2006.

O'Neil's was expanded,  on two occasions, into a 195,700 square foot structure. It became a Cleveland-based May Company of Ohio January 27, 1989, Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's January 31, 1993 and was "Macy-ated" September 9, 2006.

A major renovation of the mall commenced in January 2007. 9,000 square feet were added, with the south-facing facade becoming a lifestyle-like Streetscape. The south parking area was reconfigured, the Main Entrance rebuilt and tenants such as Bravo! Cucina Italiana, David's Bridal, Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor Loft opened for business. The project was completed in the summer of 2008.

Sources:

http://www.ohio.com / "Fifty Years Ago, Summit Mall Changed How We Shopped" / Mark J. Price
"At The Dawn of Summit Mall" / Fairlawn Historical Commission / Jim Kroeger
The Akron Beacon Journal
www.simon.com
http://www.cleveland.com
"Summit Mall" article on Wikipedia
Summit Mall memories of "Hst80Akron"
www.cinematreasures.org