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

The Rubber Capital's first shopping mall was the fourth to be developed by Youngstown's Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. The single-level, fully-enclosed complex was built on a 45.8 acre parcel, located 6 miles northwest of downtown Akron. At the time of its construction, the shopping center was in Fairlawn Village. This community was incorporated as a city in 1970.

Mr. 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 SUMMIT MALL encompassed 890,000 leasable square feet. It was officially dedicated October 27, 1965, with an initial twenty-eight stores. Anchoring the complex were a 2-level (125,800 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, the shopping facility housed seventy-six stores and services. These included Nobil Shoes, Volbracht Furs, Thom McAn Shoes, Goodyear Tire & Appliance, Firestone Tire & Auto, Waldenbooks, Baker's Shoes, Disc Records, Peoples Drug, Milgrim's ladies' wear, Diamond's Men's Store, a Stouffer's restaurant, Kroger supermarket and F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The 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}, began business 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By the early 1980s, ROLLING ACRES was the preeminent mall in Greater Akron, with SUMMIT seen as a smaller, out-of-date competitor. A facelift given to the SUMMIT property in 1982 did not change this perception. However, the newness of ROLLING ACRES eventually wore off. Soon, that mall was in a downward spiral.

In 1996, ownership of SUMMIT MALL changed, as a result of the 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 got underway December 23, 1978, with the shuttering of Polsky's. This bulk of this store was leased by a retailer known as Jewel Mart, who maintained a showroom on the upper level. The lower floor was shared by Jewel Mart's warehouse, Rizzi's Ristorante & Pizzeria and Charlotte's West for Women.

Jewel Mart was shuttered in March 1991. The upper level of the Polsky's structure remained vacant until Dillard's established a Men's & Home store there, in 1998.

Halle's was shuttered in 1982 and re-opened as a Cleveland-based Higbee's. Dillard's established a full-line store on both levels of the building in late 1992, which became a Women's Store in 1998. The Little Rock-based retailer embarked upon 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 store. 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 of leasable area was added and the south-facing facade given a makeover, with a "lifestyle" orientation. The south parking area was reconfigured, the Main Entrance replaced 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. With it, SUMMIT MALL encompassed 771,000 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and twenty stores and services.

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
www.simon.com
"Summit Mall" article on Wikipedia
Summit Mall memories of "Hst80Akron"
www.cinematreasures.org