WESTLAND MALL
West Broad Street / US 40 and Georgesville Road
Franklin County (Franklin Township), Ohio

The third of Columbus' directionally-designated malls was added to an existing F & R Lazarus. This 1-level (80,000 square foot) store had opened, on August 16, 1962, as the Columbus-based chain's first branch.

WESTLAND MALL was developed by Cleveland's Visconsi, Mead-Jacobs Company (a precursor of today's Richard E. Jacobs Group). Dedicated February 12, 1969, the open-air shopping hub occupied a 59.9 acre plot, located 6 miles west of the Ohio State House. The site was adjacent to the future route of the "Outerbelt"/ Interstate 270 Expressway, with the section running by the mall opening in August 1970.

The single-level center was anchored by the aforementioned Lazarus. This store had been enlarged into a 2-level (171,000 square foot) structure in 1965. Also anchoring the mall were a 1-level (104,800 square foot) J.C. Penney and 2-level (176,900 square foot) Sears.

Charter inline stores included Orange Julius, The Limited and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 (with Harvest House restaurant). Courts and concourses were decorated with sculptures and fountains created by Cleveland artist Charles E. Van Duzer.

The shopping hub underwent a major renovation in 1982-'83. Its mallways were fully-enclosed. Likewise, Lazarus was enlarged to 215,000 square feet. WESTLAND MALL now encompassed 860,000 leasable square feet.

The Cinecom Theatres Westland Cinemas I & II debuted July 1, 1971. The venue was installed in a southeast parking area strip center that had opened, along with the mall, in 1969. This theater was expanded and renamed. It re-opened, as the General Cinema Corporation Westland 8, in early 1986 and was in business until late 2000. The theater operated as Dollar Cinemas Westland between 2004 and 2008.

Commercial competitors of WESTLAND MALL included COLUMBUS CITY CENTER (1989) {in downtown Columbus} and MALL AT TUTTLE CROSSING (1997) {8.4 miles north, in Columbus}.

The first manifestation of the decline of WESTLAND MALL occurred in the late 1980s, when Sears was downsized into a 1-level operation. The new MALL AT TUTTLE CROSSING snatched the Penney's store from WESTLAND in July 1997.

By the dawn of the 21st century, WESTLAND MALL was on life support. In November 2002, the past-its-prime property was sold to Sammy Kahen and Jack Kashani, two Beverly Hills-based realtors.

A plan to redevelop WESTLAND, following the tenets of New Urbanism, was announced. The mall would be demolished, leaving Sears and Lazarus intact. A city street grid was to be imposed, with open-air shopping and office spaces constructed. Unfortunately, the redevelopment stalled after the failure of a similar plan at Columbus' NORTHLAND MALL.

The owners of WESTLAND sold a fifty percent share in the center to Columbus-based Plaza Properties, in April 2005. The Beachwood, Ohio-based Krone Group was enlisted as a redevelopment and management agent. The earlier redevelopment proposal was revived and a new mall moniker, WESTON TOWN CENTER, unofficially adopted.

Lazarus was rebranded as a Lazarus-Macy's on August 1, 2003 and a Macy's on March 6, 2005. The store was shuttered in July 2007. This created a stumbling block to any progress toward the revitalization of the shopping venue.

Alas, the WESTON TOWN CENTER project never got off the ground. Wisconsin-based Menard's home improvement centers expressed interest in building a new store at the site, but eventually cancelled this plan. The shopping center's downward spiral intensified.

By May 2011, the long-delayed reinvention of WESTLAND MALL was seeming to gain impetus once more. The 400 million dollar Hollywood Casino Columbus had been built on the site of an abandoned factory, which stood across Georgesville Road from the complex. Said casino opened October 8, 2012.

It was hoped that the new casino would serve as a catalyst for the long-delayed redevelopment of the moribund mall, which was shuttered in November 2012. An exterior-entranced Sears remained in business, but closed for good in September 2017.

Sources:

"Westland Mall" article on Wikipedia
The Columbus Dispatch
www.labelscar.com
Franklin County, Ohio tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.movie-theatre.org / Mike Rivest
www.thekronegroup.com