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 store had opened, on August 16, 1962, as the Columbus-based chain's first suburban 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, originally encompassing around 800,000 leasable square feet, was anchored by the aforementioned 2-level (171,000 square foot) Lazarus, a 1-level (104,800 square foot) J.C. Penney and 2-level (176,900 square foot) Sears. Inline stores included Orange Julius, The Limited and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 with Harvest House restaurant. The courts and concourses were decorated with sculptures by Cleveland artist Charles E. Van Duzer.

The mall underwent a major renovation in 1982-'83. The courts and concourses were fully-enclosed and the Lazarus remodeled and enlarged to 215,000 square feet. WESTLAND MALL now encompassed 860,000 leasable square feet. As a harbinger of doom, the mall's Sears was downsized into a 1-level operation in the late 1980s.

The Westland I & II Cinema began business in 1971. It was housed in a southeast parking area strip center that had opened, along with the mall proper, in 1969. This theater was expanded and renamed -as the Westland 8 multiplex- in early 1986, which was in business until late 2000. A third cinema operation, the Dollar Cinemas Westland, was shuttered in early in 2008.

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

With the dedication of MALL AT TUTTLE CROSSING, in July 1997, the J.C. Penney at WESTLAND moved to the newer shopping center. The vacated Penney's at WESTLAND was never permanently retenanted. Changing neighborhood demographics also contributed to a decline of WESTLAND MALL.

In November 2002, two Beverly Hills-based realtors, Sammy Kahen and Jack Kashani, bought the struggling shopping mall, which was approximately sixty percent leased. An exodus of tenants, underway for some time, gained impetus with the closing of Kay Bee Toys, Sam Goody, Payless ShoeSource and Skyline Chili, in December 2002.

A plan to redevelop WESTLAND, following the tenets of new urbanism, was announced. The mall, itself, was to be demolished, leaving the Sears and Lazarus structures 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, with the Beachwood, Ohio-based Krone Group enlisted as a redevelopment and management agent. The earlier redevelopment proposal was revived and a new mall moniker, WESTON TOWN CENTER, unofficially adopted.

Lazarus -rebranded as a Lazarus-Macy's on August 1, 2003 and Macy's on March 6, 2005- 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 mall, but eventually cancelled this plan. The shopping center's downward spiral continued.

By May 2011, the long-delayed reinvention of WESTLAND MALL was seeming to gain impetus once more. A 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, bringing an economic resurgence to the area.

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. Only an exterior-entranced Sears remains in business as WESTLAND MALL awaits its destiny date with a wrecking ball.  

Sources:

"Westland Mall" article on Wikipedia
www.labelscar.com
Franklin County, Ohio tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
www.thekronegroup.com