WESTGATE SHOPPERS' PARK
Route 24 and Reynolds Memorial Highway
Brockton, Massachusetts

Massachusetts' first fully-enclosed shopping mall was developed by the Campanelli Brothers of Boston, who ran New England's largest residential development company. The retail facility was built on a 48.3 acre tract, located 20 miles south of the Massachusetts State House, in suburban Brockton.

Originally known as WESTGATE SHOPPERS' PARK, the 356,000 square foot center opened its first stores on February 24, 1963. A 1-level (73,000 square foot), Boston-based Gilchrist's followed, on October 23, 1963. It was the largest of eight branch stores.

New London, Connecticut-based Bradlees opened a 1-level (112,000 square foot) discount mart at WESTGATE SHOPPERS PARK on November 7, 1963. It was this chain's fifteenth location. Other charter tenants were Cherry & Webb ladies' wear and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The outparcel WESTGATE ANNEX and WESTGATE PLAZA, situated in the northeast and southwest parking areas, housed additional store spaces. The mall site would eventually include the freestanding Chapel At The Mall, which was attended by the Franciscan Friars of Atonement.

Shopping hubs in the vicinity of WESTGATE included SOUTH SHORE PLAZA (1961) {8.6 miles north, in Braintree}, DEDHAM MALL (1965) {12.2 miles northwest, in Dedham} and HANOVER MALL (1971) {11.1 miles northeast, in Hanover}.

The General Cinema Corporation Cinema I & II Westgate Mall, showed its first features April 17, 1965. The theater was built, as a freestanding structure, on the western periphery of the shopping center. It re-opened, as a 4-screen venue, Oct 7, 1970. In 1976, a fifth screen was created. By the late 1980s, Westgate Cinema Centre was operating with 8 screens. The theater closed in October 2004 and was demolished in the summer of 2005.

Meanwhile, in mid-1977, the Gilchrist's store was shuttered. It re-opened as a Boston based Jordan Marsh. A Northeast Wing was added to the mall in 1984-1985, which included Marshalls, Child World and twenty additional store spaces.

WESTGATE MALL prospered until 1992, when the superregional SILVER CITY GALLERIA {15.6 miles south, in East Taunton} was dedicated. SOUTH SHORE PLAZA {in Braintree} also completed a renovation, which doubled its size.

As a result, WESTGATE began losing tenants. Jordan Marsh closed and re-opened, as a Macy's, in March 1996. Child World and Woolworth were shuttered in 1992 and 1997 respectively. By 1998, WESTGATE was in a pronounced state of decline. Newton-based New England Development bought the mall in 1999. They embarked on a major renovation, repositioning the complex as a value-oriented venue.

Marshalls expanded into a new (28,000 square foot) store. The original location, and a vacant Child World, were razed. These were replaced by a 2-level (126,000 square foot) Sears. A newly-expanded and renovated shopping center, now encompassing 552,900 square feet, was re-dedicated November 26, 2000.

Bradlees had closed in 2001. The building was razed and replaced by a 1-level (140,000 square foot) Filene's, which welcomed its first shoppers on March 26, 2003. Other new mall tenants included Best Buy, Old Navy and Dick's Sporting Goods (a freestanding store built on the site of the old cinema).

As a result of the Federated / May merger of 2005, Filene's was converted into a Macy's on September 9, 2006. The mall's original Macy's (in the old Gilchrist's / Jordan Marsh) had been vacated. The building was eventually bulldozed.

Work was to begin on The Village, a lifestyle-format addition, in the spring of 2008. This was to be constructed on the old Gilchrist's / Jordan Marsh spot and be anchored by a Showcase megaplex cinema. However, the expansion, scheduled for a fall 2010 completion, was never built.

The mall's proprietor, Australia-based Babcock & Brown, declared bankruptcy. WESTGATE MALL was foreclosed on in October 2009, with an auction attempted in December. This was unsuccessful and the shopping center remained for sale.

Newton, Massachusetts-based New England Development repurchased the property in June 2010. They started construction on the abandoned south addition in April 2011. The original plan had been drastically changed. Instead of a cinema, the expansion would be anchored by a freestanding (80,000 square foot) Tewkesbury, Massachusetts-based Market Basket discount supermarket.

The grocery, and three inline stores, opened for business May 22, 2012. With their completion, WESTGATE MALL encompassed 571,900 leasable square feet and housed sixty-nine stores and services. One of these (Macy's) would be shuttered in March 2017.

Sources:

"Westgate Mall" article on Wikipedia
Plymouth County, Massachusetts Tax Assessor website
www.labelscar.com / "Caldor", "The Questioner" and "Mike"
www.atonementfriars.org
www.shopatwestgate.com
www.enterprisenews.com
http://movie-theatre.org / Mike Rivest