A circa-1996 physical layout. Between 1992 and 1994, CHULA VISTA CENTER was expanded again. This time around, a combination CinemaStar multiplex and Sav-On Drug was added, along with a fourth anchor -Mervyn's- and adjacent parking garage. Sav-On Drug, a 1962 charter tenant, had relocated from a (now demolished) outparcel structure in the south parking area.

In the 21st century, the physical layout of CHULA VISTA CENTER is still the same...only some nameplates have changed. The theater became an UltraStar venue in 2004 and came under the AMC banner in 2014. CVS rebranded the Sav-On in 2007 and Mervyn's morphed into a Burlington Coat Factory in 2010.

H Street and Broadway
Chula Vista, California

Greater San Diego's fourth shopping mall was the second to be developed by Marston's / Broadway-Hale Stores. CHULA VISTA CENTER was situated on a 55 acre parcel, located 6 miles southeast of the Centre City, in the bedroom community of Chula Vista ("pretty view").

The site was four blocks east of the John J. Montgomery Freeway, which had opened to traffic in 1951. This highway was upgraded and designated a part of Interstate 5 in 1973.

Years earlier, an open-air mall had been proposed for land developed as Vista Square, a World War II-era housing project. Plans for the prospective VISTA PLAZA CENTER had been on the drawing board since September 1959. In March 1960, the Chula Vista City Council approved a plan for a 25 million dollar retail complex. CHULA VISTA CENTER had been chosen as its official name.

Demolition of the circa-1943 Vista Square housing project commenced soon after, with construction of the mall getting underway -on a 40 acre section of the parcel- in May 1961. The shopping center would encompass 425,000 leasable square feet, on a single level, with most stores having basements. The Marston's anchor store would include a fallout shelter on its lower level.

Sav-On Drug, in a south parking area outparcel structure, became the first CHULA VISTA CENTER store to open, on July 7, 1962. The mall proper, and its 4-level (200,000 square foot), San Diego-based Marston's, were officially dedicated November 21, 1962.

An S.S. Kresge 5 & 10 opened its doors February 14, 1963, followed by J.C. Penney's 2-level (80,000 square foot) location, which was dedicated November 7, 1963. Its freestanding Auto Center would begin business June 18, 1964.

Marston's was rebranded as a Los Angeles-based The Broadway in 1964. By November of year, CHULA VISTA CENTER housed twenty-six stores and services. Among these were Chula Vista Beauty Boutique, Harris & Frank men's wear, Marsi's ladies' wear, Rayas men's wear and a De Falco's Food Giant supermarket.

By 1965, the eastern 15 acre section of the mall site was being developed. A 2-level (250,000 square foot) Sears was built, which included a freestanding Auto Center. The store's grand opening was held February 21, 1966. The basic footprint of the mall was now established. It would remain in this configuration for over 20 years.

Retail rivals of CHULA VISTA CENTER included SOUTH BAY PLAZA (1954) {3.1 miles north} and PLAZA BONITA (1981) {1.8 miles northeast}, both in National City.

On July 26, 1981, the San Diego Trolley light rail system initiated revenue service on its first segment, the Centre City-to-San Ysidro South Line. Its H Street station was four blocks west of CHULA VISTA CENTER.

Chicago-based Homart Development acquired CHULA VISTA CENTER in 1986. After closing on the purchase, they embarked on a 50 million dollar renovation. The mall was expanded to the south and east and connected with the main level of the existing Sears.

The reconstruction was envisaged by Los Angeles' Jon Jerde Partnership. This architectural firm had also conceptualized renovations to Orange County, California's NEWPORT FASHION ISLAND and designed San Diego's HORTON PLAZA.

The thirty-five store addition to CHULA VISTA CENTER was predominantly on a single level, with the eastern section also having an upper level. Two large court areas were created; the first south of the existing The Broadway and the second being midway between The Broadway and Sears.

A Mission-Mediterranean motif was used for the addition, with the existing mall structures given exterior renovations to match the new construction. The revitalized shopping center was officially dedicated October 27, 1988. It now encompassed 800,000 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of seventy-two stores and services.

In the early 1990s, the center was expanded again. The first phase of the project added the CinemaStar Chula Vista 10 multiplex, built in conjunction with a (21,000 square foot) Sav-On Drug underneath. The CinemaStar showed its first features in May 1993.

The second phase of the addition involved the construction of a 2-level (82,000 square foot) Mervyn's, which opened March 10, 1994. The GLA of the mall now stood at 923,000 square feet, with one hundred and ten inline stores in its directory.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties bought the holdings of Homart Development in 1995, with CHULA VISTA CENTER being added to the GGP portfolio. On May 31, 1996, Macy's rebranded The Broadway, which had been operating as a Clearance Center for some time.

CHULA VISTA CENTER encountered a new commercial competitor in October 2006, when OTAY RANCH TOWN CENTER {6.6 miles southeast, in Chula Vista} opened. The 590,000 square foot, lifestyle-format complex was also owned by General Growth Properties.

Other significant rebrandings at CHULA VISTA CENTER were the conversion of the Chula Vista 10 multiplex to the fully digital UltraStar banner (2004), the UltraStar Play It Again banner (2011) and AMC heading (2014).

Moreover, there was the Sav-On Drug morphed into as a CVS, in 2007. Mervyn's, shuttered in February 2009, re-opened as a Burlington Coat Factory on March 5, 2010.

In January 2012, CHULA VISTA CENTER became one of the GGP holdings placed under the newly-formed Rouse Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. Rouse Properties, a spin off division devoted to Class B shopping centers, was sold in July 2016 to Toronto's Brookfield Asset Management.


http://www.sunnycv.com/steve/local/docs/doc525 (Steve Schoenherr)
The (Chula Vista and National City) Star News
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Metropolitan Transit Development Board
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)
Comment post from "Go Nordrike!"


The photographs from the Del E. Webb Corporation "Webb Spinner" / Sun City, Arizona Museum illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of  lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute them in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.