GRAND CENTRAL MALL
Grand Central Boulevard and 13th Avenue
Vienna, West Virginia

West Virginia's second shopping mall was built in the state's northwest sector. GRAND CENTRAL MALL occupied a 98 acre tract, located 2.4 miles north of downtown Parkersburg. Before the mall's construction, the Stewart Air Park (a municipal airfield) occupied the site.

The single-level -750,000 square foot- shopping center was constructed by the Monroeville, Pennsylvania-based Oxford Development Corporation. Upon its completion, GRAND CENTRAL was the largest shopping mall in the Mountain State. It was nearly twice the size of the previous record holder, White Hall's MIDDLETOWN MALL (1969).

A 1-level (144,000 square foot) J.C. Penney, the chain's largest West Virginia store, was the first anchor to open for business. It, and forty-one retailers, participated in a grand opening held August 17, 1972. By September of the year, a 1-level (104,000 square foot) Sears and 2-level (105,000 square foot), Charleston-based The Diamond were in operation, along with an additional twenty-eight retailers.

When fully completed, GRAND CENTRAL MALL encompassed eighty-three stores, including Walden Hallmark, The Gap, Pizza Inn, a G.C. Murphy 5 & 10 and Grand Central Cinemas I & II.

The Diamond was one of two locations in the chain. A division of the New York City-based Associated Dry Goods conglomerate, it was shuttered in 1983. The GRAND CENTRAL location became a Wheeling, West Virginia-based Stone & Thomas.

The first major expansion of GRAND CENTRAL MALL was completed in 1990 and involved the addition of 35,900 square feet to the northwest corner of the complex. 24,000 square feet of existing mall space was gutted and, with the new addition, made up a 60,000 square foot Youngstown, Ohio-based Phar-Mor Drug.

The Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust purchased GRAND CENTRAL MALL in 1993. They embarked on a 13 million dollar renovation in January 1996. This included facelifts of the interior and exterior and addition of over 122,400 square feet of new retail space. The renovation was done in two phases.

During Phase One, the Southwest section of the mall was gutted and rebuilt. A new multiplex, the Regal Grand Central Mall 12, and the 10-bay Grand Central Food Court were installed. These were officially dedicated in November 1996. The mall now encompassed 887,000 leasable square feet

Phase Two of the remodeling involved tearing out 18,500 square feet of area at the Main Entrance and building a 1-level (86,000 square foot) department store. Occupied by Alcoa, Tennessee-based Proffitt's, it opened for business March 4, 1998. These renovations increased the mall's leasable square footage to 906,200.

In June 1998, Dayton, Ohio-based Elder-Beerman bought the 10-store Stone & Thomas chain. The GRAND CENTRAL MALL operation was rebranded as an Edler-Beerman soon after.

The most recent changes at GRAND CENTRAL MALL involved the March 8, 2006 conversion of Proffitt's into a Charlotte-based Belk. 2006 also brought the opening of Steve & Barry's University Sportswear, in the Phar-Mor space (which had been vacated in 2002). Steve & Barry's closed in November 2008. The store space re-opened, as a Waterford, Michigan-based Dunham's Sports, November 20, 2009.

Today, GRAND CENTRAL MALL houses eighty-five store spaces. Tenants include Aeropostale, Hollister, Kay Jewelers, New York & Company, Rogers Jewelers, Spencer Gifts and Victoria's Secret. The mall is in the enviable position of being the only major shopping hub within a 77 mile radius. For this reason, it has no competitors.

The Simon Property Group created a spin-off Real Estate Investment Trust in May 2014. Known as the Washington Prime Group, it merged with the Glimcher Realty Trust in early 2015.

Sources:

Memories of Mike P., West Virginia resident
"Grand Central Mall" article on Wikipedia
"Proffit's" article on Wikipedia
"Elder-Beerman" article on Wikipedia
"Anonymous" comment post
http://www.glimcher.com