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, in a region known as the Mid-Ohio Valley. GRAND CENTRAL MALL occupied an 85 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 shopping center encompassed 750,000 leasable square feet. It 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 contender, White Hall's MIDDLETOWN MALL (1969).

Forty-two stores and services were dedicated at the official grand opening of GRAND CENTRAL MALL, which was held August 17, 1972. These included a 2-level (105,000 square foot), Charleston-based The Diamond and General Cinema Corporation Cinema I & II.

A 1-level (144,000 square foot) J.C. Penney, the chain's largest West Virginia store, welcomed its first shoppers on September 21, 1972. The mall's 1-level (104,000 square foot) Sears began business at the same time.

When fully leased, GRAND CENTRAL MALL housed eighty-three stores and services. Dil's River Packet, which sold men's and boy's sport separates, operated out of a 2-level riverboat-motif store. Seddon's Restaurant, done in Mediterranean decor, included a full-service bar and a dance floor.

Other inline tenants included Orange Julius, Waldenbooks, Walden Hallmark, The Gap, Pizza Inn, Lerner Shops, Hickory Farms of Ohio, Nobil Shoes, Der Dog Haus, Embee's ladies' wear, Creations Unlimited, National Record Mart, House of Toys, GNC, Pretzel Oven and a G.C. Murphy 5 & 10. There was also a 250-seat Community Room.

A second enclosed shopping center opened in "The Burg" in late 1983. TOWN SQUARE MALL, a redevelopment in downtown Parkersburg, was much smaller than the sprawling GRAND CENTRAL facility and could not effectively compete with it. TOWN SQUARE eventually faltered and was converted into an office complex. 

The Diamond at GRAND CENTRAL MALL was one of two locations in the chain. A division of New York City-based Associated Dry Goods, it was shuttered in 1983. Soon after, the store re-opened as a Wheeling, West Virginia-based Stone & Thomas.

At around the same time, Cinema I & II was expanded into adjacent store space, with the venue being renamed Cinema I-V. Eventually, the mall's G.C. Murphy closed. The bulk of its area became a Knoxville-based Goody's Family Clothing.

The first expansion of GRAND CENTRAL MALL was completed in the early 1990s. The northwest corner of the complex was gutted, with additional retail space added. A (65,000 square foot) Phar-Mor store was created.

The Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust purchased GRAND CENTRAL MALL in 1993. They embarked on a 25 million dollar renovation in January 1996. This project, which was done in two phases, would add over 122,400 square feet of new retail space.

During Phase One, the southwest corner of the mall was gutted and rebuilt. The first eateries in the 10-bay Grand Central Food Court opened in November 1996. The adjacent Regal Grand Central Mall 12 replaced the old in-mall 5-plex.

Phase Two of the remodeling involved tearing out 18,500 square feet of store space at the mall's 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 Gross Leasable Area to 902,400 square feet.

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.

Over the ensuing years, more changes were made at GRAND CENTRAL MALL. Proffitt's morphed into a Charlotte-based Belk on March 8, 2006. 2006 also brought the opening of Steve & Barry's University Sportswear, in the Phar-Mor space (which had been vacated in December 2001). Steve & Barry's closed in November 2008. The store re-opened, as a Waterford, Michigan-based Dunham's Sports, on November 20, 2009.

Today, GRAND CENTRAL MALL houses eighty-five store spaces. The facility is in the enviable position of being the only major shopping hub within a 35-mile radius. For this reason, it has no real competitors.

Indiana's 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:

The Charleston Gazette
The Charleston Daily Mail
Memories of Mike P., former 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