NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA
North College Avenue / US Business 71 and Joyce Boulevard
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Des Moines, Iowa's General Growth Management, the precursor of today's General Growth Properties, opened three regional shopping malls during 1972; THE CITADEL {in Colorado Springs, Colorado}, MARSHALLTOWN MALL {in Marshalltown, Iowa} and NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA.

The Arkansas property was built on the eastern half of a 112 acre plot, located 4 miles north of center city Fayetteville. Ground was broken for a 1-level (90,400 square foot) Sears in October 1970. This store was dedicated August 18, 1971.

By this time, a fully-enclosed mall and 2-level (117,400 square foot) Dillard's were under construction. NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA was officially dedicated March 2, 1972. The complex consisted of a single retail level and encompassed 450,000 leasable square feet and housed over fifty stores and services.

The Dillard's store anchoring the north end was noteworthy in that it was the Little Rock-based chain's twelfth Dillard's location and the very first Arkansas store to open with a Dillard's nameplate.

By late 1971, Dillard's was operating six stores in Texas, two in New Mexico and one in each of the states of Missouri, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The chain also owned stores branded as Brown-Dunkin {Muskogee and Tulsa, Oklahoma}; Mayer & Schmidt {Tyler, Texas} and Pfiefer-Blass {Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Pine Bluff, Arkansas}.

With the March 1972 dedication of the NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA store, Dillard's had twenty-two locations under its corporate umbrella. Bigger things were to come...

A list of original inline stores at NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA would include County Square Casuals, Regis Hairstylists, Trumbo men's wear, Mode O' Day Frock Shop, John's Jeans, Bowen's restaurant, Karmelkorn, First Federal Savings & Loan, Osco Drug, Perry's Jewelry, Gentry Shop and Gordon's Jewelers.

The retail facility also housed three junior anchors; a (23,500 square foot), Beaumont, Texas-based Boston Store, (47,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Malco Mall Cinema I & II Twin.

The first expansion got underway in late 1977. A 1-level (95,600 square foot) J.C. Penney was added, as a part of an eighteen-store West Wing. This was dedicated September 4, 1978. Tenants included Lerner Shops, Mall Keepsake Center Jewelers and Royal Optical. With the renovation, the complex, now known as NORTHWEST ARKANSAS MALL spanned 570,000 leasable square feet.

A new owner, the Columbia, Maryland-based James Rouse Company, came on the scene in August 1980. In late 1986, they announced a major interior renovation. Work got underway in February 1987.

A vacant Boston Store space was retenanted by Shreveport-based Beall-Ladymon. Woolworth was downsized and reconfigured in a "racetrack" layout, with new Foot Locker and Lane Bryant stores installed in former Woolworth space. Lastly, a Food Court was created in the mall's Center Court. It included Chick-Fil-A, Capwell's Barbeque, Kansas City Hamburgers and Tacos & Spuds.

The renewed NORTHWEST ARKANSAS MALL was officially rededicated November 5, 1987. Governor Bill Clinton (D) was present at the grand opening celebration.

In June 1989, the Rouse Company entered into a partnership with the New York City-based Teachers Insurance & Annuities Association. A mall owning and managing entity known as Tri-State Joint Venture was created.

An ambitious, 50 million dollar remodeling got underway in May 1995. Its first phase involved the construction of a 2-level (105,000 square foot) Dillard's Men's & Home Store, which was added to the east side of the mall. With its completion in August 1996, the original Dillard's became a Women's Store.

The expansion continued on the mall's west side, where the parking area was enlarged. A new 2-level (154,100 square foot) J.C. Penney was built, which held its grand opening November 6, 1996. The circa-1978 Penney's was gutted, with 30,000 square feet on its north end demolished. Remaining space was fashioned into the 12-bay Picnic Food Court and ten inline stores.

A structure housing thirteen additional stores was built between the old and new Penney's. Tenants in the original mall relocated and expanded into adjoining areas. Moreover, the existing mall structure was given an indoor-outdoor upgrade to match newly-constructed areas.

These modifications had been completed by August 1997. New retailers included Victoria's Secret, Eddie Bauer, The Disney Store, The Gap, Motherhood Maternity, Friedman's Jewelers and Overland Trading. Beall-Ladymon had been shuttered in January 1994, with its space sectioned into smaller inline stores.

The final stage of the metamorphosis of NORTHWEST ARKANSAS MALL involved the enlargement of Sears, the south anchor. The store was increased in size by 46,700 square feet, into a 137,100 square foot operation. This project was completed in the spring of 1999. The complex now spanned 820,500 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and five stores and services.

Santa Monica, California's Macerich Company had purchased the shopping hub in December 1998. In December 2006, they sold it to Springdale, Arkansas-based Midwest Mall Properties, in a three-mall deal. Included in the transaction were THE CITADEL (1972) {in Colorado Springs} and CROSSROADS MALL (1974) {in Oklahoma City}.

In October of the same year, NORTHWEST ARKANSAS MALL faced its first regional-class rival, the new PINNACLE HILLS PROMENADE {11.8 miles northwest, in Rogers}. Up to this time, NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PLAZA / MALL had been the only major shopping center within a 60 mile radius.

Midwest Mall Properties could not have picked a worse time to overextend its finances with the purchase of three shopping malls. The Great Recession would be in full swing in less than a year, leaving the newly-formed company saddled with three upside down mall mortgages.

The CROSSROADS property fell to foreclosure in April 2009. After being sued by the loan lender, Midwest surrendered the remaining two malls to an agent of Citigroup in November 2011. Eventually, an entity known as 4201 North Shiloh Drive Holdings assumed ownership. Birmingham's Bayer Properties was enlisted to handle its management and leasing.

In December 2015, a joint venture of the Namdar Realty Group, Mason Asset Management and CH Capital Group, all based in Great Neck, New York, acquired the shopping hub.

Sources:

http://uptownfayettevillear.com
The Springdale News
Northwest Arkansas Times
Northwest Arkansas Gazette
General Growth Properties Annual Report 2003
www.northwestarkansasmall.com
www.bayerproperties.com
www.alamoarchitects.com
Washington County, Arkansas property tax assessor website
http://www.istockanalyst.com
www.arkansasbusiness.com
www.eyecorp.com
www.urbanretail.com