ROGERS PLAZA
28th Street Southwest and Michael Avenue Southwest
Wyoming, Michigan

The Greater Grand Rapids region hosted the first fully-enclosed, regional-class shopping mall in Michigan. ROGERS PLAZA, developed by a joint venture of Pioneer Shopping Center, Incorporated and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, was constructed on a 32 acre parcel, situated 3.5 miles southwest of downtown Grand Rapids, in suburban Wyoming.

The single-level complex was designed by Willard Thorsen and originally encompassed approximately 334,100 leasable square feet. The facility was officially dedicated August 3, 1961. Attending the grand opening were Russel P. Bygel, vice-president of Montgomery Ward, Roger O. Bergman, manager of the ROGERS PLAZA Montgomery Ward, and Miss Karen Southway, "Miss Michigan 1961".

The mall was anchored by a 2-level (168,700 square foot) Montgomery Ward. Among its thirty-two stores and services were Cunningham Drug, Kirby's Shoes, an S.S. Kresge 5 & 10, W.T. Grant variety store, Kroger supermarket and S & H Green Stamps Redemption Center.

The first retail rival opened for business in 1963. BRETON VILLAGE CENTER {4 miles east, in Grand Rapids} was a fully-enclosed, community-sized complex. It was followed by two regional-class centers. EASTBROOK MALL {5.1 miles east, in Grand Rapids} opened in 1967. WOODLAND MALL, located adjacent to (and west of) EASTBROOK, was completed in 1968.

By the late 1960s, ROGERS PLAZA was experiencing financial difficulties. It was thought that the addition of a second anchor store, on the east end of the complex, would improve the fortunes of the shopping center. Plans were drawn for a new Chicago-based Turn Style discount mart.

The Kresge Corporation, who viewed the potential Turn Style as a competitor, filed suit. The case was decided in mid-1970. A 1-level (98,800 square foot) Turn Style opened in 1971. ROGERS PLAZA now encompassed 432,900 leasable square feet. Kresge's soon shuttered their ROGERS PLAZA store in protest.

Turn Style folded in early 1978, with its space being subdivided. The largest section was configured as a (55,900 square foot), Grand Rapids-based Rogers Catalog Showroom. The western portion of the old Turn Style was rebuilt into several inline store spaces.

The Rogers chain was acquired by Richmond, Virginia-based Best Products in 1982. In 1985, they rebranded all Rogers locations as Best Products stores. This chain went bankrupt in 1997. Its ROGERS PLAZA space was sectioned into four new stores, with the largest being a (28,000 square foot), Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots.

ROGERS PLAZA, owned by Hartford, Connecticut-based Hutensky Capital Partners, underwent a major renovation, which got underway in August 2001. Montgomery Ward, the west anchor, had been vacant since March. It was demolished and replaced by a (25,100 square foot) A.J. Wright Family Apparel and (53,400 square foot) Family Fare supermarket.

The 6.4 million dollar renovation also included new storefronts and canopies for the north-facing front of the mall, with the interior mallway being spruced-up, as well. The renewed retail center, now officially known as ROGERS PLAZA TOWN CENTER, was dedicated October 31, 2002. The complex encompassed 325,700 leasable square feet.

Chicago-based WexTrust Capital bought the shopping center in December 2004. The company was soon embroiled in a pyramid investment scandal, with the ROGERS PLAZA property in foreclosure by early 2009. It was acquired by San Antonio's Sun Valley Limited in June 2012.

Sources:

Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
http://muse.jhu.edu
"Best Products" article on Wikipedia
www.loopnet.com
www.cbre.com (CB Richard Ellis)
http://boumaconstruct.portfoliocms.com
www.mlive.com