MILLCREEK MALL
Peach Street / US 19 and Interchange Road
Erie County, Pennsylvania

The first (and only) major shopping mall in Erie County, Pennsylvania was built on an 87.5 acre parcel, located 3.4 miles southwest of center city Erie. The site, formerly the Spires Farm and temporary Kearsarge Airfield, was in an unincorporated section of Erie County known as Millcreek Township.

MILLCREEK MALL was developed by Youngstown, Ohio's Cafaro Company. The fully-enclosed complex encompassed approximately approximately 1,095,700 leasable square feet and featured five anchor stores.

The first to open for business were a 2-level (125,000 square foot) Sears and 2-level (137,100 square foot), Erie-based Boston Store. These were in operation by late 1974. A 2-level (86,800 square foot), Cleveland-based Halle's was dedicated in January 1975, followed by a 2-level (160,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's, which made its debut September 9 of the same year. The final anchor, a 2-level (148,200 square foot) J.C. Penney, held it's grand opening October 1, 1975.

MILLCREEK MALL held its official dedication October 6, 1975, with new store openings stretching into the following year. Junior anchors were a J.G. McCrory 5 & 10 and Ashtabula-based Carlisle's.

The General Cinema Corporation Millcreek Cinema 3 was dedicated around the time of the mall's grand opening. There was also a (91,800 square foot) retail annex in the northwest parking area.

Charter inline stores included Orange Julius, Hot Sam Pretzels, Florsheim Shoes, Spencer Gifts, Ciro's Supper Club, York Steakhouse, Karmelkorn, Hickory Farms of Ohio, CVS Drug, County Seat, Musicland and a branch of the Erie County Public Library.

The nearest mall-type counterpart was ERIE CENTRAL MALL (1963) {3.3 miles northeast, in downtown Erie}. This complex, which encompassed only 181,700 leasable square feet, was no match for MILLCREREK MALL, which was five times its size. The nearest regional-class complex was MEADVILLE MALL (1970) {30.2 miles southwest, in Crawford County}.

A dizzying succession of anchor store closings, openings and rebrandings commenced at MILLCREEK MALL in July 1979. The Boston Store morphed into a Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company. This Horne's was rebranded by Columbus-based Lazarus in May 1994.

Lazarus closed March 14, 1998 and was replaced by a Dayton-based Elder-Beerman on September 11 of the same year. Elder-Beerman was followed by a York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton in October 2003.

Halle's was the second store in the mall to change nameplates. The chain folded in 1982, with its MILLCREEK MALL location re-opening as an Erie-based Dahlkemper's Catalog Showroom. This lasted until 1993.

On August 1, 1997, Burlington Coat Factory assumed the space, but moved out of the mall in the fall of 2012. The vacant anchor was reconfigured as eight inline stores, with a new southwest mall entrance created.

Meanwhile, Carlisle's space, vacated in 1995, was renovated with a small addition. The area was occupied by a Myrtle Beach-based Waccamaw's HomePlace. This was shuttered April 1, 2001 and divided between a New Jersey-based AC Moore Arts & Crafts and New York State-based Steve & Barry's University Sportswear.

The Steve & Barry's chain was liquidated in early 2009. AC Moore expanded into its space. Kaufmann's had been converted into a Macy's on September 8, 2006.

Peripheral structures were added to the shopping center site during the 1980s. These included Children's Palace (1983) and a second multiplex, the General Cinema Corporation Millcreek 6 Theatre, which was completed in 1986.

An additional strip center of stores was proposed by the Cafaro Company in 1989; this to occupy a 62 acre site west of the existing mall. Many hurdles were to be overcome before this addition would come to fruition.

After 10 years of litigation and negotiation, Cafaro was finally able to proceed with the construction of MILLCREEK MALL PAVILION. Ground was broken in the fall of 1998. Stores opened between 1999 and 2002. These included a (51,000 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods, (26,500 square foot) Linens 'N Things and (23,600 square foot) Old Navy.

Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills had also dedicated an (85,300 square foot) freestanding store. This closed and re-opened, as a Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames, in July 1999. An adjacent parcel at the northwest corner of the PAVILION site was developed as a prospective Regal 12-plex cinema. Work commenced in December 1998, but stopped in September 2001. After two false starts, the project was abandoned. Said cinema was never completed.

Although MILLCREEK MALL had been given a face lift in 1996, by the late 2000s it was ready for another update. Cafaro announced a mall makeover in March 2008, which was to extend for 7 months.

The original 3-screen cinema, shuttered March 20, 1997, had been replaced by Albany-based FYE (For Your Entertainment) in November 2002. Adjacent area was reworked into a 5-bay Food Court. Moreover, common areas were refurbished with Italian porcelain floors, new ceiling treatments and skylights. Three mall entrances were remodeled, with a fourth being sealed off.

A Bazaar Court in the mall was gutted and reoriented with exterior-entranced storefronts, along with most of the existing space on the west-facing front of the mall. This area became an upscale PROMENADE, populated with various high-end boutiques and bistros. The renewed MILLCREEK MALL was dedicated November 14, 2008.

By 2013, the mall proper, its adjacent strip centers, and most of its outparcels, were being promoted as the MILLCREEK MALL COMPLEX. The mall proper encompassed approximately 1,107,300 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and fifteen stores and services, with twelve kiosks.

Sears, a 1974 charter anchor, was shuttered in December 2016. In January, work began on a renovation of the vacant building. It was expanded to 151,000 square feet and re-opened, as a Reading-based Boscov's, October 5, 2017.

With this addition, MILLCREEK MALL proper housed approximately 1,133,300 leasable square foot under its roof. There were now one hundred and fifteen stores and services, with twelve kiosks.

Sources:

"Millcreek Mall" article on Wikipedia
Erie County, Pennsylvania property tax assessor website
www.cafarocompany.com
http://www.goerie.com
www.cinematreasures.org