SHOPPINGTOWN CENTER
Erie Boulevard East and Kinne Road
Onondaga County (Town of DeWitt), New York

One of the first post-war, suburban retail hubs in Upstate New York was built on a 48 acre plot, located 3.7 miles east of center city Syracuse, in a section of Onondaga County known as Town of DeWitt. The SHOPPINGTOWN center was designed by Syracuse's Fred B. O'Connor and developed by Syracuse-based Eagan Real Estate.

Construction commenced on the open-air, strip-type complex in March 1953, with an official grand opening held on March 3, 1954. Stores beginning business on this day included J.C. Penney, Walgreen Drug, Candlelight Shop, Kearny-Goodyear Auto & Appliance, Wilbur-Rogers ladies' and children's wear, G.R. Kinney Shoes, Alexander Grant's Hardware, Fanny Farmer Candies, an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Grand Union and Acme supermarkets.

The center was expanded with a new north store block in 1955, which included a Mayfair Interiors store. With its completion, SHOPPINGTOWN housed thirty-five stores and services. Construction was underway on a subsequent addition by May 1956.

This would add a Flah's specialty store, 2-level (48,400 square foot) W.T. Grant "junior department store", Howard's men's wear, Sportogs and the "ultra-modern" Kallet Theatres ShoppingTown Theatre. The new stores were open for business by October 1956. The ShoppingTown Theatre showed its first feature on March 20, 1957.

A 2-level (97,900 square foot), Syracuse-based Dey Brothers was added to the north end of the center in 1962. This was joined by a 3-level (150,000 square foot), Rochester-based E.W. Edwards & Son in October of 1968.

This store was built directly in front of the ShoppingTown Theatre. Rendered useless, the old movie house was replaced by a new twinplex, the Kallet Shoppingtown Theatre I & II. Built as a southeastern outparcel, the venue was dedicated December 26, 1968.

A major renovation and expansion was done at SHOPPINGTOWN in the mid-1970; this envisaged by the Syracuse-based Sergeant, Webster, Crenshaw & Foley firm. The southern half of the strip center was demolished, leaving the north section and freestanding twin cinema standing. A fully-enclosed mall was created, with new retail area added east of the remaining strip center.

E.W. Edwards & Son had vacated their anchor space. J.C. Penney relocated into the store on January 22, 1975. The new SHOPPINGTOWN MALL was dedicated August 7, 1975. The complex encompassed approximately 476,200 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of seventy-five stores and services.

A subsequent expansion was completed in mid-1987. A 2-level (70,100 square foot), Syracuse-based Chappell's was added along with thirty-one inline stores. Moreover, the freestanding twin cinema was sectioned into a fourplex, now promoted as the Shoppingtown 1-2-3-4. SHOPPINGTOWN MALL now housed 608,700 leasable square feet and contained one hundred and eleven stores and services.

For some time, SHOPPINGTOWN had competed with two malls in its vicinity. FAYETTEVILLE MALL {2.2 miles southeast, in Onondaga County} had opened in August 1974. PENN CAN MALL {7.9 miles northeast, also in Onondaga County} made its debut in March 1976.

In October 1990, a more formidable adversary opened for business. CAROUSEL CENTER {5.6 miles northwest, in Syracuse} was a 7-level, million+ square foot buying behemoth. It immediately put the hurt on all of its shopping mall competitors.

As a keeping up measure, SHOPPINGTOWN was expanded and completely renovated. A Northeast Wing was built, which contained forty-eight inline stores and a 10-bay Food Court. A nearby court area featured a 2-level merry-go-round.

The new wing was anchored by a 2-level (120,400 square foot), Syracuse-based Addis & Dey's (a 1989 merger Addis Company and Dey Brothers). A parking garage, which connected with three anchor stores, was included in the 53 million dollar remodeling. The renewed retail center, officially re-dedicated August 22, 1991, spanned approximately 883,100 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and seventy stores and services.

The abandoned Addis & Dey's (nee' Addis Brothers), on the northwest corner of the mall, was briefly retenanted by a two stores. A (48,900 square foot) T.J. Maxx occupied its lower level, with a (48,900 square foot) Steinbach opening, on the upper level, March 20, 1992.

A game of merchandising musical chairs soon played out. Rochester-based Wilmorite Properties owned the FAYETTEVILLE and SHOPPINGTOWN malls. It was decided to move the Sears at FAYETTEVILLE MALL to SHOPPINGTOWN.

Steinbach shut down on June 18, 1994. T.J. Maxx opened at a new FAYETTEVILLE MALL store on August 8. By this time, the vacated store at SHOPPINGTOWN was being expanded. It re-opened, as a 2-level (143,500 square foot) Sears, in early 1995.

Meanwhile, Addis & Dey's had been shuttered in January 1993, with the store re-opening, as a Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's, May 26 of the same year. Chappell's was rebranded by York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton in 1995.

The basement section in the southeast corner of the mall was gutted and rebuilt as the Hoyts Shoppingtown Mall 10 Cinema, which held its grand opening October 3, 1997. By this time, the freestanding 4-plex had been shuttered and demolished.

Between April and October 2000, the most recent expansion of SHOPPINGTOWN MALL was completed. It added a (50,100 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods, which had relocated from a smaller location within the mall. The 10-plex cinema became a Regal venue in 2002. The retail facility now spanned 1,002,100 leasable square feet.

SHOPPINGTOWN MALL changed hands in  April 2005. The Santa Monica-based Macerich Company acquired the portfolio of Rochester-based Wilmorite Properties. Subsequent changes at the shopping center included the shuttering of The Bon Ton, on January 28, 2006.

A section of the vacant store's lower level was reconfigured as an expansion of the mall's megaplex. It was renamed the Regal Shoppingtown Mall Stadium 14 on July 11, 2008. Meanwhile, Kaufmann's had come under the Macy's moniker on September 9, 2006.

A major renovation of the SHOPPINGTOWN property was announced in March 2007. This was to entail demolition of the West Wing, between Sears and Dick's, which would have been replaced by an open-air promenade. The Great Recession caused the project to be abandoned.

Macerich requested a tax abatement from Onondaga County, which was approved in January 2011. This was to make the renovation of the mall financially feasible. However, the company defaulted on its 39 million dollar mall loan in May 2011. Miami Beach-based LNR Property bought the complex at a bargain basement price.

For months, LNR remained close-lipped about any future SHOPPINGTOWN plans. This prompted US Senator Chuck Schumer (D) to urge the mall owner to work with local officials to come up with a plan to reinvent the struggling retail hub.

Eventually, LNR threw in the towel. The struggling shopping facility was sold at an online auction in August 2013. The new owner was Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments. In late 2014, they were poised to begin a massive redevelopment. This initiative was thwarted by the shuttering of the mall's Macy's, in May 2015.

To add insult to injury, Dick's Sporting Goods relocated away from the mall in October of the same year. The series of store closings caused Moonbeam Capital to reevaluate their redevelopment plan. A more mixed-use -lifestyle-like- reinvention was envisaged, with office, healthcare and residential components.

Plans for a partial demolition of the West Wing, originally proposed in 2007, were revived. The western half of the wing would be razed, with existing stores on the east side opened up to an expanded parking area.

J.C. Penney, who had maintained a SHOPPINGTOWN store since 1954, closed on April 8, 2016. Christopher & Banks called it quits in May. University Sports Shop, Yankee Candle Company, Tuxedo Junction and PayLess ShoeSource were shuttered in 2017. Undaunted, Moonbeam Capital finalized plans for a long-awaited mall revitalization.

Sources:

http://www.syracusenostalgia.com
www.cinemasightlines.com / T.J. Edwards and George E. Read
http://movie-theatre.org
The Post-Standard
www.cinematreasaures.org
Onondaga County, New York tax assessor website
www.labelscar.com
www.macerich.com
www.syracuse.com