STONEWOOD CENTER
Lakewood and Firestone Boulevards
Downey, California

Downey, the fiftieth city to be formed in Los Angeles County, was officially incorporated December 17, 1956. Just east of the new municipality's downtown area, 10 miles southeast of center city Los Angeles, was the intersection of Lakewood and Firestone Boulevards. In Los Angeles' pre-freeway days, it was one of the busiest intersections in the world.

On the northeast corner of the junction was a 63 acre parcel. Part of the Jenison Ranch, it was leased for potential development in 1953. Construction of a freestanding coffee shop commenced in February 1956. It was followed by a building for the Downey Stonewood Community Bank.

A shopping facility, originally known as LANSDALE CENTER, was developed by William M. Lansdale and E. Morris Smith. Open-air in format and consisting of a main retail level and basement, the complex had been renamed STONEWOOD CENTER by the time of its official dedication, which was held October 9, 1958.

The complex spanned 355,200 leasable square feet and housed over thirty-five stores and services. These included W.T. Grant, F.W. Woolworth, a (60,000 square foot) J.C. Penney and (40,000 square foot) Shopping Bag supermarket.

Some of the mall's charter inline stores were Vincent's Rexall Drug, Helen Grace Candies, Western Auto, Oval Room Fashions ladies' wear, Toyville, Orange Julius, Woody's Men's Store, Anita Shops ladies' wear, Stonewood Music Center, the Magic Mirror Beauty Salon and Zella Brumley's Sports Togs ladies' wear.

In its early years, STONEWOOD CENTER did not have conventional anchor stores. Its first, a 3-level (143,400 square foot), Los Angeles-based The Broadway, was dedicated October 18, 1965. This was followed by a 2-level (192,600 square foot) J.C. Penney, dedicated July 30, 1969. It replaced the 60,000 square foot store which had opened along with the mall in 1958.

The single-screen Lippert's Transcontinental Theatres Showcase Cinema showed had shown its first feature May 26, 1966. It was twinned in 1971 and renamed the Showcase 1 & Showcase 2. Apparently the venue was known as Stonewood Cinemas in its latter days.

A 2-level (80,600 square foot) Mervyn's, and 22,800 square feet of new store space, were added to the north side of the complex and were completed in late 1981. The expanded center now encompassed approximately 858,100 leasable square feet.

Commercial competition for STONEWOOD came from LAKEWOOD CENTER (1951) {5.7 miles south, in Lakewood}, WHITTWOOD CENTER (1956) {6.7 miles east, in Whittier}, LA MIRADA CENTER (1959) {6.7 miles southeast, in La Mirada}, BEUNA PARK MALL (1961) {9.4 miles southeast, in Orange County} and MONTEBELLO TOWN CENTER (1988) {6.9 miles north, in Montebello}.

By the late 1980s, STONEWOOD CENTER, still open-air, had been outpositioned by fully-enclosed shopping centers in its vicinity. The property was acquired by Newport Beach-based Hughes Investments in 1986. They submitted a redevelopment plan to the Downey City Council in February 1989, which was approved in July. Reconstruction of the mall got underway in October of the same year.

A 2-level (146,200 square foot), Los Angeles-based May Company California was added to the south side of the complex, with existing mall space rebuilt to accommodate the new store and its entrance court. The old supermarket, which had housed a Thrifty Drug and furniture store, was remodeled into a 1-level (30,100 square foot) May Company Home Store.

The west end of the mall was refitted with a 12-bay Food Court. Basement retail area was also abandoned. All concourses and atrium areas were fully-enclosed by steel pyramid structures and glass skylights. The mall's exterior was redone in a Post Modern motif.

May Company and its Home Store welcomed their first customers in September 1990. The fully-enclosed mall's re-dedication began on October 19, 1990, STONEWOOD CENTER now enveloped 939,400 leasable square feet and over one hundred stores and services.

STONEWOOD CENTER was acquired by the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company in August 1997. Macerich had owned the nearby LAKEWOOD CENTER since 1975. In May 1999, they also acquired LOS CERRITOS CENTER. The three malls were referred to, henceforth, as the company's "Triplets".

May Company and its Home Store became the first mall anchors to be rebranded. They were rebannered, with Robinsons-May nameplates, on January 31, 1993.

The Broadway was shuttered in 1996. The STONEWOOD CENTER location was one of seven Southern California The Broadway stores to be sold to Sears. Included in the transaction were operations at TOPANGA PLAZA, LOS ALTOS CENTER and WHITTWOOD CENTER. As a facet of the store's November 2, 1996 re-opening, the Illinois-based retailer had added a freestanding Auto Center in the southeast parking area of the mall.

Robinsons-May locations were "Macy-ated" September 9, 2006. The next STONEWOOD anchor store to receive a new nameplate was Mervyn's, which became a Menomonee, Wisconsin-based Kohl's September 30, 2009.

Sources:

http://www.thedowneypatriot.com
Mall memories of Mitch Glaser
Comment post by Randy
www.downeyca.org / "Stonewood Specific Plan SP-89-1"
www.shopstonewoodcenter.com
Los Angeles County, California property tax assessor website
Downey Historical Conservancy Photostream / "RetroCool"
"Stonewood Center" article on Wikipedia