EASTFIELD MALL
Boston Road / US 20 and Fernbank Road
Springfield, Massachusetts

The first fully-enclosed shopping center in Western Massachusetts was built by Maryland's James Rouse Company, under the auspices of its Community Research & Development subsidiary. EASTFIELD MALL was developed on a 43.6 acre site, located 5 miles northeast of center city Springfield.

The single-level complex was officially dedicated on April 1, 1968. Two anchor department stores opened on this day; a 2-level (121,000 square foot), Springfield-based Forbes & Wallace and 2-level (201,000 square foot) Sears. Forty-four inline stores also held grand openings.

On August 1, 1968, a 2-level (117,000 square foot), Springfield-based Albert Steiger Company welcomed its first patrons. By this time, the mall contained sixty-four tenant spaces. Some of its charter stores and services were Peerless Company, Chess King, Andersen-Little, Thom McAn Shoes, Mall Barber Shop, Baker's Shoes, a Friendly Ice Cream Shop, Music City Record Store and Flaming Pit Steakhouse.

The General Cinema Corporation Eastfield Cinema showed its first feature December 25, 1968. With its completion,  EASTFIELD MALL encompassed 656,000 leasable square feet.

Retail rivals in the Pioneer Valley included BAYSTATE WEST (1970) {a center city Springfield Urban Renewal project}, FAIRFIELD MALL (1974) {4.8 miles northwest, in Chicopee ["chik-uh-pee"]} and HOLYOKE ["hohl-ee-ohk"] MALL (1979) {7.8 miles northwest, in Holyoke}.

Anchor rebrandings commenced with the shuttering of the mall's Forbes & Wallace store, which transpired on August 7, 1976. The vacant space was taken by J.C. Penney, who held their grand opening on August 10, 1977.

Meanwhile, the mall's movie theater had re-opened, as the Eastfield 1 & 2, in October 1976. The theater was shuttered in late 1985. In January 1986, construction commenced on a 2.5 million dollar renovation. 90,000 square feet of the southeast corner of the mall, including the vacant cinema, was gutted and extended. This area was rebuilt as the 10-bay Market Shed Food Court, which was completed in October 1986.

A second anchor conversion involved the Albert Steiger Company, which closed on March 12, 1994. The EASTFIELD MALL location was one of six Steiger's stores sold to May Department Stores, of St. Louis. The building was remodeled and re-opened, as a Boston-based Filene's, November 9, 1994.

Clifton, New Jersey's Mountain Development Corporation acquired EASTFIELD MALL in April 1998. Soon after, plans were announced for a revitalization, which was to include the addition of the Showcase Cinemas Eastfield Mall 16. Construction got underway in March 1999 with the megaplex cinema opening for business August 27 of the same year. The mall now enveloped approximately 824,000 leasable square feet.

The most recent nameplate changes at EASTFIELD MALL involve Filene's, which was "Macy-ated" September 9, 2006, and the Showcase Cinemas, which became the Rave Eastfield 16 in April 2010. The mall's J.C. Penney was demoted to an Outlet Store August 10, 2005 and was shuttered in August 2011.

In early 2015, three major inline stores shut down; Radio Shack, Deb Shops and American Eagle Outfitters. Macy's pulled the proverbial plug on their EASTFIELD store in April 2016, leaving only Sears to sustain the shopping hub. The vacant Penney's was leased as a 1-level Spirit Halloween on an intermittent basis.

Mountain Development has plans to demall the EASTFIELD complex, demolishing at least two of its anchor stores but leaving the Rave cinema and Sears standing. The remaining structures are to be worked into an open-air power plaza.

Sources:

The Springfield Republican
http://caldorrainbowblogspot.com / Nicholas DiMaio webmaster
http://www.eastfieldmall.com
Hampden County, Massachusetts Register of Deeds Records Access Site
Western Massachusetts Movie Theaters and Drive-Ins / Mike Rivest
www.masslive.com