CROSS COUNTY CENTER
New York State Thruway / Interstate 87 and Cross County Parkway
Yonkers, New York

Developer Sol G. Atlas announced plans for metropolitan New York City's first shopping mall in July 1950. The open-air center was to be located on a 46.5 acre plot, that would eventually be expanded to 71 acres. The site sat 12.5 miles northeast of Times Square, in the Westchester County suburb of Yonkers.

Construction started on CROSS COUNTY CENTER in early 1953. Designed by New York City's Lathrop Douglass, the complex was predominantly a single-level structure, with service basements. Its southwest store block consisted of two above-ground levels.

The first phase of the project opened, with thirty-five stores, April 28, 1954. These included Walgreen Drug, Wilsker Delicatessen, A.S. Beck Shoes, Westchester Bootery, Layton's Interiors, Wallace Corning Men's Wear, Buster Brown Shoes and a freestanding First National Stores supermarket.

An 8-story tower housed retail on its first level and offices on levels 2 through 4. The Cross County Medical Center, taking levels 5 through 8, opened March 29, 1955. Philadephia-based John Wanamaker's 3-level (225,000 square foot) store opened, as the center's first anchor, April 28, 1955. New York City-based Gimbels' 3-level (200,000 square foot) location began business September 8, 1955.

By this time, the 30 million dollar CROSS COUNTY CENTER, incorporated approximately 906,200 square feet of retail, office and hospital space. Stores and services included Fanny Farmer Candies, Chandler's Shoes, Russek's ladies' wear, Wallach's and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

Three new store blocks were built on the south end of the complex in 1956-1957 and a fourth level added to Gimbels in 1960. The store now encompassed 250,000 square feet; the mall, approximately 981,500 square feet. In 1977, the Medical Center closed and was renovated into additional office space.

CROSS COUNTY CENTER, a middle-market venue, had no similar retail competitors in its immediate vicinity. There were, however, more upscale shopping destinations, such as GALLERIA OF WHITE PLAINS (1981) {8.2 miles northeast, in White Plains}, THE WESTCHESTER (1995) {8.4 miles northeast, in White Plains} and THE SOURCE AT WHITE PLAINS (2003) {8.3 miles northeast, also in White Plains}.

Moreover, a small (265,000 square foot) enclosed mall of twenty-six stores was built on a site directly southwest of CROSS COUNTY CENTER. Originally known as CROSS COUNTY SQUARE, it opened in August 1987. Today, this complex goes under the MALL AT CROSS COUNTY moniker.

Gimbels at CROSS COUNTY CENTER was rebranded, as a Stern's, in February 1987 and "Macy-ated" in February 2001. The John Wanamaker location was taken by Sears in October 1995. The original First National / Finast supermarket eventually became a Stop & Shop. In 2002, the store relocated into a new 65,000 square foot Super Stop & Shop. This outparcel was located southeast of the mall proper.

CROSS COUNTY CENTER was never enclosed and air-conditioned during the 1960s and '70s, as were most previously open-air centers of the mid-century. Its management during these years felt that, being as how the center remained profitable, there was no need to change it.

A major remodeling got underway at CROSS COUNTY CENTER in April 2007. The project was envisaged by the New York City-based Brooks Limited Liability Company, who owned the shopping facility. Santa Monica, California's Macerich Company, who managed the property, oversaw its renovation.

The complex was left essentially the same, but upgraded into a modern, lifestyle-type mall. Improvements included face lifts of all exteriors, refurbishment of the existing pedestrian mall with new landscaping and fountains, demolition of 47,000 square feet of retail space and construction of two new store blocks housing 95,500 square feet.

Macy's was also expanded (by 92,500 square feet), a 5-level parking garage constructed and the office tower renovated into a 150 bed hotel. 265 million dollars were spent on these renovations.

Phase One of the project, which brought new American Eagle Outfitters and Guess stores, was completed in late 2008. Phase Two, adding AX Armani Exchange, Bebe, Forever 21 and H & M, concluded in 2009. Phase Three, which was comprised of the Macy's addition and construction of the new parking structure, was finished in late 2011.

A week-long celebration, commemorating the relaunching of the 57-year-old retail hub, got underway October 11, 2011. At the same time, an official grand opening was held at WESTCHESTER'S RIDGE HILL {2.1 miles north, in Yonkers}. This open-air, cluster-type mall would eventually encompass 1.3 million leasable square feet. Although it was in close proximity to CROSS COUNTY CENTER, it was too upscale to be a viable competitor.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Brooks Shopping Centers LLC / Yonkers Planning Board / Jim Myers Consulting PC / August 2005
Final Environmental Impact Statement / Brooks Shopping Centers LLC / Yonkers Planning Board / Jim Myers Consulting PC / June 2006
www.crosscountycenter.com


BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS:

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection / Repository: United States Library Of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. / Taken by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc. / Samuel Herman, April 1959 / Sol Atlas- Client / Photographs are in the public domain: no known restrictions on publication / www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html