NORTH EAST MALL
Bedford-Euless and Melbourne Roads
Hurst, Texas

Fort Worth's Tandy Corporation and the Stripling's department store chain announced plans for a 12 million dollar shopping hub in March 1968. The fully-enclosed center was to be built on a 98 acre site, situated 8.5 miles northeast of center city Fort Worth, in the suburb of Hurst.

NORTH EAST MALL, being developed by Indianapolis' Melvin Simon & Associates, would be anchored by Stripling's, Leonards, and a third, national department store. Tandy Corporation, who had bought the Fort Worth-based Leonards department store chain in 1967, planned for the NORTH EAST MALL location to be its first branch.

Construction of said store was underway by late 1968. However, problems with site drainage and utilities delayed progress on the building. A second Leonards branch in Arlington, whose construction had actually started after that of the NORTH EAST MALL store, ended up opening first.

Dallas' Harrell & Hamilton Architects designed the single-level NORTH EAST MALL, which, upon its completion, was to envelop 750,000 leasable square feet and seventy-six store spaces. Its 2-level (240,000 square foot) Leonards, originally a freestanding store, opened for business July 10, 1970.

The new Leonards included a snack bar / cafeteria, western wear & saddlery department, lawn & garden center, full line supermarket (with deli and bakery), freestanding auto center and, eventually, the Lenwood Hall community room. The store was equipped with a conveyor system, which transported larger purchases, via subway, to a convenient package pick-up area.

Stripling's 2-level (106,000 square foot) NORTH EAST MALL location was dedicated March 18, 1971. The store included the following departments; men's, women's & children's wear, shoes, jewelry, luggage, fabrics & notions, linens, housewares, photo equipment, radio & TV, draperies, furniture, appliances, toys and lawn & garden.

Moreover, the store's Very Special beauty salon was the place for local ladies to get the latest "Shag" hairstyle. In the middle of the building, at the central escalators, was the Wishing Fountain, a feature included at the first Stripling's branch at Fort Worth's SEMINARY SOUTH CENTER.

The official ribbon cutting for NORTH EAST MALL was held, at the Dancing Waters Fountain in the Leonards Court, on March 25, 1971. Mall stores and services included Cullem & Boren apparel, Pizzazzz apparel and Skillern's Drugs. A (28,000 square foot) J.G. McCrory 5 & 10 opened in August 1971, joined by the center's third anchor, a 2-level (147,700 square foot) J.C. Penney. This store rang up its first sale on November 3.

Rumors of a mall expansion surfaced in early 1977, but were not initially confirmed by Melvin Simon & Associates. When the renovation was officially announced, it was told that NORTH EAST MALL would receive new Sears and Montgomery Ward anchors, as well as a multiplex cinema and seventeen inline stores.

Construction of the expansion was underway by September 1977, with completion taking place in the fall of 1978. A 2-level (164,100 square foot) Sears and 2-level (178,000 square foot) Montgomery Ward were built, along with the United Artists North East 6 cinema and twenty inline stores. NORTH EAST MALL now encompassed 1.3 million leasable square feet and over one hundred tenant spaces.

RICHLAND PLAZA (1962) {2.7 miles southwest, in North Richland Hills} was outpositioned by NORTH EAST MALL and eventually failed as a retail center. A list of shopping centers that fared better against NORTH EAST MALL would include SIX FLAGS MALL (1970) {9.8 miles southeast, in Arlington}, RIDGMAR MALL (1976) {14.7 miles southwest, in Fort Worth}, NORTH HILLS MALL (1979) {.8 mile west, in North Richland Hills} and, eventually, GRAPEVINE MILLS (1997) {12.6 miles northeast, in Grapevine}.

The first anchor alteration at NORTH EAST MALL involved Leonards, which had been acquired by Dillard's in 1974 and rebranded by the same in 1975. In 1983, Stripling's became Stripling & Cox as a result of a merger with Fort Worth-based Cox's. The store was shuttered in January 1986 and became a Dillard's Men's; the original Dillard's being refashioned into a Women's Store.

Rumblings about a second expansion of NORTH EAST MALL were being heard by the early 1990s. However, there was a problem with acquiring all of the land that would be necessary to enlarge the existing shopping center. It was decided to buy one hundred and twenty-seven homes comprising the Richland Park East neighborhood, which was situated southwest of the shopping hub.

Years of litigation with homeowners followed. By late 1998, 40 acres had been acquired and all homes demolished. The majority of land was not used for expansion of the mall, per se. A strip-format complex, THE SHOPS AT NORTH EAST MALL, took most of the parcel.

The first manifestation of the NORTH EAST MALL expansion project, which had been completed in 1996, enlarged the existing J.C. Penney into a 250,700 square foot location. Next came the construction of a 3-level (310,000 square foot) Dillard's. The store's dedication was held October 1, 1999. It anchored a South Wing of twenty stores.

Saks Fifth Avenue opened their 2-level (164,000 square foot) NORTH EAST MALL operation September 16, 2000. To accommodate part of the store structure, existing space in the North Wing had been torn out. On the West Wing, the old Stripling's / Dillard's Men's was demolished and replaced by a 2-level (142,400 square foot) Nordstrom, which was dedicated March 22, 2001.

The vacant Leonards / Dillard's Women's was partially demolished. The remaining space was divided between an enlarged Central Court, The Gap store and the Olympian University of Cosmetology (set up in the basement level). A 3-level (232,800 square foot), Houston-based Foley's adjoined the expanded court area. This store opened for business October 16, 2001.

On September 15, 2001, the remodeled mall was rededicated. It encompassed 1,749,000 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of one hundred and forty stores and services. The complex was now serviced by three new parking structures, with a fourth on the way.

NORTH EAST MALL was now the largest enclosed mall in the Metroplex, and the second-largest in the Lone Star State, following Houston's GALLERIA. The gala grand re-opening of NORTH EAST MALL was somewhat muted by the presence of a vacant anchor spot. Montgomery Ward had been shuttered the previous February.

There was talk of Lord & Taylor renovating and retenanting the space, but this never happened. Eventually, the building was knocked down, with its replacement, the Rave North East Mall 18 megaplex, showing its first features November 10, 2004. The removal of Ward's, and its replacement with Rave, adjusted the GLA of NORTH EAST MALL to 1,671,000 square feet...giving it 71,000 more square feet than its nearest (size-wise) competitor, GRAPEVINE MILLS.

Saks shuttered their NORTH EAST MALL location September 16, 2004. Pennsylvania-based Dick's Sporting Goods opened in the vacated space in November 2007. On September 9, 2006, the mall's Foley's was "Macy-ated".

Sources:

Mid-Cities Daily News
Fort Worth Star Telegram
Dallas Morning News
http://www.simon.com
Comment Post by "Pseudo3D"
www.simoncorporateoverview.com
www.hurst.gov


FAIR USE OF NORTH EAST MALL IMAGES:

The graphics renderings and photographs from The Mid-Cities Daily News illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.