RIDGEWAY CENTER
Summer and 6th Streets
Stamford, Connecticut

Alphons Bach migrated from Berlin to New York City in 1926. In 1932, he established an industrial design firm and soon became recognized for his tubular steel furniture creations. A move to suburban Stamford, Connecticut was done in 1937.

At the end of the second World War, Bach entered the realm of real estate development. A 15 acre site lying .8 mile north of Stamford's center city was to become the first regional shopping center in Connecticut.

Designed by Bach, the first phase of the motor age merchandising mecca opened for business March 2, 1947 and enveloped 110,000 leasable square feet. Tenants included W.J. Sloan (opened October 1948), Pennsylvania Drug (May 1949), Deena's, The Lurie Company, Chizzini, a Slenderella Figure Salon and liquor store.

Construction commenced on a second phase in February 1950. This would add a 6-story Professional Building, 3-level (72,000 square foot) Sears and single-screen cinema. This venue, originally known as the Harry Brandt Ridgeway Theatre, showed its first feature August 31, 1951.

The third -and final- construction phase entailed the addition of a 2-level (37,000 square foot) Saks 34th Street store. This opened for business April 29, 1958. RIDGEWAY CENTER now encompassed over 300,000 leasable square feet and housed forty-five stores and services. Its bi-level parking lot accommodated 1,000 autos.

By the mid-1970s, the shopping center included a mall within a mall, known as 40 Boutiques. The RIDGEWAY CENTER Saks had been rebranded as a Gimbels in October 1965. This store was shuttered in 1986 with its space re-opening, as a Hartford-based Sage-Allen, November 12 of the same year.

A major competitor had come on the scene with the completion of STAMFORD TOWN CENTER (a downtown redevelopment mall) in 1982. By the early 1990s, RIDGEWAY CENTER was described by the New York Times as a "hodgepodge of lackluster architecture punctuated with vacant stores".

Sage-Allen was shuttered in December 1992. Grand Central Market vacated their basement level store at around the same time. The Sage-Allen space sat vacant for nearly a year. Marshalls moved in in late 1993.

A redevelopment of RIDGEWAY CENTER was proposed in 1993 but did not get underway until 1997. The renovation and repositioning was conducted by a joint venture of White Plains, New York-based Street Works and Greenwich, Connecticut-based Charter Realty & Development.

Sears closed in early 1996. Marshalls moved, temporarily, into the upper level of the vacant Sears. The Saks / Sage-Allen / Marshalls structure was demolished and replaced with a larger building. This housed several big box-type retailers.

A (47,000 square foot) Bed, Bath & Beyond and (10,000 square foot) Party City occupied ground level space. The Upper Level contained a (27,000 square foot) Michaels and (33,800 square foot) Marshalls. In the new building's basement was a (60,000 square foot) A Stop & Shop supermarket.

The old Sears space, in the East Wing, was subdivided three ways. A (15,000 square foot) Old Navy and (6,700 square foot) Dress Barn set up shop in its ground level, with a (19,000 square foot) Modell's Sporting Goods being installed in the upper floor.

Office space was downsized and the entirety of the complex fitted with new brick facades, pitched roofs and spans of glass. A multilevel parking garage was also built in the northwest corner of the site.

The renewed RIDGEWAY CENTER was dedicated in May 1998 and enveloped 350,500 square feet of retail stores and office suites. There were now thirty-seven tenants, including Staples, CVS Drug and LA Fitness (which moved into the old cinema).

Greenwich, Connecticut's Urstadt Biddle properties bought an interest in RIDGEWAY CENTER in June 2002. In January 2011, they established full ownership of the property.

Sources:

The New York Times
The Pentwater (Michigan) News
The Norwalk Hour
Comment posts by "Anonymous"
The (Bridgeport) Sunday Herald
www.cinematreasures.org
http://movie-theatre.org
http://www.permutterproperties.com
http://www.ubproperties.com (Urstadt Biddle Properties)


FAIR USE OF RIDGEWAY CENTER IMAGES:

The graphics from The (Bridgeport) Sunday Herald 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.