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 1,200 seat Ridgeway Theatre. These were completed in August 1951.

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

By the mid-1970s, the shopping center included a mall within a mall, of sorts, 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, shuttered in December 1992, being one of these. The store space sat vacant for nearly a year. Marshalls moved in in late 1993.

A redevelopment of the past its prime property was proposed in 1993 but did not get underway until 1997. The renovation and repositioning project was conducted via a joint venture of White Plains, New York-based Street Works and Greenwich, Connecticut-based Charter Realty & Development.

Grand Central Market had vacated a basement store in late 1992. Sears closed in 1996. Marshalls moved, temporarily, into the upper level of the vacant Sears. The Saks / Gimbels / Sage-Allen / Marshalls structure was demolished and replaced with a larger building.

This would house several big box-type retailers. Bed, Bath & Beyond (47,000 square feet) and Party City (10,000 square feet) were in ground level space. Michaels (27,000 square feet) and Marshalls (33,800 square feet) were situated in an Upper Level. A Stop & Shop supermarket (60,000 square feet) occupied the basement below.

Moreover, the old Sears spot was subdivided three ways. Old Navy and Dress Barn set up shop in its ground level, with Modell's Sporting Goods being installed in the 19,000 square foot upper level (where Marshalls had set up a temporary store in 1996). 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
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.