WESTGATE CENTER
Center Ridge Road and West 210th Street
Fairview Park and Rocky River, Ohio

The first shopping mall in Greater Cleveland -as well as Ohio- was developed by a joint venture of Anthony Visconsi and B.L. Boykin & Son. New York City's Raymond Loewy Associates and Fordyce, Hamby, Strobel & Panero designed the structure.

WESTGATE CENTER was situated on a 55 acre parcel, located 8.5 miles southwest of Cleveland's Public Square. The northern quarter of the site had been occupied by the Fairview Outdoor Theatre, a drive-in cinema, between 1947 and 1952.

The first operational WESTGATE CENTER store, a 3-level (140,000 square foot), Cleveland based Halle Brothers Company, opened its doors February 2, 1954. A 2-level (140,000 square foot), Dearborn, Michigan-based Federal's was dedicated, along with the mall, April 1, 1954.

Encompassing 511,000 leasable square feet, the open-air complex housed forty-nine stores and services. These included Turney Hardware, Winkelman's ladies' wear, Gray Drug, a Stouffer's Restaurant, S. S. Kresge 5 & 10 and two supermarkets; Kroger and Pick 'N Pay.

WESTGATE was joined by PARMATOWN CENTER {8 miles southeast, in Parma} in 1960, and GREAT NORTHERN MALL {4.5 miles southwest, in North Olmstead} in 1976.

The Federal's department store moved out of WESTGATE in 1960. Cleveland-based Higbee's enlarged the store into a 160,700 square foot operation and re-opened in the space October 2, 1961. This store was the chain's first suburban branch.

By 1968, a roofing renovation was underway that was completed in 1969. The shopping complex was known, henceforth, as WESTGATE MALL.

Kroger closed in 1970 and was replaced by the General Cinema Corporation Westgate Mall Cinema City. This 4-screen venue showed its first features June 30, 1971. Later on, a freestanding venue was built in the mall's east parking area. The General Cinema Corporation Westgate Mall 6 was officially dedicated June 3, 1986. The Cinema City theater had closed by this time. The Promenade Food Court was built in its vacant area, which opened in late 1988.

Cleveland's Richard E. Jacobs Group  acquired WESTGATE MALL in 1984. Meanwhile, Halle's (which had vacated its store space in 1982) re-opened as a Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company. In June 1992, there were reports that Horne's stores at GREAT LAKES MALL, SEVERANCE TOWN CENTER and WESTGATE MALL would re-open as second Higbee's locations. This never happened.

The WESTGATE Horne's closed July 12, 1992 and re-opened, as a Dillard's Women's, in August. The former Higbee's at WESTGATE was also rebranded by Dillard's and made into a Men's 7 Children's store. An outparcel Higbee's Home Store was also rebranded by Dillard's in August 1992.

WESTGATE MALL had a face lift renovation in 1984. By the mid-1990s, the complex was showing its age. The proliferation of newer and larger shopping hubs in the Cleveland suburbs was providing more competition than the 50-year-old shopping center could withstand. A 1-level (94,500 square foot), Wisconsin-based Kohls was dedicated in the summer of 1996. It failed to halt the mall's downward trajectory.

By 2004, the end was near. The WESTGATE MALL Dillard's were struggling, with the Home Store being shuttered. The two department stores were consolidated into the larger Halle's / Horne's building (the north anchor).

However, on March 31, 2005, Dillard's pulled out of the mall entirely. The multiplex cinema had been rebranded as an American Multi-Cinema venue in mid-2002. It was shuttered in January 2006.

In February 2006, the mall and cinema were demolished, leaving only the 9-year-old Kohl's, and a few peripheral structures, standing. Work soon got underway on a new, open-air power center, known as simply WESTGATE.

This 618,900 square foot complex was anchored by the existing Kohl's. A 1-level (127,000 square foot) Target opened July 25, 2007. The third destination store, a 1-level (119,700 square foot) Lowe's, was dedicated in the following November.

The new WESTGATE had been developed by a joint venture of the Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group, New York City-based New Excel Realty Trust and Chicago-based Transwestern Investment Company.

In February 2007, the New Excel Realty Trust was acquired by Australia's Centro Property Group. Centro's United States holdings were sold to New York City's Blackstone Real Estate Partners in June 2011. A new entity, the Brixmor Property Group, was created in September 2011.

The WESTGATE complex was sold to Chicago's Inland Real Estate Corporation in March 2012. Today, their southwest Cleveland property houses forty-six stores and services.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Comment Post by "Anonymous"
http://cinematreasures.org
http://www.westgateohio.com
http://www.centro.com.au
http://www.ulib.csuohio.edu


WESTGATE AND HALLE'S IMAGES:

From the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection / Repository: United States Library Of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. / Taken by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., March 1954 / Raymond Loewy - Client / Photographs are in the public domain: no known restrictions on publication / www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html

 FAIR USE OF HIGBEE'S IMAGES:

The images from the Cleveland State University Library illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. 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.