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, 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 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, WESTGATE CENTER 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 / MALL {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 the mall 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. A renovation of the mall, into a fully-enclosed and climate-controlled structure, was undertaken in 1968, with the project being completed in 1969. The complex was known henceforth as WESTGATE MALL.

Kroger closed in 1970 and was replaced by the Westgate Mall Cinema City, a 4-screen venue. It showed its first features June 30, 1971 and closed in June 1988. Its mall space became the Promenade Food Court in late 1988. The Cinema City venue was replaced by the Westgate Mall 6, which opened for business June 3, 1989. This theater was built as an outparcel in the mall's east parking area. It was shuttered January 16, 2006.

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. However, Dillard's (who -along with Edward J. DeBartolo- had purchased the Higbee's chain in 1988) established full ownership of Higbee's in mid-July 1992.

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 MALL was also rebranded by Dillard's and made into a Men's and Children's store. An outparcel Higbee's Home Store was also taken over by Dillard's in August 1992.

Although WESTGATE MALL had had a facelift renovation in 1984, by the mid-1990s, it was showing its age. The proliferation of newer and larger shopping malls in the Cleveland suburbs was providing more competition than the 50-year-old shopping center could withstand. Even a 1-level (94,500 square foot), Wisconsin-based Kohls, dedicated in the summer of 1996, could not stop the mall's downward trajectory.

By 2004, the end was near. The WESTGATE MALL Dillard's stores were struggling, with the Home Store (in the old Higbee's Home spot) 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.

In February 2006, the mall and outparcel 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 previously-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 the following November.

The new WESTGATE was 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, New Excel Realty Trust was acquired by the Australia-based Centro Property Group.

Centro's United States holdings were sold to New York City-based 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.