CONESTOGA MALL
Tom Osbourne Expressway / US 281 and West 13th Street
Grand Island, Nebraska

The city of Grand Island lies 126 miles southwest of Omaha and 83 miles northwest of Lincoln, on the plains of Central Nebraska. In 1973, construction commenced at a 52.8 acre site, located 1.2 miles northwest of the Grand Island CBD.

CONESTOGA MALL was built by the Ericson Development Company of Edina, Minnesota. Originally envisaged as an x-shaped structure, the mall's layout had been changed to one based on a simple north-south concourse.

The fully-enclosed shopping center was anchored by a 2-level (80,000 square foot), Lincoln-based Miller & Paine and 1-level (60,000 square foot), Omaha-based J.L. Brandeis & Sons. These stores held "soft" openings in February 1974.

On March 6th, 1974, a grand opening ceremony was held at CONESTOGA MALL. Miller & Paine, Brandeis and eight inline stores were officially dedicated. By April 1975, a 1-level (58,300 square foot), Hastings-based J.M. McDonald (a.k.a. "McDonald's") was also in operation.

By this time, CONESTOGA MALL encompassed approximately 510,200 leasable square feet and contained thirty-three stores and services. The interior was decorated in a Western motif, with copper fountain sculptures, cacti and antique saddles. There were also recessed seating areas in Center Court and along the mall concourse.

Charter tenants included Hovland-Swanson ladies' wear, Sartor-Hamann Jewelers, Hastings Shop, Crabtree's Magnavox, Barrie Cheese House, World of Toys & Hobbies, Record Town and a freestanding Wells Fargo Bank.

A major expansion was underway by late 1978. A 1-level (72,000 square foot) Sears, anchoring an extended North Wing, opened its doors in 1979. Plans for a 1.5 million dollar J.C Penney had been announced in August.

This 1-level (56,800 square foot) store, constructed on the east side of the mall, was dedicated August 6, 1980. Adjacent to the new Penney's was the American Multi-Cinema Conestoga Four Theatres. This multiplex showed its first features in 1980. When all of the construction dust settled, CONESTOGA MALL spanned approximately 612,900 leasable square feet.

J.M. McDonald closed in 1982, with its area being divided into inline store spaces. At around the same time, Cleveland, Ohio's Richard E. Jacobs Group acquired the shopping complex.

Anchor rebrandings commenced August 5, 1987, when all Brandeis locations were rebranded by Iowa's Younkers chain. The three Miller & Paine stores were acquired by Dillard's, who assumed their operation on August 1, 1988.

There would not be any major changes to the mall for 10 years. Then, a (24,900 square foot) section of the old McDonald's space was reconfigured as a Staples Office Superstore. Equipped with only an exterior entry, it welcomed its first shoppers on August 8, 1998.

The Jacobs Group put the facility up for sale in August 1999. Denver's J. Herzog & Sons purchased it in December 2002. Herzog performed an interior face lift between 2005 and 2006, when the 1970s-vintage sunken seating areas were filled in.

Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas, now the operators of the Conestoga Four Theatres, were asked to perform a renovation and expansion on their motion picture venue. Carmike balked at the proposal.

Herzog & Sons then approached Kansas-based Dickinson Theatres, with a proposal for a state-of-the-art theatrical venue for the mall. The offer was accepted and work got underway in August 2003. The first features at the Dickinson Mall Stadium 7 were shown April 2, 2004. The existing Carmike Conestoga Four would continue operating until January 12, 2006.

Meanwhile, the Staples Superstore had shut down May 6, 2005. Minnesota's Best Buy leased the space. They renovated it with a new mallway entrance and opened in the fall of 2005. Kansas-based Showplex Cinemas assumed operation of the Mall Stadium 7 on May 28, 2010. In June 2017, Herzog & Sons sold CONESTOGA MALL to Great Neck, New York's Namdar Realty Group.

Sources:

The Grand Island Independent
Malls of America Blogspot / "Conestoga Mall" article / Post by "Anonymous"
http://city2.grand-island.com
www.jherzog.com
www.cinematreasures.org
www.nbcneb.com
Hall County, Nebraska property tax assessor website
http://www.shopconestogamall.com