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 1972, construction commenced on a 52.8 acre site, located 1.2 miles northwest of the Grand Island Central Business District.

Built by Edina, Minnesota's Ericson Development Company, CONESTOGA MALL was originally envisaged as an x-shaped structure. By the time construction got underway, the plan had been revised into one based on a simple north-south concourse.

The fully-enclosed shopping hub was officially dedicated in March 1974. It encompassed approximately 510,200 leasable square feet. Anchoring the complex were a 2-level (121,000 square foot), Lincoln-based Miller & Paine, 1-level (60,000 square foot), Omaha-based J.L. Brandeis & Sons and 1-level (58,300 square foot), Grand Island-based J.M. McDonald.

The interior of mall was decorated in a Western motif, with copper fountain sculptures, cacti and old saddles. There were 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. The American Multi-cinema Corporation Conestoga Four Theatres was in operation by 1975.

Plans for a 1.5 million dollar J.C Penney were announced in August 1979. This 1-level (56,800 square foot) store, dedicated August 6, 1980, was completed soon after a 1-level (72,000 square foot) Sears. The complex now encompassed a total of 612,900 leasable square feet.

Cleveland, Ohio's Richard E. Jacobs Group acquired CONESTOGA MALL in the early 1980s. By this time, J.M. McDonald had closed, with its area having been divided into inline store spaces. Anchor rebrandings commenced August 5, 1987, when all Brandeis locations in the state were rebranded by Iowa's Younkers chain. In the following year, the three Miller & Paine stores were acquired by Dillard's.

There would not be any major changes at the mall until a portion of the old J.M. McDonald space opened, as a Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples Office Superstore, August 8, 1998. The CONESTOGA MALL location had an exterior entryway, with no connection into the mall corridor.

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 facelift between 2005 and 2006, when the 1970s-vintage sunken seating areas were filled in.

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

Lenexa, Kansas-based Dickinson Theatres were approached by Herzog, with an offer to install a state-of-the-art theatrical venue at CONESTOGA MALL. The offer was accepted and work got underway on the new Dickinson Mall Stadium 7 Cinemas in August 2003.

Two inline stores, Coach House Gifts and Golf USA were displaced by the construction. The first features were shown April 2, 2004. The existing Carmike Conestoga Four would be in operation until January 12, 2006.

The most recent changes at CONESTOGA MALL involve the Staples Superstore and 7-plex cinema. Staples shut down in May 2005. Minnesota's Best Buy leased the space, renovated it and opened in the following fall. An inline store to the east had been gutted and made into an interior mall entrance. On May 28, 2010, Overland Park, Kansas-based Showplex Cinemas rebranded the Mall Stadium 7.

Sources:

The Grand Island Independent
Malls of America Blogspot / "Conestoga Mall" article / Post by "Anonymous"
http://city2.grand-island.com
www.jherzog.com (J. Herzog & Sons, Incorporated)
Hall County, Nebraska property tax assessor website
http://www.shopconestogamall.com