North Citrus Street and East Workman Avenue
West Covina, California

Los Angeles County's first freeway-friendly shopping mall was built on a 49-acre parcel, located 22.5 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, in suburban West Covina. The site was adjacent to a newly-opened stretch of the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10).

Originally open-air in format, EASTLAND CENTER was designed by Albert C. Martin and developed by a joint venture of Beverly Hills-based J.K. Eichenbaum & Associates and May Centers of St. Louis. It comprised 671,000 leasable square feet, with a 4-level (365,000 square foot) May Company California as its anchor.

"May's Eastland" opened September 16, 1957 and was built in the grandest of ultra-modern style. A contemporary write-up described the following features; dramatic exterior design, bright, contemporary interior decor, sleek, silent escalators and elevators and complete air-conditioning of the interior spaces. A fallout shelter was accessed via the basement of the store.

The mall at EASTLAND CENTER was oriented on 2 levels. An Upper Level was accessed from the north parking area. The "Lower Esplanade" ran beneath Upper Level stores and faced, toward the south, onto a lower parking area.

Twenty-seven stores opened, with much fanfare, on October 24, 1957. By mid-1958, there were a total of fifty-four in operation. These included W.T. Grant, Longs Drugs, Bond Clothes, Clifton's Cafeteria, Comar's Children's Shoes, Harris & Frank men's wear, See's Candies, Zukor's ladies' wear and (28,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. A freestanding convenience center, known as Avenue Shops, was situated in the northwest parking area. Its (50,000 square foot) Hiram's Market grocery store gave Blue Chip trading stamps with all purchases.

Land surrounding EASTLAND CENTER was developed over the following decade. The Huddle Restaurant opened in 1958. There were also two freestanding entertainment facilities. The single-screen Sanborn Theatres Eastland Theatre made its debut, with an appearance by Jayne Mansfield, on November 15, 1961. The Carousel Theatre In The Round, a live-performance venue, held its grand opening September 7, 1965.

The first major EASTLAND competitor was WEST COVINA CENTER {2.3 miles southwest, also in West Covina}. This strip complex opened in 1952 and was rebuilt as WEST COVINA FASION PLAZA in 1973. Next in line was PUENTE ["Poo-in-tay"] HILLS MALL {5.8 miles southwest, in the City Of Industry} and SANTA ANITA FASHION PARK {10 miles northwest, in Arcadia}; both of these complexes being dedicated in 1974.

May Centers, owner and developer of EASTLAND, morphed into CentreMark Properties in 1972. By the late '70s, the upper mall of EASTLAND was being fully-enclosed. At the same time, a 2-level (80,000 square foot) Mervyn's was being built. This store held its grand opening on August 13, 1979. The new air-conditioned mallway featured skylights, Ficus trees, flowering chrysanthemums and tiled floors. It was officially dedicated on November 2, 1979.

An enclosed EASTLAND CENTER prospered during the 1980s, but was in a state of decline by the early 1990s. PLAZA AT WEST COVINA (a recent reconfiguration of WEST COVINA FASHION PLAZA) was now the dominant mall in the trade area. The once-grand "May's Eastland" was shuttered January 30, 1993, with a new Robinsons-May store opening, at PLAZA AT WEST COVINA, in October.

EASTLAND was one of nineteen CentreMark properties sold to a joint venture in November 1993. The group included Australia's Westfield, Des Moines' General Growth Properties and New York City's Whitehall Street Real Estate Limited Partnership.

The joint venture divided up management of the malls, with Westfield's share including EASTLAND CENTER. They announced a plan to demall the complex. The upper level would be gutted and rebuilt into four big box-type stores. Mervyn's, on the west end, would remain as is. The vacant May Company, on the east end, would be demolished.

Lower Level space had been converting to big box-type retailers since the 1980s. A (26,400 square foot) Office Depot set up shop in the lower floor of a vacant W.T. Grant, with a (34,500 square foot) Marshalls and (26,500 square foot) Ross Dress For Less eventually moving into adjacent Lower Level space. Tenants such as Mervyn's, Office Depot, Ross and Marshalls, remained open, in spite of the demalling. 

More stores opened. An (18,700 square foot) Old Navy was dedicated in August 1996. A vertically-stacked anchor box, occupying the old May Company spot, contained a (133,500 square foot) Target on its upper floor and (100,000 square foot) Burlington Coat Factory on the lower. Target welcomed its first shoppers on October 6, 1996, with Burlington Coat Factory being dedicated in October 1997.

Filling out the EASTLAND CENTER tenant list were a (37,900 square foot) Babies "R" Us, (42,500 square foot) Bed, Bath & Beyond and (48,500 square foot) Chick's Sporting Goods. The Avenue Shops convenience center had also been renovated. It featured an Albertsons supermarket, Longs Drugs and fifteen smaller retailers.

A (32,500 square foot) Club Disney, an indoor children's play center, was built as a freestanding structure, adjacent to the Target-Burlington Coat Factory. It was dedicated in February 1998. In November, the 783,000 square foot retail center was renamed WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN EASTLAND. In June 2005, the name was truncated to WESTFIELD EASTLAND.

Over the years, some EASTLAND stores changed nameplates. Chick's became Dick's Sporting Goods. Loehmann's morphed into a Levitz Furniture, which was shuttered in 2008. Mervyn's went dark in December 2008. Circuit City, which had assumed the Club Disney spot in the year 2000, also vacated in 2008. The building was sectioned into four retail spaces.

One of these was configured as a (17,800 square foot) PetSmart, which opened June 27, 2011. Habit Burger and Pacific Fish Grill began business in May and July of the same year. An (11,200 square foot) Dollar Tree welcomed its first shoppers on September 23, 2011.

Westfield sold the "non-core property" to Phoenix-based Cole Real Estate Investment in May 2012. On November 14, WalMart opened a store in the complex, known -once again- as EASTLAND CENTER. The 2-level (120,000 square foot) WalMart had been installed in vacant spaces previously leased by Mervyn's and Levitz Furniture. 


The Los Angeles Times
The Star News (Pasadena, California)
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Information and photos from Jeff Arellano
Los Angeles County tax assessor website
http://eastlandwc.blogspot.com / "Eastland Center- West Covina- 1957-1970s"
www.westfield.com / The Westfield Group
Kara Glover Charles / Phoenix.com