El Con Mall

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El Con Mall
Location Tucson, Arizona, United States
Opening date 1960
Developer Joseph Kivel and the Papanikolas brothers
No. of stores and services 20
No. of anchor tenants 7
Total retail floor area 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 m2) (GLA)[1]
No. of floors 1
Website http://www.shopelcon.com/

El Con Center is an open air shopping center in the city of Tucson, Arizona, United States. Originally opened in 1960 as an outdoor shopping center, it is the oldest shopping mall in the Tucson area. It features J. C. Penney, Ross Dress For Less, Target, Burlington Coat Factory, Century Theatres and The Home Depot as its anchor stores. An additional anchor space, last occupied by Macy's, became a Walmart in the fall of 2013.


El Con Mall opened in 1960 as the first mall in Tucson, Arizona,[2] adjacent to the El Conquistador Hotel.[3] Although initial plans called for the hotel to be part of the mall itself, these plans were later scrapped.[3][4] An outdoor mall at the time of its opening, El Con Mall was anchored by the local department store Levy's,[5] and chain stores Montgomery Ward and Woolworth.[6] In 1967, the former El Conquistador Hotel space was demolished, and a new Levy's store was built on its site. Steinfeld's moved from its historic Stone and Pennington downtown location into Levy's former store at the shopping center's NE corner. New Goldwater's (1978) and J. C. Penney (1971) stores were built along a connecting link, and the mall was enclosed. Joseph Kivel and the Papanikolas brothers developed the El Con Mall. Joseph Kivel later opened another shopping mall, what is now Park Place, in 1975. After his death in 1995, his interest in both malls was left to his two sons. In 1996, Park Mall was sold to General Growth Properties.

Steinfeld's closed, and became a winter-time-only soup kitchen in 1984, & the Pavilion Food Court in 1993. Levy's (which was owned by Federated Department Stores) became Sanger-Harris in 1985,[3] marking the first of several name changes in the mall's western anchor store. Sanger-Harris became Foley's in 1987, and Robinsons-May in 1993. Goldwater's, in turn, became Dillard's in 1989. Woolworth's closed in 1993.


El Con Mall is still owned by the heirs of its original developers, Joseph Kivel and the Papanikolas brothers. Following the elder Kivel's demise in 1995, and the deaths of the Papanikolas brothers, their descendants began renovations on the mall.[4] A multiplex movie theater and food court were both added behind J. C. Penney, although no restaurants were ever opened in the food court.[4] Additional plans promised "a unique variety of retail stores", but competition from larger malls, most notably Park Place, caused El Con to lose more stores than it gained.[7] Dillard's closed on May 9, 2000. It had decided to when Park Mall's Dillard's got a new building.[8] Montgomery Ward was renamed Wards in 1997. In mid-1998 the entire northeast wing of the mall (including The Pavilion Food Court) was demolished.

In 2001, Montgomery Ward closed along with the company's bankruptcy. The Home Depot (2001) and Target (2003) were built on the east side of the mall, with the latter replacing Montgomery Ward, Don Juan's Tacos, Chinese Combo Express (formerly Docktor Pet Center), some mall space, as well as some parking space. The addition of these stores was considered controversial by local residents, many of whom did not want such big box retailers in the area.[9][10] Neither Target nor The Home Depot is directly accessible from within the mall itself.[8]

Although many retailers and restaurants opened on the mall's periphery in the 2000s, the enclosed mall itself continued to lose tenants.[8] In 2005, May Department Stores (then owners of the Robinsons-May name) was acquired by Macy's, Inc., and most May Department Stores nameplates were converted to the Macy's name. The Macy's store in El Con Mall was deemed unprofitable, and was closed in 2008,[11] shortly after the addition of a Ross Dress For Less store in the Macy's wing. Later in 2008, it was announced that Wal-Mart might move into the former Macy's, (plans have now been confirmed it will, but have a new building). In November 2009, Burlington Coat Factory announced it would open a new store at El Con Mall in the former Dillard's space. The store opened on March 5, 2010. As of September 21st, 2011 the mall building that once housed small stores was demolished and a pathway was built for access.


  1. ^ International Council of Shopping Centers: El Con Mall, accessed February 18, 2007
  2. ^ Hart, Kelli (2007-05-24). "Signs of Life: Could burgers and cheap clothes be El Con's salvation?". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Jeff (2007-11-02). "Smith : When El Con (the hotel) was mighty". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  4. ^ a b c Poole, B. (2007-09-23). "Deserted core of El Con Mall may be razed". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  5. ^ Levy Peachin, Mary (2011-03-26). "My Family Memories: Wal-Mart Steps into a Storied Footprint". Desert Leaf. Retrieved 2011-05-11. p53
  6. ^ "El Con Mall needs to return to its roots". Arizona Daily Star. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  7. ^ Denogean, Anne T. (2005-11-10). "El Gone Mall". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  8. ^ a b c Dillingham, Justyn (2008-01-24). "Ghost of a Mall". The Arizona Daily Wildcat. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  9. ^ Huff, Dan (2000-01-27). "Walkout On Walkup". Tucson Weekly.com. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  10. ^ Franzi, Emil (1999-02-24). "El Con's Owners Pushed Their Neighbors Too Hard, And Tucson's City Council Punched 'Em Back.". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  11. ^ Poole, B. (2007-10-31). "Macy's confirms it will leave El Con Mall". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 

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Coordinates: 32°13′25″N 110°55′0″W / 32.22361°N 110.91667°W / 32.22361; -110.91667