Developed by Isadore Gudelsky, an entrepreneur who amassed large land tracts funded by his families' Laurel Contee Sand and Gravel Company. It was considered to be the first regional mall in the Washington, D.C., area, and was the largest until the Lerner-Gudelsky development Tysons Corner Center opened in 1968. The 80 acre fruit stand and farm property on Viers Mill Road was purchased in 1954 by six investors which included Gudelsky, and Theodore N. Lerner, who took charge of leases. Wheaton Plaza was the site of the 1975 disappearance of the Lyon Sisters, whose case was never solved.
The old Hecht's department store
In 1974, a plan to enclose the mall was initiated. The seven year delay to enclose the mall and anchor expansion by business partner Lerner who also had interests in nearby White Flint Mall caused a $30 million lawsuit between partners. and a new wing, anchored by Hecht's, was built in 1987. Target replaced Montgomery Ward after the latter chain ceased operations.
In 2005, the service tunnel beneath the mall was converted to retail space, and Macy's opened a new store, shortly before Macy's owner Federated Department Stores purchased Hecht's owner May Department Stores. The Hecht's store was closed after the May-Federated merger. Temporary anchor IFL Furniture took over the Hecht's location in 2006, and closed in March 2008. DSW Shoe Warehouse opened in the mall in November 2008. In 2010, Costco announced that it would build a new store on the site of the vacant Hecht's; Costco opened in April 2013, in a new building that also contains a Dick's Sporting Goods.
^Feinberg, Samuel. What makes shopping centers tick? p.10 (Fairchild Publications 1960)("Wheaton Plaza, Wheaton, Md., opened 15 of its planned 75 stores in February 1960. Total store space will be 1,100,000 square feet (100,000 m2). A Woodward & Lothrop store of 162,000 square feet (15,100 m2) and a Wards of 235,000 square feet (21,800 m2) are the principal tenants. Parking is provided for 5,300 cars.")
^"Area Developer Gudelsky Dead". The Washington Post. 18 December 1963.
^"Gudelsky, Lerner Built Center; Had a 'Feeling for Real Estate': Developer By Chance". The Washington Post. 30 March 1960.
^"Wheaton Plaza Partners Sue Developer Theodore Lerner: Wheaton Plaza Shopping Mall Partners Sue Developer Theodore Lerner for $30 Million". The Washington Post. 7 June 1995.