Westland Mall (Columbus)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
|Opening date||1969 (enclosed 1983)|
|Developer||Richard E. Jacobs Group|
|Management||Cyndi L. Perkins, General Manager|
|Owner||The Krone Group, LLC|
|Total retail floor area||860,000 ft²|
|No. of floors||1 (2 in anchors)|
As of November 2012, Westland Mall was reported as closed to all traffic, pending redevelopment of the property.
Westland Mall opened in February 1969 as an open-air shopping center. The original anchor stores were Lazarus, Sears, and JC Penney, as well as Woolworth which acted as a secondary anchor. The Lazarus store, the chain's first suburban operation, had opened as a free-standing location in 1962. The Sears and JC Penney were built, along with the mall, in 1967-1969, and the Lazarus was also expanded at that time. The mall was enclosed sometime in 1982.
The Sears store was constructed as a two-story building, as were the other two anchors, but only the main floor is currently utilized as retail space; the upper level was closed off to customers at some point during the 1980s. At one point the upper level was used as office space for Discover when it was still under Sears ownership.
Westland was one of four directionally-named shopping centers in Columbus, along with Northland (the original mall in Columbus, closed in 2002 and demolished in 2004), Eastland (still in operation), and Southland (a smaller discount-style mall, now closed). All but Southland were constructed and originally operated by the Richard E. Jacobs Group, and featured the same mix of anchor stores.
Although considered a major landmark in the Columbus area, Westland Mall faced many challenges towards the end of the 20th century that would eventually see it lose its status as a premier shopping destination for the city's far west side. It was negatively affected by the opening of the nearby Mall at Tuttle Crossing in 1997, which attracted many customers that may have otherwise shopped at Westland. In particular, JCPenney abandoned Westland for Tuttle, giving the latter a perceived edge; the move gave Tuttle four anchor stores while reducing Westland to two. The Woolworth store, which closed with most of the chain in 1997, became a Staples that closed off the portion of the store that connected to the mall; the interior-facing portion became a Footaction USA. Other major stores, such as Express and The Limited, also left Westland, motivated both by shifting economic fortunes in Columbus as well as an increase in crime around the Westland area. After its enclosure in 1982, Westland never saw another major renovation despite both of its sister malls, Northland and Eastland, receiving facelifts in the early 1990s, and the increasingly dated look of the shopping center also worked against its attracting shoppers and major retailers as time went on.
Kashani, a developer which also owned North Towne Square in Toledo, Ohio at the time, bought the mall in 2003 and attempted to reposition Westland as a "bazaar"-style mall with a number of specialty shops (including a used bookstore, several arts and crafts dealers, and a karate school, among others) added to Westland's few remaining chain stores. The Lazarus store was converted to Lazarus-Macy's in 2003, and subsequently to Macy's in 2005; this store was closed in 2007, leaving Sears as the sole remaining anchor. By that point virtually all of the newer stores added under Kashani ownership had also closed, leaving only a small handful of storefronts operating in a virtually empty mall.
By 2010, Westland Mall contained fewer than 15 active businesses; at one time it housed approximately 80. The only remaining national retailers were Sears (which was also the last remaining original mall tenant), Finish Line, Champs Sports, GNC, and Staples; the latter, as noted earlier, lacked direct mall access. The remainder of operating storefronts were small, bazaar-style shops, eateries, and a local branch of the Franklin County Sheriff's office. For much of the late 2000s, it was an example of a "dead mall" that remained completely open to the public (aside from the closed storefronts) and still retained one major anchor.
Current use and future plans
Although Westland Mall itself is now closed, the structure still stands as of May 2013 and parts of it are still in use, most notably the Sears and Staples stores.
The former JCPenney store is now used for community events hosted by the mall, including about six gun shows per year.
In 2008, home-improvement retailer Menards made plans to expand into the Columbus market, with a store proposed for Westland Mall (which would have been constructed as part of a planned redevelopment of the mall property and several surrounding sites as an open-air "lifestyle center"). However, in December of that year, Menards announced they were putting its expansion plans on hold due to the general economic downturn at that time.
In 2012, a new Hollywood Casino was constructed and opened near the site of Westland Mall, spurring new growth in the surrounding area, which had become severely economically depressed. The current owner of Westland Mall suggested that he was working with county officials on possible redevelopment options for the property, but indicated that whatever is decided, it likely "won't be a mall any longer." An announcement about the future of the site is expected to come in 2013.
- Sears (176,917 sq ft.)
- Lazarus 1962–2005 [predates mall; rebranded as Lazarus-Macy's in 2003, Macy's in 2005] (211,740 sq ft.)
- JC Penney 1969–2001 (104,832 sq ft.)
- Woolworths 1969-1999
- Showalter, Kathy (3 March 2003). "New owners poised to revive Westland". Columbus Business First. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Ferenchik, Mark. "Menards puts Westland store on hold". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- Bowersock, Mike (2012-08-23). "Development Explodes Around Columbus Casino". NBC4i.com. Retrieved 2012-11-05.