Westdale Mall in 2006
|Location||Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States|
|Opening date||October 4, 1979|
|Closing date||March 31, 2014|
|Developer||The Hahn Company|
|Management||Frew Development Group|
|Owner||A. Shapiro, LLC|
|No. of stores and services||1|
|No. of anchor tenants||2 (+2 vacant)|
|Total retail floor area||854,000 ft² (79,000 m²)|
|No. of floors||2|
Westdale Mall was an enclosed super-regional shopping mall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The two-level mall on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids is one of the city's two enclosed malls, along with Lindale Mall on the city's northeast side. In recent years, Westdale has taken on some characteristics of a dead mall as two of its four anchor stores and an estimated 70 percent of inline stores have been vacated as of January 2013. At the beginning of 2013, local investor group A. Shapiro LLC purchased Westdale Mall. In January 2013, Frew Development Group, LLC leased the mall and its property from A. Shapiro, LLC. Frew Development is investing $90 million into the redevelopment of the mall.
Planning and construction
Plans for Westdale Mall were first announced on March 29, 1972. Original plans called for a 560,000-square-foot (52,000 m2) mall with two or three anchor stores and 30 to 50 smaller stores on 66 acres (270,000 m2) of land. Later that year, developer Ernest W. Hahn of The Hahn Company acquired the mall's property from Midwest Development of Cedar Rapids and Dial Realty of Omaha, Nebraska. In 1974, Hahn asked the Cedar Rapids City Council to rezone an additional 21 acres (85,000 m2) of land from residential to commercial use. An organization of citizens known as "Taxpayers for Sensible Planning" opposed the rezoning, claiming that construction of a larger mall would have a severe impact on existing businesses in the Cedar Rapids area. Despite the opposition, the City Council approved the rezoning by a 4-1 vote on May 22, 1974. The recession of 1974 delayed the start of construction until May 1976 and a seven-week electricians' strike delayed the mall's opening to October 4, 1979.
Despite the construction problems and layoffs in Cedar Rapids' manufacturing sector during the recession of 1980, Westdale Mall was at 93 percent capacity with 114 stores by the beginning of 1981. Westdale attracted shoppers from counties throughout eastern Iowa and surrounding states, including cities such as Davenport and Waterloo that already had enclosed malls.
For the citizens of Cedar Rapids living at the time, the history of Westdale Mall can't be told without mentioning the tragic murder of Michelle Martinko. About 4:17 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1979 , police discovered her body in her car in the parking lot at Westdale Mall. The John F. Kennedy High School senior had been stabbed to death in the family Buick. The case shook Cedar Rapids, and never has been solved. Martinko was last seen at Westdale Mall that evening at 9:00 p.m. She had been shopping for a new coat, but couldn't find the store her mother had told her about. The money she had in her purse, 180 dollars, and the jewelry she was wearing were untouched and she had not been sexually assaulted. The killer stabbed her 27 times in the face and chest, but left behind DNA which was discovered with new technology in 2006. The CRPD is looking for a male who cut his hand during the attack. Some locals believe this murder cast a pall over Westdale which has never lifted.
Anchor and ownership changes
JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, Younkers, and Brandeis signed on as anchors before construction of Westdale Mall began, but Brandeis withdrew from the mall while its store was still under construction. Wards and JCPenney, which both relocated from downtown Cedar Rapids, were the first two anchor stores to open while Younkers and Petersen Harned Von Maur (Brandeis' replacement) opened in 1980. Wards closed in early 2001 as the chain ceased operations, and the anchor space remained vacant for more than four years until Steve & Barry's opened there in November 2005. On January 31, 2007, Von Maur closed its Westdale Mall store due to a decline in business and offered its 80 employees positions at its Lindale Mall and Iowa City locations. That anchor space remains vacant. Steve and Barry's closed in November 2008 due to the chain's bankruptcy, leaving Westdale with only two anchors at the beginning of 2010.
Westdale Mall was built by The Hahn Company, which became TrizecHahn in 1980; TrizecHahn sold Westdale to The Rouse Company in April 1998. The Festival Companies of Los Angeles, California, took over management of Westdale in November 2004. Shortly after that, Festival announced a $20 million renovation plan that would expand the mall and add a new food court. However, those plans never materialized as tenants continued to leave the mall amid competition from Coral Ridge Mall 20 miles (32 km) to the south. In November 2006, Westdale was placed in administrative receivership after H-N-W Associates, a part-owner of the mall, fell behind on its mortgage payments. Heritage Property Management of Cedar Rapids took over management of the mall at the time. In December 2006, General Growth Properties (owner of Coral Ridge Mall) took over the leasing duties for the mall. Westdale was sold to Cedar Rapids Properties, Inc., in a sheriff's sale on July 10, 2007. The former Steve & Barry's space, which was originally owned by Montgomery Ward when it was an anchor, was separately owned by California-based City Gate LP. General Growth handed the leasing duties over to Jones Lang LaSalle in mid-2010.
By March 2007, over 50% of the mall stores had closed. The Cedar Rapids City Council voted to delay any major redevelopment work at the mall for six months, in the hopes that whoever purchases the mall property does not break it apart. On May 9, 2007, the City Council voted 7-1 to lift the moratorium on a mostly vacant outparcel building that was originally built as an Econofoods supermarket and was more recently a Big Lots store; two local developers planned to reconfigure that building and build a Sonic Drive-In and T.G.I. Friday's on the property. However in September 2007 T.G.I. Friday's canceled its plans to open a restaurant at that location amid concerns that they would not make enough money there. Sonic also backed out of its plan to open a restaurant at that location shortly after that. The city council later reimposed the development moratorium before they unanimously agreed to set it aside on December 19, 2007. The Big Lots outparcel building was demolished in March 2010 to make room for Edgewood Station, a new 25,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) development that is expected to include at least two restaurants and a financial institution.
Flood of 2008 and aftermath
Some of Westdale Mall's empty stores had been used as temporary homes for city and Linn County offices in the aftermath of the Iowa flood of 2008. Disaster centers for the American Red Cross, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration were also set up at Westdale. After rejecting an $18.5 million offer to buy Westdale outright on January 21, 2009, the Linn County Board of Supervisors agreed to move their offices to the former Steve & Barry's space on February 11, 2009. In June 2010, Linn County signed a lease agreement to keep its "Linn County West" office complex at Westdale until at least February 2012. The Linn County offices that were housed at Westdale moved back to downtown Cedar Rapids in June 2012.
On February 9, 2009, the Cedar Rapids Public Library opened a temporary library known as "The Bridge" inside space that was formerly the home of an Osco Drug store at Westdale. "The Bridge" is serving as the main operations for the library, whose main branch downtown was heavily damaged by the flood, until a permanent decision on the library's future is made. The library announced plans to move its west-side branch from Westdale to a former Target store west of the mall in February 2012.
Sale and redevelopment plans
Investor group A. Shapiro LLC, an investor group led by local realtor Scott Byers, acquired Westdale Mall in a transaction that took effect on January 1, 2013. Leasing duties were handed over to the Denver-based Frew Development Group as part of the sale. A. Shapiro plans to invest $90 million to redevelop the Westdale Mall site.
Plans call for demolishing most of the current mall except for the JCPenney, Younkers, and vacant Von Maur anchors, and turning the site into a "multiuse destination" similar to the Streets at Southglenn in Colorado and Jordan Creek Town Center in Des Moines.. While the mall remains open, redevelopment was expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013 with the demolition of the former Montgomery Ward/Steve & Barry's building.
As of November 15, 2014 the mall has been completely demolished except for the three outlying anchor stores.
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- "The Bridge opening Monday as Cedar Rapids temporary library". The Gazette. 2009-02-08.
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- Smith, Rick (2013-01-04). "Frew says Westdale redevelopment to begin with Wards demolition this spring". Retrieved 2013-01-27.