The Origins and Early Years
Launching in 1971, the Hawley Lane Plaza Mall in Trumbull, Connecticut, rapidly became a bustling venue for shopping and dining. Throughout the 1970s, it was full of activity, attracting steady visitors.
Anchored by Caldor and a Waldbaum’s supermarket, it was more than just a shopping center; it was a community gathering spot. Caldor was particularly impressive with its two-story design and belt escalators, a novelty at the time.
But it wasn’t just about the big names. Smaller stores like B. Dalton Booksellers and Hawley Lane Shoes also found a home here, adding to the mall’s eclectic mix. These stores were the hidden gems that made each visit to the mall a unique experience.
You could buy a novel to read over the weekend at B. Dalton and then hop over to Hawley Lane Shoes for that perfect pair of loafers.
The mall was a symbol of modernity and convenience. Located near Exit 8 of Route 8 North or South, it was easily accessible. It also had the advantage of being close to other major routes like the Merritt Parkway, making it a prime location for shoppers.
The Rise and Fall
The late 1980s and early 1990s were challenging for the Hawley Lane Mall. Competition from other shopping centers like Milford Crossroads and Trumbull Shopping Park began to take its toll. The mall’s profitability started to wane, and the once-bustling corridors grew quieter.
Sage-Allen, a third anchor store that had taken up residence in 1982, went out of business in 1993. Caldor also faced bankruptcy and closed its doors in 1999. Around the same time, all Waldbaum’s stores in the state shut down. The mall was left without any anchor stores, a ghost of its former self.
The decline wasn’t just about economics but also about changing consumer habits. The once-vibrant community space was now a shadow of its former glory, with empty storefronts and a dwindling number of visitors.
The New Era and Renovation
A new chapter began when it seemed like the end of the road for Hawley Lane Plaza. National Realty and Development Corp. purchased the property and invested $8 million in renovations in 2005. The mall underwent a complete transformation, and new anchor stores like Kohl’s and HomeGoods breathed life into it.
Target and Best Buy soon followed, with Target’s massive 124,500-square-foot space becoming a significant part of the mall’s total area. The renovation was more than just cosmetic; it was a strategic move to adapt to the changing retail landscape.
The renovation was a gamble, but it paid off. The mall regained its former glory, and the community began to see it as a viable shopping destination. It wasn’t just a comeback; it was a transformation that adapted to the times while retaining the essence of what made Hawley Lane Plaza special in the first place.
Current Tenants: A Diverse Mix of Retail and Services
The Hawley Lane Plaza Mall in Trumbull, CT, has come a long way from its early days, and its current tenant list reflects that evolution. Today, the mall is home to various businesses catering to various consumer needs, from food and beverages to specialized services.
Anchor stores like Best Buy, Homegoods, Kohl’s, and Target offer multiple products, from electronics to home decor, with a total retail floor area of 462,000 square feet and 15 stores and services. Bus transportation is available via the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority.
Food and Beverage Outlets
Dunkin’ and Subway are among the food and beverage outlets that have found a home in the mall. Dunkin’, a staple for many looking for their daily caffeine fix, offers a variety of coffee, donuts, and breakfast items. Subway provides a healthier fast-food alternative with its customizable sandwiches and salads. These eateries offer quick and convenient options for shoppers on the go.
Regarding retail, Five Below and TJ’s discount wine & liquor offer diverse shopping experiences. Five Below is a hit among budget-conscious shoppers, offering a variety of items from tech accessories to beauty products, all priced at $5 or below. TJ’s discount wine & liquor provides a selection of wines, beers, and spirits, making it a one-stop-shop for adult beverages.
The mall also hosts several specialized services that add to its appeal. Hawley Lane Opticians offers eye care services and a range of eyewear options. H&R Block is available for tax preparation and financial advice, especially during the tax season. Jeff Works, a recent addition, provides a co-working space catering to freelancers and small business owners needing a professional environment.
Entertainment and Lifestyle
For those looking for entertainment and lifestyle options, the mall doesn’t disappoint. Fire & Dice is a haven for board game enthusiasts, offering a wide range of games for purchase and play. Xperiment VR brings virtual reality experiences to the mall, offering an array of VR games and simulations that are both entertaining and educational.
The current tenant mix at Hawley Lane Plaza Mall is a testament to its adaptability. From daily necessities to specialized services and entertainment, the mall continues to serve the diverse needs of the Trumbull community.
Demographics and Location
The mall’s strategic location remains one of its most vital assets. It draws a diverse crowd, Situated off Route 108 and close to Merritt Parkway & Route 8. The area within a 5-mile radius has a daytime population of 129,000 and an average household income of $88,500, making it an attractive location for retailers.
Moreover, the mall is near dense residential areas, office complexes, and even a neighboring hotel. With traffic counts of 50,800 vehicles per day on Route 108 and 33,900 vehicles per day at Nichols Avenue and Hawley Lane, it’s clear that the mall is still a significant player in the local economy.
Hawley Lane Plaza: Latest Developments
Recent news indicates that the mall is evolving. A new co-working space, Jeff Works, has opened, adding another dimension to the mall’s offerings. A YouTube video walkthrough filmed in September 2022 captures the mall’s current state, showing that it has come a long way.
The story of Hawley Lane Plaza is one of resilience and transformation. It has seen highs and lows but has remained a cornerstone of the Trumbull community. Today, the mall is not just a relic of the past but a testament to adaptability and the enduring appeal of retail spaces.