A Stroll Down Memory Lane
Remember the days when Westgate Mall was the place to be? Opened in 1963, it’s the oldest enclosed shopping mall in Massachusetts.
Developed by Joseph Campanelli, it started as a modest 356,000-square-foot space and grew to a sprawling 600,000 square feet over the years. Anchor stores like Jordan Marsh, Gilchrist’s, and Sears have come and gone, each leaving a mark on the mall’s history.
The mall has seen several expansions and renovations, transforming it into a retail giant by the early 2000s. But it isn’t just about shopping; it is a social hub where teenagers hang out at the food court, and families gather for holiday shopping. Westgate Mall is a community landmark, a place where memories are made.
Ownership’s Revolving Door
Ownership changes have been a constant in the mall’s history. New England Development initially bought it for $17 million in 1999, selling it later for $58.5 million in 2004. Financial troubles led to a foreclosure and auction in 2009, and New England Development reacquired it for $31.75 million in 2010.
Each new owner brought their vision and strategy, affecting everything from the tenant mix to the mall’s aesthetics. Despite these shifts, the mall has survived, albeit with varying degrees of success. The changes in ownership have been more than just business transactions; they’ve shaped the mall’s identity and future.
Tenants: A Mixed Bag
Anchors: The Pillars of the Mall
Major stores are the backbone of any shopping mall, and Westgate Mall is no exception. Anchors like Burlington, Best Buy Outlet, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Liam’s Home Furniture, Market Basket, and Planet Fitness draw significant foot traffic.
These stores are the modern-day titans that have replaced the likes of Macy’s and Sears, which once held these coveted spots.
The role of an anchor store is not just to attract shoppers but also to set the tone for the mall. For instance, Dick’s Sporting Goods attracts sports enthusiasts, while Market Basket draws in families for their grocery needs. These anchors serve diverse consumer needs, making the mall a multi-purpose destination.
However, the changing retail landscape has put pressure on these anchor stores. The rise of online shopping and changing consumer preferences have led to reevaluating the traditional anchor store model. Despite these challenges, the current anchors at Westgate Mall have shown resilience and adaptability.
Stores: The Heartbeat of the Mall
The smaller stores give Westgate Mall its character and variety. From Banter by Piercing Pagoda and Claire’s in the accessories and jewelry sector to Old Navy and The Children’s Place offering children’s apparel, these stores cater to specific needs and tastes. They are the heartbeat of the mall, providing the everyday items people seek.
Health and beauty stores like Bath & Body Works and Golden Nails offer specialized products and services.
Men’s apparel shops like Aéropostale and Santos Men’s Store provide fashion options, while various services like Arch Dental and H&R Block meet more practical needs. These stores may not be as large as the anchors, but they are essential to the mall’s ecosystem.
Yet, the diversity of these stores is both a strength and a challenge. While they offer variety, the absence of certain types of stores can make the mall less appealing as a one-stop shopping destination. The mall management faces the ongoing task of maintaining a balanced and attractive tenant mix.
Dining: More Than Just Food
The dining options at Westgate Mall have come a long way. Gone are the days when the food court had limited choices. Today, the mall offers a range of dining options that go beyond mere sustenance. From Auntie Anne’s pretzels and Charleys Philly Steaks to Chipotle’s burritos and IHOP’s pancakes, there’s something for every palate.
Fast-food joints like Popeye’s Chicken coexist with coffee shops like Starbucks, providing quick bites or leisurely sips options. Sarku Japan offers a taste of the East, while Sweet Mix Smoothies caters to the health-conscious. The variety of dining options makes the mall not just a shopping destination but also a place to relax and refuel.
However, the dining scene also reflects broader trends in consumer behavior. Including healthier options like Sweet Mix Smoothies and popular chains like Chipotle indicates a shift towards more diverse and health-conscious dining choices. This evolution in dining options is a response to changing consumer demands and is a sign of the mall’s adaptability.
Community Ties and Impact
Westgate Mall has always been more than a shopping center; it’s a part of the Brockton, Massachusetts community. It has provided jobs, been a go-to place for shopping, and even acted as a social gathering spot. However, the decline in foot traffic and the closure of crucial stores have ripple effects on the local economy.
Looking Ahead: An Uncertain Future
So, what’s next for Westgate Mall? While it has seen better days, it’s not ready to be written off just yet. New England Development’s current owner is actively exploring ways to breathe new life into this aging retail space.
Ultimately, the mall’s future may be uncertain, but it’s far from sealed. Westgate Mall could defy the odds and turn a new page in its storied history with the right mix of tenants, community engagement, and innovation.