The Dawn of Richmond Town Square
Ah, the good old days! Richmond Town Square Mall opened its doors for the first time in September 1966 in Richmond Heights, Ohio. Developed by the renowned Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., it was the place to be. Sears, Woolworths, JCPenney, and Loews Theater were the original anchors, drawing crowds like you wouldn’t believe.
The mall wasn’t just about shopping; it was a social hub. People gathered there for more than just the holiday sales. It was where teenagers hung out, families spent Saturdays, and everyone had their favorite food court spot.
Located at the strategic intersection of Richmond Road and Wilson Mills Road, the mall was easily accessible. It was the perfect spot for a shopping center right in Richmond Heights. The location was so good that it became a landmark.
In addition to the big-name stores, the mall also had a variety of in-line tenants. Stores like Richman Brothers and Winkelman’s added to the mall’s appeal. You could find almost anything you needed without stepping out of the mall.
The mall was more than a collection of stores; it was a part of the community. It hosted events, holiday celebrations, and even car shows. It was the go-to place for things to do in Richmond Heights, Ohio.
But as we all know, nothing stays the same forever. The mall that was once the heart of the community started to show signs of aging as the years rolled by.
Richmond Town Square Through the Years
In 1988, the Richmond Town Square Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library opened its doors. Initially housed in a freestanding boutique kiosk, the library became an instant hit. It wasn’t long before it showed significant growth in circulation.
Then came 1998, a year of big changes for the mall. Kaufmann’s was added as a new anchor. The Loews Theater also expanded from a 10-screen to a 20-screen theater. The mall was getting a facelift, and it was about time!
That same year, DeBartolo Realty Corp. merged with Simon Property Group. The mall underwent another round of remodeling and even got a new name. The renovation was a big deal, costing around $100 million.
In 2006, more changes were afoot. Kaufmann’s was rebranded to Macy’s, and the Loews Theater became Regal Cinemas. The mall was keeping up with the times, or so it seemed.
Fast forward to 2010, and the Barnes & Noble store at the mall closed its doors. It was part of a series of closures by the company. The writing was on the wall; the mall struggled to keep up with changing consumer habits.
By 2014, the mall’s ownership was transferred from Simon Property Group to its spin-off, Washington Prime Group, now known as WP Glimcher. The mall was no longer the crown jewel it once was.
The Decline of Richmond Town Square
In January 2015, Macy’s announced it would close its mall store. The closure was part of a plan to shut down 14 of its stores nationwide. By mid-March of the same year, the Macy’s store was gone, and the exterior signage was removed.
In November 2016, Kohan Retail Investment Group became the mall’s new owner, acquiring it for $7.25 million. It was a far cry from its glory days. The mall was losing its luster, and the community felt it.
Then came the big blow. On January 4, 2017, Sears announced its store would close in March of the same year. Sears had been one of the original anchors, and its departure was a significant loss.
JCPenney followed suit, announcing on March 17, 2017, that they would close their location on July 31, 2017. The mall was losing its anchors fast, with little to keep people coming.
Kohan Retail Investment Group declared on August 31, 2020, that the mall would shut its doors for good. The plan was to allow for redevelopment to take place. The remaining anchors were a 20-screen Regal Cinemas theater, LifeStorage, and Planet Fitness.
The mall that had once been a bustling hub was now a shadow of its former self. It was the end of an era, and the community felt the loss deeply.
The Rebirth as Belle Oaks Marketplace
But wait, there’s a silver lining! In 2017, DealPoint Merrill saw an opportunity in the mall’s vacant Macy’s department store. The initial vision was to turn it into a first-class, climate-controlled, indoor storage facility.
As plans progressed, DealPoint Merrill began to look at the bigger picture. They saw potential in the abandoned Sears department store and its vacant land. And so, the idea for Belle Oaks Marketplace was born.
The company proposed a new, mixed-use development for the vacant Sears building in Richmond Heights. The plan was ambitious and exciting. It was the beginning of a new chapter for the community.
Belle Oaks Marketplace is envisioned as a class-A, multi-family and mixed-use development. It promises the finest appointments and amenities. Imagine walking to your favorite dining spots and retail shopping; that’s what Belle Oaks aims to offer.
The residential units will include a mix of one-bedroom, one-bedroom with dens, and two-bedroom units. The community is buzzing with anticipation.
The first phase of the Belle Oaks Marketplace is already making waves. It’s a sign of good things to come, and the community can’t wait to see it completed.
What’s Next for Belle Oaks Marketplace?
So, what’s in store for the future? Additional phases of the development are in the pipeline. The community is actively involved, and feedback on the Belle Oaks Project is encouraged. It’s a development everyone wants to be proud of.
DealPoint Merrill purchased the last part of the mall in July 2021, and the demolition process kicked off on September 18, 2023. It’s a bittersweet moment but also a necessary step for progress.
The development is named Belle Oaks at Richmond and is planned to be a “Thoughtful Living Community.” It’s not just about buildings; it’s about creating a lifestyle. The aim is to make it a place where people can live, work, and play.
The Belle Oaks Marketplace website community page allows residents to share their thoughts. It’s a way to ensure the development aligns with the needs and wants of the community.
In June 2021, an event was held in the parking lot of the former Sears, showing locals the plans for Belle Oaks. It was a way to keep the community involved and informed. After all, this development is for the people of Richmond Heights.
The future looks bright with Belle Oaks Marketplace. It’s a new beginning, and the community is ready for it.
The Legacy of Richmond Town Square
Richmond Town Square was more than a mall; it was a part of the community’s fabric. It was where memories were made, from first dates to holiday shopping sprees.
The mall had its ups and downs but left an indelible mark on the community. It was a place that saw generations come and go, each leaving their imprint.
The new development aims to preserve this legacy while adding a modern twist. Belle Oaks Marketplace wants to be more than just another shopping center; it aims to be a community hub.
It’s a transformation that has been years in the making. The mall’s closure was a loss, but its rebirth as Belle Oaks offers new opportunities. It’s a chance for the community to come together and create something unique.
The transformation of Richmond Town Square into Belle Oaks Marketplace is a sign of the times. It reflects the changing needs and wants of the community. But one thing remains constant: the desire for a place that brings people together.
It’s not just about the past or the future; it’s about the journey. And what a journey it has been for Richmond Town Square and the community of Richmond Heights.
So there you have it, the tale of Richmond Town Square and its transformation into Belle Oaks Marketplace. It’s a story of ups and downs, endings and new beginnings. It’s a story that belongs to the community of Richmond Heights.
The mall may be gone, but its spirit lives in Belle Oaks Marketplace. It’s a new chapter, and everyone is invited to be a part of it.