Nestled in the suburb of Ashwaubenon, in the vibrant city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a bustling hub of retail and entertainment – Bay Park Square Mall. A haven for shoppers and entertainment seekers alike, this mall, owned by Simon Property Group, stands as a testament to the ever-evolving retail landscape.
The Early Days: A Dream Takes Shape
In the late 1960s, the Bay Park Square Mall idea began forming. Montgomery Ward, a now-defunct American department store chain, announced plans for a 700,000-square-foot shopping mall in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, to replace their downtown Green Bay store. This was an ambitious plan for the time and was met with much anticipation.
However, the road to Bay Park Square’s realization was fraught with delays. The project was initially scheduled to open in 1971, but setbacks pushed the timeline back.
It wasn’t until 1979 when the construction of the mall officially began, under the stewardship of Edward J. DeBartolo Corp, which Montgomery Ward brought in as the new developer.
By then, the mall project had expanded to 786,000 square feet, and Shopko was announced as the second anchor store of the new mall. Finally, in 1980, Bay Park Square opened its doors to the public.
Expansions and Renovations: Evolving with Time
Just a year after its opening, in 1981, Bay Park Square was already undergoing expansion. An east wing was added, and Kohl’s Department Store became a part of the mall. The project added 94,000 square feet of space, making Bay Park Square an even more significant retail destination.
1995 the mall underwent a significant renovation, significantly changing its interior. A new west wing was added, which included a food court in the former Marcus Theatres space and a new Elder-Beerman department store as the fourth anchor, replacing the mall’s main entrance.
The mall subsequently introduced two innovative angled entrances: one directing visitors to the new food court and another providing access to the mall walkway that aligns with the new Elder-Beerman department store’s side.
Marcus Theatres also built a new 16-screen movie theater on a lot behind Shopko. This renovation period was a testament to Bay Park Square’s commitment to continuously adapting and evolving with the changing times.
The Ownership: From DeBartolo to Simon Property Group
The reins of Bay Park Square shifted when Simon Property Group, an international front-runner in retail real estate, took ownership of the mall following a merger with the DeBartolo Corporation.
The wealth of knowledge and broad-ranging experience of the Simon Property Group has ensured Bay Park Square’s continued appeal and relevance to consumers, notwithstanding the emergence of online shopping and the corresponding slump in traditional retail.
The Modern Era: Adapting to Change
The new millennium brought challenges and changes to Bay Park Square. Montgomery Ward, one of the original anchors, closed its doors in 2001.
As the years rolled on, 2003 saw an expansion of the mall’s south wing, which also welcomed the addition of a brand-new Younkers department store. However, by 2018, both Younkers stores in the mall closed due to Bon-Ton’s bankruptcy.
Despite these challenges, Bay Park Square continued to adapt and reinvent itself. In 2019, plans were announced for Dave & Buster’s to occupy the former Younkers Furniture space. Along with Dave & Buster’s, Panda Express, Blaze Pizza, and Mission BBQ also announced plans to establish outlets on the mall property.
In 2021, Dave & Buster’s opened, followed by the opening of Panda Express in the parking lot. In 2022, the erstwhile Younkers space became the new home for Steinhafels Furniture, while Chick-fil-A marked its debut in northeastern Wisconsin, setting up shop at the front of the mall near Dave & Busters.
Hy-Vee, a supermarket chain, also opened its largest store in the former Shopko space, marking another chapter in Bay Park Square’s history.
Today, Bay Park Square stands as a testament to the evolution of retail, demonstrating how adaptation and innovation can keep a shopping mall relevant and vibrant, even amidst changing consumer preferences and the rise of online shopping.