The Westgate Mall in Brockton, Massachusetts is the oldest enclosed shopping mall in Massachusetts, opening in 1963. There are several older malls–such as South Shore Plaza, Northshore Mall, and Shoppers World–but they were all built as primarily outdoor shopping malls that were later enclosed (or, in the case of the latter, demolished). Westgate was the state’s first fully enclosed shopping mall.
The 600,000 square foot mall, located at the junction of routes 24 and 27 in Brockton, a city of 92,000 about 20 miles south of Boston, is mainly interesting for its historical ups and downs. Located halfway between the massive, dominant South Shore Plaza (at present still the largest mall in the Boston area) and the newer, larger Silver City Galleria in Taunton, Westgate has been hemmed in by its large competitors and was near death a few years back. As you can see from these photos, it has survived.
For many years, the Westgate Mall was a relatively successful mall serving Boston’s southern suburbs, along the route 24 corridor. It was located in Brockton, one of Massachusetts’ more troubled industrial cities, but its location near the freeway meant it was accessible enough from surrounding suburbs that this was not generally a problem. Westgate was anchored, initially, by Bradlees, Woolworth, and a relatively small Jordan Marsh store. I’m not even positive that this store was built as a Jordan Marsh because its diminutive stature (50,000 square feet or so) is counter to the types of stores Jordan Marsh was building at the time. Later on (I would estimate the early 1980s), a long side wing was added to connect to two new anchors: Marshalls and Child World.
The Westgate Mall was hit hard in the 1990s by a series of major changes. In 1992, the 1.2 million square foot Silver City Galleria opened in Taunton, about ten miles to the south, and in 1996 the South Shore Plaza, about ten miles to the north, doubled in size to become the Boston area’s largest shopping mall. In addition, Westgate’s anchor base took a trio of hits when Child World, Woolworth, and Bradlees all shut (and the mall’s junior anchor, Cherry & Webb, shut as well). By the late 1990s, the mall was nearly vacant and was in danger of closing. In addition, the Westgate Mall’s sprawling outlots turned into a graveyard of forgotten retail, including HQ, Paperama, Purity, and more.
A 2000 renovation and aggressive retenanting by management company Jones Lang Lasalle saved the Westgate Mall. The Child World/Marshalls twin anchor was demolished and the end of the mall reconfigured to house a Sears store, relocated from a standalone space on route 123. The Woolworth was carved into mall space; much of it houses an Old Navy store, but many other standard mall stores fill portions of the space. Filenes later demolished the Bradlees space and opened one of their most modern prototype stores in 2002 or 2003, and a long side wing (part of which was home to the old Cherry & Webb and part of which was a Chuck E Cheese) was reconfigured to hold a Best Buy. In addition, the Westgate Mall has benefited in the past year or so due to its location only one exit south of one of the only Ikea stores in New England. The mall’s proximity to other, larger malls and the stigma associated with its Brockton location still limit its success somewhat (note the vacant Gap store in one of these photos) but it’s a largely successful mid-sized mall that fills in the gaps between bigger malls in a densely populated suburban region.
The small, old Macy’s store–once one of the lone signs of life in the entire mall–was shut due to the Federated/May merger, and is now listed as a “future development area” on the mall directories. Take a good look at this aged anchor–its one of the last signs of the mall’s advanced age.