Metro Rochester’s fourth mall opened in 1971 near the intersection of Interstate 90 / NY Thruway and NY Route 96. Located 15 miles southeast of downtown in suburban Victor, Eastview Mall was developed by Rochester-based mall- maker Wilmorite, the same firm responsible for developing many of the region’s other centers. Eastview Mall was much smaller than the behemoth that stands today, and was originally anchored by Rochester-based Sibley’s department store and Sears, in a simple dumbbell configuration connecting the two anchors containing 80 in-line stores.
The first of several expansions at Eastview took place in 1973 as Rochester-based McCurdy’s department store was added as a third anchor, along with a 15-store expansion and a new west wing. With 95 stores, Eastview was the Rochester area’s largest mall until 1982, when The Marketplace Mall opened in south-suburban Henrietta. Eastview was also larger than Rochester’s other extant malls: Midtown Plaza, which opened in 1962, Greece Towne Mall, which opened in 1967, and Long Ridge Mall, which opened in 1972.
During the 1990s, anchor changes as well as major renovations and expansions changed the face of retailing in greater Rochester. In 1990, Wilmorite constructed a fifth mall in the region, Irondequoit Mall, located in northeast-suburban Irondequoit, about 2 miles from downtown Rochester. Irondequoit enjoyed a modicum of success during the 1990s, but quickly fell out of favor due to increased competition, an unfavorable location, and a perception of crime. By the year 2000, Irondequoit Mall was not a threat to the remaining retail centers, and the center closed in 2009.
Also in 1990, an anchor change took place at Eastview. Sibley’s became Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann’s after May Company, Kaufmann’s parent, purchased Sibley’s in 1986 and decided to consolidate nameplates.
In 1994, another anchor change took place at Eastview, as May Company also acquired McCurdy’s. However, due to an antitrust settlement, May could not convert the McCurdy’s stores to Kaufmann’s as they had done with Sibley’s, and instead divested them to Bon Ton. The store remains Bon Ton today.
Also in 1994, adjacent crosstown rival malls Greece Towne Mall and Long Ridge Mall combined, creating a massive mall called The Mall at Greece Ridge Center with 1.6 million square feet of retail space, and Eastview embarked upon a massive expansion and renovation of its own. Eastview added 62 additional stores and a food court, along with two new anchors: a 147,000 square-foot 2 story JCPenney, and Lord and Taylor. This expansion, which was complete in 1995, gave Eastview Mall over 1 million square feet of retail space, and, although Greece Ridge became the largest mall in Rochester following its expansion, Eastview cornered an upscale niche and became the area’s most popular mall.
The expansion also gave Eastview a unique and interesting layout, giving shoppers the option of completing an indoor square rather than traversing a linear route. Also, Bon Ton opened a second mall entrance right next to the first one, due to being located at the crux of two hallways after the expansion. In addition, ancillary strip began popping up near Eastview, with several plazas popping up nearby.
In 2003, Wilmorite expanded Eastview again, adding a 62,000-foot outdoor ‘lifestyle’ expansion to the mall’s main entrance along NY 96, containing 8-10 additional stores and restaurants. Like many ‘lifestyle’ expansions, this addition to the mall was stocked with upscale womens clothing retailers and ‘destinational’ restaurants, like PF Chang and Biaggi’s, as well as upscale home outfitter Pottery Barn.
After the most recent expansion, Eastview Mall has over 1.3 million square feet of retail space, 5 department stores, and over 180 specialty stores and restaurants. More than 30 stores at Eastview are unique to the Rochester market, such as Apple, giving Eastview the best and most upscale store selection of any mall in the Rochester area.
The current incarnation of Eastview Mall proves the Field of Dreams theory on retail development, which I just invented: If you build it, shoppers will come. Eastview is, by far, the most distant mall in the Rochester area to the center of population; yet in contrast, it is the most popular mall in terms of selection. Also, according to Eastview’s Wikipedia entry, people frequently go to Eastview when visiting the nearby Finger Lakes region, a tourist region of upstate New York located a short distance south of the mall. Because of its wide draw, Eastview is the Rochester area’s only true super-regional mall.
We visited Eastview Mall in December 2007 and took the pictures featured here. Leave comments regarding your own experiences and stories.