Located on the bustling west side of beautiful Madison, Wisconsin, Westgate Mall is a small enclosed retail center totalling just over 250,000 square feet in size. It is located along Whitney Way between Odana Road and Tokay Blvd, near the West Beltline Highway. Westgate is flanked by anchor stores TJ Maxx, Hancock Fabrics, and Dunhams Sports. The mall also has a DMV Service Center, Cosmetology School, Art Cinema, several apparel stores, other retail outlets and two fast food establishments. In addition, the mall contains a great deal of office space for tenants such as healthcare software author Epic Systems (partially in an old Sergio’s Mexican restaurant, no less; see pictures below). Adjacent to the mall are several large office buildings including the University of Wisconsin Research Park, where stem cell research and biotechnology occur. Across from Westgate Mall are several other large shopping centers, including a Copp’s grocery store, Marshall’s and several sit-down restaurants.
Westgate is owned by Denver-based real estate investment and management group J. Herzog. They acquired the property in 1990 and were responsible for the center’s major renovation during the mid to late 1990s.
The city of Madison is the second largest as well as capital city of Wisconsin with a population of about 220,000 and a metro population of about 500,000. It is frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in America and boasts one of the better (and larger) state universities in the country, UW-Madison. Madison currently has four enclosed malls: West Towne Mall, Westgate, and Hilldale mall on the city’s economically bustling west side, and East Towne Mall for the east side. There was a substantial enclosed mall on the southeast side called South Towne, but it was disenclosed and turned into a strip center in 2000 and currently remains mostly occupied. Also, there is a lifestyle center in northwest suburban Middleton called Greenway Station, with many upscale shops and restaurants.
Westgate is our textbook definition of an ancillary enclosed mall. An ancillary mall is one that lies in the shadow of a larger, often very successful dominant center. Westgate is about one mile from the Madison area’s most dominant center, West Towne Mall, which was recently renovated and expanded to include Dick’s Sporting Goods, H&M, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and soon J Crew. Westgate’s success lies in being distinctly ancillary to the retail dominance of West Towne, with off-price and specialty retailers, services, and even a hybrid of office space.
The current decor of the enclosed portion of Westgate Mall is currently rather modern, as it was last renovated in the mid to late 1990s. The color scheme is predominantly white: white ceiling panels, white walls, and a tiled floor with alternating white and gray tiles. Westgate’s floorplan is mostly shaped like an L, with a small circular court looping around to the back of the mall near the crux. Also notable is the fact that a strip mall of stores extends on both sides of the enclosed L-shaped mall, elongating it, with exterior entrances only on those portions.
I’m not exactly sure when Westgate opened, but I first visited with family in the early to mid 1990s and it had a markedly different and older decor. There was a lot of wood paneling, darker tile and overall color scheme, and even a B Dalton Bookstore location.
Despite Westgate Mall’s recent success as an ancillary to the West Towne behemoth one mile down the road, there have been a few vacancy issues as of recent. Radio Shack and several other in-line stores, particularly in the TJ Maxx wing, are vacant, and there’s even a Hit or Miss labelscar. Also, the back loop of the mall which contains the DMV Express, Cosmetology College, Theatre, and offices, has experienced a loss of the Cost Cutters location recently.
Hopefully these closures aren’t indicative of a trend and Westgate can continue to retenant the vacancies and further establish itself as an off-price, specialty, service alternative.
The pictures below were taken August 2006. If you know anything more about Westgate Mall’s history, stores, or have an anecdote or just a comment to share, feel free to post.
UPDATE 12/12/2008: After years of sliding downhill, a developer wants to breathe new life into Westgate Mall, bringing Iowa grocer Hy-Vee to the south end of the mall. The proposal indicates a teardown of the existing portion of the mall south of TJMaxx, which mostly consists of stores facing outward to the parking lot in strip-mall style fashion. It doesn’t look like, as of yet, that the majority of the enclosed portion of the mall would be affected. However, we think a great idea would be to relocate Dunham’s sporting goods and the other businesses on the south end of the mall to the enclosed portion which has lost several tenants recently, including Epic Systems, the theatre, and the cosmetology school.