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mallguy

Westfield Eastridge Mall (Gastonia's regional mall)

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What happened here?

 

There is a 1MM sf regional mall right off I-85 in Gastonia, right next to the highway.  It's anchored by Belk, Dillard's, JC Penney and Sears, was expanded in the late 1990s and is in what seems to be a vibrant retail area (more or less).  Clearly a recipe for success, right?

 

I went to that mall for the first time in a few years and it has all the characteristics of becoming the next Eastland:

 

* The Dillard's had really thinned out its merchandise, with a few clearance racks and the rest of the store under-stocked, with tons of empty space around the clothing racks.

* The mall has cut its hours to close at 8pm during the week

* There were a decent number of empty spaces in the mall

* Many stores were one-of-a-kind ones (e.g., airbrushed art store, a car stereo store filling a former GAP)

* The upper level of the mall didn't seem to have been renovated since its opening in apparently 1976

* The mall's clientele seemed low-income


What gives?  Do people in Gastonia just drive into Charlotte or to that Gaston Mall redevelopment (with the Target and some nicer mall stores)?  Is Eastridge heading towards mall death?

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One word: demographics.  While Union, Iredell, York, and Cabarrus counties boom, Gaston remains stagnant.

 

It's also a terrible name for a shopping center. 

Edited by Miesian Corners
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Any updates on this mall?

It lost its Sears in a recent round of store closings (to be expected) and apparently its Hollister closed, and Chick-fil-A (wow!) has been gone for a few years, but its remaining anchors still seem to be hanging on.

I'd expect the Dillard's to become a clearance center one of these days.

I still don't see what went wrong here.  Gaston County hasn't exactly boomed- look at downtown Gastonia- but it hasn't spiraled downhill like East Charlotte, as far as I know, and surely the same demographic that supported Eastridge for 20+ years is still around.

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1 hour ago, mallguy said:

Any updates on this mall?

It lost its Sears in a recent round of store closings (to be expected) and apparently its Hollister closed, and Chick-fil-A (wow!) has been gone for a few years, but its remaining anchors still seem to be hanging on.

I'd expect the Dillard's to become a clearance center one of these days.

I still don't see what went wrong here.  Gaston County hasn't exactly boomed- look at downtown Gastonia- but it hasn't spiraled downhill like East Charlotte, as far as I know, and surely the same demographic that supported Eastridge for 20+ years is still around.

The current owners of the mall show no sign of even trying to rehabilitate this property.  If it was shown a little TLC and had a nice makeover it could conceivably start doing well.  I personally think with the recent Target development at the old Gaston Mall, all the retail is clustering around the Cox Rd exit off I-85.

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Brick and mortar retail is in trouble period, but malls are feeling the pinch especially badly. Unless they can find a niche by can offer something of an experience beyond just being a collection of stores for buying stuff, (by being very upscale, or being an outlet destination, or by adding entertainment venues, etc) many malls in general are toast. Once the death spiral of anchors closing or downgrading starts, there's nothing to stave it off. Here in the Triangle, Cary Town Center is the latest to head down that path. It was a decent mid-market mall in an affluent suburb with good demographics and a decent anchor mix but still couldn't cut it. Triangle Town Center on the northern edge of Raleigh proper may soon follow suit, despite opening just 15 years ago.

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Seems like a trend with many of the malls in the outer towns that surround Charlotte. Would it be a good idea to convert these malls into outdoor, mixed-use town centers?

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This mall shouldn't be converted. Gastonia cannot support additional retail like this since people are more than willing to travel to Concord Mills or South Park to complete their shopping.

Malls are going by the wayside as technology inserts itself into the equation. People no longer have to be 'dropped off' at the mall to hang out. They are hanging out 24/7 with one another through their smart phones (like it or hate it, this is having a huge impact on the mall and those who shop at malls). 

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4 hours ago, Third Strike said:

Seems like a trend with many of the malls in the outer towns that surround Charlotte. Would it be a good idea to convert these malls into outdoor, mixed-use town centers?

Yes, but it's not a good conversion for Eastridge.  Adding mixed uses how ever would be.  I remember as a kid being flabbergasted that the owners of Eastland wouldn't even consider adding apartments, or offices.  To me a mall's business is attracting people to be there working and living someplace are better reasons than having trendy shops.  Trends change but having a stable amount of people somewhere is priceless.

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4 hours ago, dcharlotte said:

This mall shouldn't be converted. Gastonia cannot support additional retail like this since people are more than willing to travel to Concord Mills or South Park to complete their shopping.

I would imagine the Premium Outlets off 485 is taking a pretty big bite out of Gaston County's tax receipts as well.

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After working for 10 years in retail (part-time) in the Franklin Road vicinity, I was surprised how many people drive from Shelby to the West and the Clover area to the South to everything in Gastonia.  So, I would kindly dispute that Gaston County does not have the population to support something new there.  Most of us (at least in the eastern side of the county) will travel to Northlake, Concord Mills, Outlet mall or Steele Creek for our shopping needs - should the glut on Franklin between Cox Road and Lowell not satisfy our immediate needs.  If there was decent retail around us, I feel pretty certain that it would be supported.

Eastridge saw its good days over 20 years ago - if anyone can call it that.  The mall is basically N stage life support.  Aside from Belk, nothing worth going to shop at that one can't get already along Franklin Blvd, or driving down to Steele Creek.  IMHO, it would be considered prime real estate (right on the interstate) and close enough to other prime retail opportunities, that if done right, could be a draw.  Herein lies the BIG catch.  What do you do?  Raise it and make it another "lifestyle" center like Rivergate or just another strip mall like everything else on Franklin.  Would it be worth leveling it and putting more bars/restaurants and shops with apartments on top?  At any rate, its a shame to see this place (like most other malls) flounder away with no hope in sight.  I don't think that Westfield knows what to do with it. But before more retailers decide to pull out of that mall, hopefully, those in charge at the city and county level would have some sort of conversation with Westfield to figure out the best option for this property.  Having it be a drain on the tax roll is something that we desperately do not need.

If revitalized, long term, it could be a vital link between the retail to the east and downtown once that has the life pumped back into it! 

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Eastridge is now owned by City View Commercial as Westfield sold it. They specialize in distressed retail properties according to their website. I think the best plan would be tear the roof off and add some mixed uses (more restaurants, apartments, hotels)  I agree this is a great site along I-85. Gastonia is a major retail center for central Lincoln county, all of Gaston and most of Cleveland County and parts of York county. I just think this mall like many others across the country has seen better days. Franklin Square and all the other shopping centers nearby prove their is plenty of retail activity in Gaston County. Each metro market like Charlotte can only support a few high performing malls in this current ecommerce world and that would be SouthPark, Concord Mills and lesser extent Carolina Place and Northlake. Look at Rock Hill Galleria it is struggling too. Malls are being torn down, rebuilt or uncovered from coast to coast. Eastridge reminds me of San Jacinto Mall in Baytown TX east of Houston  look what they are doing to it.  http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2015/07/baytown-mall-sold-for-redevelopment.html   It could not compete against the flashier higher malls of greater Houston and it is was doing better than Eastridge.   The best plan is to redevelop, demolish and mix the uses up. It could be a very thriving town center type concept with fantastic regional access.

 

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It would be interesting to know if a significant amount of people were bypassing regional malls for Mecklenburg County/Concord Mills. That might be a good sign of people moving back into the urban centers

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The "new" development in Gastonia (most of it's probably over a decade old at this point) is all along Franklin (US 74). Unfortunately for the mall, it's not on the natural exit path for this area; the rehabilitation of the old mall (based on Target) is. Get off 85 at Exit 21 and you have access to Target, many chain restaurants, and a series of "plazas" with Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Sam's Club, Gander Mountain, Books-a-million, and a movie theater. You can turn right and go to the Eastridge mall, but there's a large dead area (car dealerships, etc.) before you get there, so it feels very disconnected.

Gastonia's a pretty odd place, all told. All of its "nodes" -- downtown, Eastridge mall, the Franklin Blvd. area -- feel extremely disconnected.

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article64026457.htmlA

Aesthetics are not going to draw people to this mall.  "Dramatic changes" - I think we will just have to wait and see what that exactly means.  Don't get me wrong, I would very much like to see this area succeed.  And I hope that the developers are able to deliver on what is mentioned in the article.

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