Last updated December 2018. All updates and corrections to factual errors will be posted in the video description below. SHAKY VIDEO ALERT - full-screen viewing is not recommended!
-Younkers closed in May 2018 due to bankruptcy.
-JCP is still open as of December 2018.
-Please disregard the history of Lindale Mall given in the narration, it is wrong. The yellow subtitles & description below have the correct history.
-RadioShack was actually located in the angled storefront seen at 8:50.
-KB Toys was actually on the upper level next to JCP, not the lower level.
-I'm told there were public restrooms next to the Chick-Fil-A.
This is a video tour of the now-demolished Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids, IA, recorded Sept 2010, with additional photos from 2014. At the time I recorded this, Westdale had been dying for over a decade.
Opened in 1979, the two-level 850,000 sq ft Westdale Mall was the first enclosed mall in Cedar Rapids. The only other comparable shopping center in the city was Lindale Plaza, which at the time was an open-air shopping center built in the 60s, then later converted to an enclosed mall in the 80s. During the 80s & early 90s, Westdale was easily the better of the two malls, despite the fact it never had a proper central food court. Westdale had four anchors during its peak: JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, Younkers and Von Maur. It also had a sizeable Osco Drug as a sort of unofficial fifth anchor, plus two outbuildings that included an Econofoods grocery supermarket and a four-screen movie theater.
In the mid 90s, Lindale Mall underwent major renovation. These improvements began drawing people away from Westdale, which was stagnating from lack of updates. A new Walmart Supercenter right across the street leeched away even more shoppers. The biggest contributor to the downfall of Westdale, however, was the opening of the huge Coral Ridge Mall only 20mi away in 1998. Right after Coral Ridge opened, Westdale's decline accelerated. The Econofoods and movie theater both closed, although a Big Lots eventually replaced the Econofoods. Then in 2001, Montgomery Ward closed, the first anchor to leave the mall.
Around 2005, talks began about what should be done with the ailing mall. Several failed attempts were made to find a buyer who would renovate the mall without outright demolishing it. Meanwhile, stores kept leaving Westdale. In 2006, Big Lots and Osco Drug both closed, followed in 2007 by Von Maur, leaving JCP and Younkers as the only remaining anchors. A Steve & Barry's moved into the old Montgomery Ward building, but only lasted a couple years before closing in 2008. It was obvious the mall was beyond hope...Westdale was going to die.
However, Westdale's demise was unexpectedly put on hold in 2008. A major flood destroyed the city hall, main public library and many other county offices. After the flood, the displaced agencies relocated their operations to Westdale. The convenience of having the various government offices and the main public library all centrally-located at the mall, combined with the potential of increased foot traffic for the few businesses that remained, prompted renewed talks about trying to save the mall. The possibility of the city themselves purchasing Westdale and making it a permanent home for some of their offices was even brought up. However, the city and county opted instead to build new offices and move back downtown, which was mostly complete by early 2012. When this video was recorded, only the library remained, as their new building was not done yet.
Ultimately, it was announced that Westdale Mall would close in 2014, then be demolished to make way for a mixed-use open-air "town center". The Montgomery Ward anchor building was the first part of the main complex to be demolished, which actually occurred while the mall was still open. Finally, in March of 2014, the central area of the mall closed permanently, and was knocked down a few months later. Today, all that remains of the original mall complex are the JCP, Younkers and Von Maur anchor buildings, plus the former movie theater outbuilding (the Econofoods/Big Lots outbuilding was demolished in 2010).
JCP is still open as a standalone store. Younkers had also stayed open as a standalone store, but bankruptcy eventually closed their doors in 2018, leaving JCP as the last original anchor. The Von Maur building was subdivided and now houses a Ross Dress & Encore Shoes. Those two stores, plus a newly-built Burlington Coat Factory and the remnant JCP, all serve as the "anchors" for the central area of the remodeled shopping center. A lot of the redevelopment process is complete, with several new retail buildings and a new Hilton hotel finished, and about 20% of the retail spaces occupied as of the last update.
The new development is now called Westdale Town Center. Westdale Mall is dead. Dead...but not forgotten.
Cedar Rapids, IA