SouthPark Center (Westfield SouthPark), Strongsville, Ohio
Originally developed as SouthPark Center, this sprawling two-level regional mall in Strongsville, Ohio, is now known as Westfield SouthPark.
As a sizable portion of Cleveland’s inner-ring residents (primarily white and ethnic) began their suburban expansion southwestward along Interstate 71 toward Columbus in the 1960s and ‘70s, it became apparent that the interstate interchange at Royalton Road (Ohio Route 82) would become a prime focus of development. Sizable areas of available land remained, and Royalton Road served as a primary east-west artery connecting residential suburbs in both directions. Nearby Pearl Road was already a thriving commercial corridor, of primarily strip centers and stand-alone buildings.
Early schemes for a new Cleveland Browns stadium in the area became public in the 1980s, to overwhelming local disapproval. Local real-estate mogul Richard E. Jacobs acquired a large parcel to the southwest of the primary interchange, abutting Howe Road and Royalton Road, and began plans for a regional shopping center. The form of the eventual mall crystallized around the intended local anchor department stores of Higbee’s and The May Company.
Ground was broken in 1993, with SouthPark Center opening for business three years and over $200 million later. The completed center included not only Dillard’s (the renamed Higbee’s) and Kaufmann’s (the renamed May Company) department stores, but also J. C. Penney’s, Sears, over 100 other retailers, an elegant food court, and a grand porte cochere — a massive extended greeting canopy above its main entrance. The project also made allowances for an eventual fifth anchor store location, plus substantial peripheral development.
Situated about SouthPark’s site perimeter are a Giant Eagle Supermarket, a Cleveland Clinic Medical Building, restaurants, banks and such substantial retailers as Office Max and Kohl’s. The shopping center was noteworthy for its coordinated upscale architectural treatment and lush landscaping. Its interior is roofed by grand barrel-vaulted trusswork and plentiful skylights over lush plantings. A comprehensive sign design package by ZZ Design added to its understated elegance and appeal. The center has proven a very strong draw and popular destination for local and regional residents alike.
After acquiring the shopping center from The Richard E. Jacobs Group in 2002, The Westfield Group renamed it Westfield SouthPark, and 4 years later began a substantial reconfiguration and expansion of the mall. That $150 million redevelopment brought a multi-screen cinema to the project along with an additional two dozen retailers.
Assisting The Richard E. Jacobs Group in both sign design and local approvals processes for the development was the local design consultancy of ZZ Design Inc., headed by architect Richard Zimmerman. His firm produced multiple architectural renderings for the project, designed most of the development's signs and graphics, and represented the developer in many public hearings and submission sessions. An architectural expert witness as well as a designer, cartoonist and writer, Rick Zimmerman has penned numerous items on Cleveland-area architecture and matters of sustainability, and has created rickzworld.
Exit I-71 at Royalton Road, State Route 82, Strongsville and you can't miss this mega-mall!
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