Exton Square Mall is a shopping mall located in the Exton, Pennsylvania in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The mall features a parking garage and food court. It is located at the crossroads of Chester County at the intersection of U.S. Route 30 Business and Pennsylvania Route 100. The mall is anchored by Macy's and Boscov's retail stores and a Round One Entertainment, an arcade and bowling center. It also contains dozens[dubious ] of smaller stores and a food court.

Exton Square Mall
Exton Square Mall logo
Exton Square Mall interior, 2017
LocationExton, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates40°01′53″N 75°37′25″W / 40.0314°N 75.6236°W / 40.0314; -75.6236
Address260 Exton Square Parkway
Opening dateMarch 1973[1]
DeveloperThe Rouse Company
ManagementPennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust
OwnerPennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust
No. of stores and services40+
No. of anchor tenants3
Total retail floor area1,086,859 sq ft (100,973 m2)[2]
No. of floors1-2
ParkingParking lot, parking garage
Public transit accessBus transport SEPTA bus: 135, 204 at the Exton Transportation Center

The Exton Square Mall is shaped as a square with the southern half of the mall two floors and the northern half one floor. Macy's is located at the center of the mall while the other anchor stores and the food court are on corners of the mall. It is owned by Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT).

As of 2023, the facility has been cited among lists of "dead malls" in Pennsylvania.[3] Although the Spring Carnival remains a popular event.

Location edit

Location of Exton Square Mall

The Exton Square Mall is located in the unincorporated community of Exton in West Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania at the northeast corner of the intersection between east-west US 30 Bus. and north-south PA 100.[4] The intersection between US 30 Bus. and PA 100 is known as "the crossroads of Chester County".[5] The mall is located near the US 30 bypass of Exton, the US 202 expressway, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.[2] Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus routes 135 and 204 stop at the mall at the Exton Transportation Center, providing access to West Chester, Coatesville, Eagleview, and Paoli.[6][7] The mall is also near the Exton station that is served by the Paoli/Thorndale Line of SEPTA Regional Rail and Amtrak's Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian.[6] The Exton Square Mall has a market area that covers most of Chester County along with the western portion of Delaware County, the western portion of Montgomery County near Pottstown, the extreme southern portion of Berks County, and the extreme eastern portion of Lancaster County.[8]

History edit

The Exton Square Mall was built by The Rouse Company and opened its doors in March 1973.[1] The mall had one anchor store, Strawbridge & Clothier, surrounded by a ring of smaller stores.[1][9] It was also home to Pennsylvania's first Chick-fil-A restaurant which opened in 1973 and is part of the food court today.[10] In developing the Exton Square Mall, The Rouse Company was responsible for restoring the Zook House, a historic 18th century farmhouse that existed at the site of the mall.[11]

By the 1990s, the mall, which had no major renovations, was starting to show its age, leading to plans for expansion.[9] In 1992, the mall proposed adding two anchor stores.[12] In 1995, plans were made by The Rouse Company to expand the Exton Square Mall, in which the size of the mall would be doubled. The Rouse Company purchased 12 acres near the mall to be used for the expansion.[13] Boscov's and JCPenney signed leases to open locations at the Exton Square Mall in 1996 with Sears following in 1997.[14][15] In September 1997, West Whiteland Township supervisors approved the expansion of the Exton Square Mall.[16]

Food court entrance of Exton Square Mall in 2008

Groundbreaking for the expansion took place in December 1997.[9] In 1998, the Zook House, which had served as the mall management office, was relocated to make way for the new Boscov's store.[17] The expansion added three new anchor stores, a new food court, two parking garages, and a completed second level.[1] The expanded mall was designed to reflect the agricultural heritage of Chester County.[9] In addition to expanding the mall, The Rouse Company improved US 30 Bus. and PA 100 near the mall at a cost of $3 million.[18] Boscov's, Sears, and the new food court opened in 1999.[19] Construction concluded in May 2000 with the opening of JCPenney and 48 new stores; a grand reopening was held to commemorate this. The expansion of the mall cost $125 million. The number of stores in the Exton Square Mall increased from 95 to 150 and retail space expanded from 435,000 square feet (40,413 m2) to 980,000 square feet (91,045 m2). The expansion turned the Exton Square Mall into the first regional mall in Chester County.[1]

In 2003, The Rouse Company sold the Exton Square Mall along with the Cherry Hill Mall, Echelon Mall, Moorestown Mall, Plymouth Meeting Mall, and The Gallery at Market East to PREIT for $548 million.[20] In 2005, Federated Department Stores purchased May Department Stores, the owners of Strawbridge's, and planned to convert several Strawbridge's locations to Macy's, including the store at Exton Square Mall. Strawbridge's became Macy's in 2006.[21] In January 2014, Main Line Health opened a 32,000-square-foot (2,973 m2) healthcare facility on the first floor.[22][23]

On January 15, 2014, it was announced that the JCPenney store would be closing as part of a plan to close 33 locations nationwide.[24] With the closure of JCPenney, PREIT announced plans to reposition the Exton Square Mall. As part of the redevelopment, PREIT would take over the Kmart outparcel in 2016.[23] On July 29, 2015, PREIT announced that they would demolish the Kmart outparcel and replace it with Whole Foods Market.[25][26] Whole Foods Market opened on January 18, 2018.[27] In addition, Round One Entertainment opened a bowling and entertainment center in the first floor of the former JCPenney on December 9, 2016.[28] In 2017, the Sears Auto Center closed. On July 14, 2019, it was announced that the Sears store would also be closing. The store closed in September 2019. On May 13, 2021, a COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened in the former Sears building.

In recent years, the Exton Square Mall has seen an increase in the vacancy rate, due to declining mall traffic and ongoing competition from the larger King of Prussia mall located 14 miles (23 km) away. Some former stores and tenants such as LensCrafters, Banana Republic, and Saladworks moved to Main Street at Exton, a nearby open-air shopping mall. In 2019, the non-anchor occupancy rate at Exton Square Mall was 65.1%. Many of the stores in the mall are non-traditional tenants such as medical offices, a chess club, an art studio and gallery, and a chamber of commerce office.[29] In Spring 2022, Toys R Us will open on the lower level of Macy's.

It was announced on March 15, 2022 that PREIT will sell the Exton Square Mall to raise money to pay down their debt.[30]

Stores and facilities edit

Exton Square Mall interior in 2024

The Exton Square Mall contains three anchor stores. The largest is Macy's, which is 181,200 square feet (16,834 m2) in area and opened with the mall in 1973 as Strawbridge & Clothier (later Strawbridge's) before becoming Macy's in 2006.[2][9][21] The second largest is Boscov's, which is 178,000 square feet (16,537 m2) in area and opened in 1999 as part of a mall expansion.[2][19] The third largest a vacant anchor spot last occupied by Sears, which is 144,301 square feet (13,406 m2) in area and also opened in 1999 as part of the mall expansion.[2][19] Sears closed in September 2019. There is also a 118,000-square-foot (10,963 m2) anchor spot used by Round One Entertainment since 2016.[28] It originally opened as JCPenney 2000 as part of the mall expansion, but closed in 2014.[1][2][24] Round One only occupies the lower level and the upper level remains vacant.

In addition to the anchor stores, the mall has dozens of smaller stores.[31][2] The mall also contains a food court with 13 spaces. The mall is shaped as a square, with the first floor looping around the southern half of the mall and the second floor looping around the whole mall. Macy's is located in the center of the square, with the former Sears at the northwest corner, the food court at the northeast corner, Boscov's at the southwest corner, and Round One Entertainment at the southeast corner.[31]

The Exton Square Mall complex also contains several facilities including the Chester County Library at Exton, the Exton Transportation Center with connections to the King of Prussia mall, and medical facilities. The Main Line Health at Exton Square is located within the mall between Macy's and Boscov's.[32] The design of the facility is similar to buildings where physician practices are grouped together.[33]

Economic impact edit

The opening of the Exton Square Mall coincided with rapid growth in West Whiteland Township, with the population increasing from 7,900 in 1973 to over 16,000 by 2000. Since the opening, many shopping centers and office parks have been built in the township. Following the opening of the mall, the West Whiteland Township Police Department was created to patrol the township as the demand from the mall would be too much for the Pennsylvania State Police to handle.[5] When the Exton Square Mall first opened, several stores in downtown West Chester closed.[34] In 2011, the Exton Square Mall saw sales per square foot of $332.

In popular culture edit

On September 10, 2015, director Kevin Smith announced that the Exton Square Mall would be used in the filming of MallBrats, the sequel to his 1995 film Mallrats. MallBrats was originally intended to be filmed at the Granite Run Mall, but the plan fell through due to that mall's impending demolition.[35] In February 2017, plans for filming MallBrats were cancelled.[36]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Weidener, Susan (May 3, 2000). "Exton Square Mall Settles Into Its Space After More Than A Year, Work Is Complete". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Exton Square Mall Fact Sheet" (PDF). preit.com. PREIT. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 10, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
  3. ^ https://www.abc27.com/pennsylvania/malls-that-are-considered-dead-in-pennsylvania/
  4. ^ Chester County, Pennsylvania (Map) (17th ed.). 1"=2000'. ADC Map. 2006. ISBN 0-87530-778-7.
  5. ^ a b "The West Whiteland Township Police Department History". West Whiteland Township. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Route 135 bus map" (PDF). SEPTA. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "Route 204 bus map" (PDF). SEPTA. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  8. ^ "Exton Square Mall Property Overview". PREIT. Archived from the original on December 8, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e Weidener, Susan (December 21, 1997). "Exton Mall Poised For Leap Into A Big Future Four Years In The Planning, The Expansion Of The 24-year-old Shopping Center Has Begun. The $100 Million Project Will Triple The Size Of The Complex". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  10. ^ Rovins, Donna (November 13, 2019). "New Chick-fil-A opens in Chesco, first free-standing location for operator". The Mercury. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  11. ^ "Zook House/Exton Meadows Construction: c. 1750". West Whiteland Township Historical Commission. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  12. ^ Ashby, Georgia S. (March 15, 1992). "More Mall Exton Square Wants To Add 2 Anchors". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  13. ^ Weidener, Susan (July 27, 1995). "Mall Plans To Double In Size Exton Square Mall Wants To Bring High-end Retailers Into The Market". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  14. ^ Weidener, Susan and Rachael Smolkin (July 31, 1996). "Exton Mall Signs Penney's, Boscov's The Center Will Nearly Triple In Size. It's A Coup In The Battle By Two Developers To Build A Chesco Regional Mall". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  15. ^ Weidener, Susan (February 28, 1997). "Exton Mall Developer Says Sears To Be Fourth Anchor It Would Open In 1999 As Rouse Triples The Shopping Area. The Deal May Doom A Rival Proposal By Kravco". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Weidener, Susan (September 10, 1997). "Expansion Of Exton Square Approved West Whiteland Supervisors Unanimously Endorsed The $100 Million Mall Project". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  17. ^ Weidener, Susan (August 3, 1998). "Archaeology Precedes Zook House's Move The Grounds Are Providing History. The Home Will Be Relocated For Mall Expansion". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  18. ^ Weidener, Susan (April 6, 1999). "Exton Square Road Project Looms". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c Weidener, Susan (September 28, 1999). "A Milestone For Mall Project Due Friday At Exton Square: New Store And More Parking". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Cooper, Porus P. (March 7, 2003). "Rouse sells six malls for $548 million". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  21. ^ a b Tanaka, Wendy (July 29, 2005). "Strawbridge's stores to be sold, converted New owner will change 10 to Macy's. Boscov's wants to buy others. New owners plan to sell, convert Strawbridge's". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  22. ^ Freeman, Matt (March 3, 2013). "Main Line Health to open center in Exton Mall". Main Line Suburban Life. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  23. ^ a b Van Allen, Peter (January 17, 2014). "With Penney's closing, PREIT will reposition Exton Square". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Here's A List Of The J.C. Penney Stores That Are Closing". The Huffington Post. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  25. ^ Adelman, Jacob (July 31, 2015). "PREIT to demolish Exton Square's Kmart, add organic grocery store". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  26. ^ "PREIT Announces Whole Foods Market Will Join Exton Square Mall". CNNMoney. PR Newswire. August 3, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  27. ^ Mccullough, Brian (January 17, 2018). "Whole Foods prepares for Thursday opening in Exton; still no date for Newtown Square store". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Adelman, Jacob (December 5, 2016). "Exton Square department-store space is turning Japanese, as mall-entertainment company expands". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  29. ^ Levine-Weinberg, Adam (September 10, 2019). "Will PREIT's Worst Malls Die -- or Will They Evolve?". The Motley Fool. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  30. ^ Kostelini, Natalie (March 15, 2022). "PREIT to sell Exton Square Mall as it tries to raise funds to pay down debt". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  31. ^ a b "Exton Square Mall Directory" (PDF). PREIT. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 16, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  32. ^ "Exton Square Mall".
  33. ^ "New Main Line Health Center at Exton Square opens<".
  34. ^ Whyte, William H. and Paco Underhill (1988). City: Rediscovering the Center. Doubleday. p. 337. ISBN 9780812220742. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  35. ^ Lindak, Virginia (September 10, 2015). "MallBrats movie shooting happening in Exton". Daily Local News. West Chester, PA. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  36. ^ McCullough, Brian (February 19, 2017). "Exton Square Mall shakes off loss of 'Mallrats' sequel". Daily Local News. West Chester, PA. Retrieved January 29, 2018.

External links edit