© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The end of an era as work starts to demolish the Eastfield Mall

The demolition of the Eastfield Mall began with the 16-screen movie theater located at the rear of the property on Boston Road in Springfield.
Paul Tuthill
The demolition of the Eastfield Mall began with the 16-screen movie theater located at the rear of the property on Boston Road in Springfield.

An open-air shopping center will replace the 56-year-old mall

One of the first enclosed shopping malls in the region is being demolished.

Work is underway to raze the Eastfield Mall to make way for the construction of a modern and much smaller open-air shopping center that the developers have named “Springfield Crossing.”

The first section of the now-closed mall to be targeted by the wrecking crew is the 16-screen movie theater located at the rear of the 46-acre property on Boston Road near the Springfield-Wilbraham line.

Onyx Partners Limited purchased the mall earlier this year and in April received a special permit from the Springfield City Council for the redevelopment project.

At a City Council hearing, Anton Melchionda, the CEO of Onyx, said the project will cost $65 million-$80 million, create hundreds of new full- and part-time jobs, and increase the real estate tax on the property by $1.7 million.

“It’s a huge investment for us, as you can imagine,” he said. “We think it is very meaningful for the community.”

Plans for the new shopping center on file with the city show 17 separate buildings of various sizes that would contain retailers, casual dining restaurants, and office space. It is premature to identify the tenants, said Brian Kaplan, vice president of development for Onyx.

“There’s going to be a pet store, there’s a few restaurants that have been floated out there, Old Navy is planning to come back,” he said.

The new shopping center would be roughly two-thirds the size of the old mall.

Kaplan said there will be more open space and landscaping than what exists at the property now.

“There will be sidewalks around the entire property,” he said. “We are also looking at the possibility of a dedicated trail that can be safely accessed for walking.”

It’s estimated the demolition of the old mall and construction of the new shopping center will take at least two years to complete.

The mall closed its doors to shoppers for good on July 15th. By early August, the last of the remaining retailers – many of them operating out of kiosks and pushcarts – had moved out.

The Eastfield Mall opened in 1967 – more than a decade before the Holyoke Mall and Hampshire Mall. It thrived until the beginning of this century when shopping habits changed and enclosed malls fell out of favor.

As anchor retailers including JC Penney, Macy’s, and Sears closed in the last decade, plans were floated to redevelop the property into housing and even cannabis cultivation, but those all fell through.

During the COVID pandemic, the former Macy’s was turned into a mass vaccination clinic. A drive-through COVID testing site was located in the mall’s parking lot.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.