Westgate Mall losing its last major retailer; now what?
MADISON, Wis. — The future of Westgate Mall is uncertain after its last major retailer plans to leave by September.
T.J. Maxx will move across the street next to Office Depot, leaving the mall with only a few occupied space. Those include the Wisconsin Craft Market, a pop-up used-book store and a State Farm Insurance agent.
Hy-Vee corporate offices own the Westgate Mall building and said in a statement, “We are entertaining options to get the Westgate Mall development back under contract.”
For decades, the owner of the Wisconsin Craft Market, Paul Zarnikow, said he’s watched stores leave one by one. But Zarnikow explained that he’s not worried about the future of the mall. “We’re staying until they drag us out,” he said.
The Wisconsin Craft Market just came up on 29 years of being at their location and said they’re doing just fine business-wise.
The only remains that show the mall was not always like this are the shadows of the signs from former stores that decorate the exterior of the mall.
Stu Levitan, author of “Madison in the Sixties,” said it’s sad to see the rise and fall of the mall.
“On March 24, 1960, 20,000 people came for the opening of the Westgate Mall,” Levitan said. “There was a JC Penney and a Piggly Wiggly.”
Levitan knows his history and that the now seemingly vacant lot used to be bustling with cars.
“It’s doubly sad,” Levitan said. “A, that so much land was devoted to surface parking and B, that there’s no one here to use it.”
Levitan said the story of the Westgate Mall has come full circle considering it’s the same mall that once took business away from downtown and is now losing business of its own.
“The same people who developed Westgate, they also developed the East Towne and West Towne Malls, which kept pulling shopping out of downtown,” Levitan said.
While the future is yet to be decided, Zarnikow said he’s fine with whatever is decided.
“If there’s a lot of stores here, great. If there’s not and we are the only ones, that’s OK with me, too,” Zarnikow said.
The last major retailer at this mall, TJ Maxx, is moving out. This only leaves about three retailers in the mall, the rest is vacant. The owners of the mall said: “We are entertaining options to get the Westgate Mall development back under contract.” #News3Now pic.twitter.com/msdcDubwY9
— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) May 16, 2019
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