from Eyewitness News Online
Nov. 3, 1983 - Charleston Town Center Opens
By Heath Harrison
March 31, 2013
Few events have transformed downtown Charleston more than the Nov. 3, 1983, opening of the Charleston Town Center.
At the time of its introduction, Town Center was the largest urban mall in the United States east of the Mississippi. The three-story, 931,000-square-foot complex was first proposed by Charleston Mayor John Hutchinson and was built for a price tag of $100 million. Hutchinson's goal was to keep the city's status as the retail hub for Southern West Virginia.
Town Center’s original four anchor stores, J.C. Penney, Sears, Montgomery Ward and Kaufmann’s, opened first, followed by the inner portion of the center upon its completion. The mall's central courtyard featured a three-story indoor waterfall, which remained in place until 2005.
Bordered by Quarrier, Lee, Court and Clendenin streets, Town Center, upon opening, shifted the city’s shopping traffic away from its traditional Capitol Street destination.
More than 450 retailers and restaurants have been located in Town Center throughout its history. The mall, owned by Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, currently houses more than 130 stores and a food court, and has undergone a number of renovations since its opening, with the most recent, a $7 million job, completed in 2012.
This week’s video, courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History archives, features a vintage WCHS report from Brian Clark on the mall’s opening week with footage of the complex’s construction and preparations for its first day. Next, we see film of the mall’s now-defunct indoor waterfall, followed by another report from Clark on the impact the mall would have on Capitol Street and downtown shopping.
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