A look back at the grand opening of the Eastbrook Mall

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If you lived in Grand Rapids in the 60s and 70s, you remember Eastbrook Mall, located on the northeast corner of the intersection of the East Beltline and 28th Street.

It was later transformed into an open-air mall in 2012 and 2013. Just recently, it was learned that the Shops at Centerpoint (its new name after the transformation) had been sold for $63.5 million. It was purchased by Illinois-based Pine Tree Commercial Realty LLC.

Since major construction as an outdoor strip mall ten years ago, the mall now boasts 537,948 square feet of retail space with stores like DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, Dunham’s Sports, Five Below, JOANN Fabrics, HomeGoods, Nordstrom Rack, Planet Fitness, Sierra Trading Post, TJ Maxx and Ulta Beauty.

Back to the start of the Eastbrook Mall

The building was originally an indoor shopping center which opened on Wednesday, September 27, 1967. It was called Eastbrook Mall when it officially opened. At the time, there were around 50 stores in the mall, with flagship stores at both ends. Woolco was a large discount store on the east end, and local department stores Wurzburg’s and Steketee’s were anchored on the west and north ends. The mall cost $10 million to build and featured 400,000 square feet.

When the store first opened in the late 1960s, it was about 80% full. Besides the three flagship stores, other retailers included Eberhard’s Grocery (in a nearby freestanding building), Lerner’s, McCrory, Fox’s Jewelry, Crown Card, Bulliss, Zondervan, Regal Shoes, and Schensul’s Restaurant.

In a Grand Rapids Press article from September 26, 1967, they described the anchor stores and the mall this way…

All three have entrances to the air-conditioned Eastbrook Mall as well as entrances to the black-roofed car park which will accommodate 5,500 cars.

They also went on to say…

Customers will be shopping in “Hawaiian-like” weather, 72 degrees all the time.

Here is a flyer that was published about the opening. It was scanned by Kim Rush and posted to Facebook by Matt Weber in the If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids/Kent County group, so you remember…Facebook group…

Eastbrook Shopping Center

Photo: Kim Rush/Matt Weber via If you grew up in Grand Rapids/Kent County, then you remember… Facebook Group

Next, U.S. Representative Gerald R. Ford was at the opening of the Eastbrook Mall. He was also at the opening of another Grand Rapids mall that no longer exists – North Kent Mall on the northeast side of town on Plainfield Avenue…

North Kent Mall opened in 1971, a few years after Eastbrook Mall opened. The largest of the three malls at the time, Woodland Mall opened in 1968, just a year after the Eastbrook Mall opened. The original indoor mall in the Grand Rapids area was Rogers Plaza on 28th Street in Wyoming. It was built in 1960. These malls would be the big four in the area until Grandville’s Rivertown Crossings Mall opened in 1999.

Do you have old photos of Eastbrook Mall? We would like to see them. You can email them to [email protected]

Grand Rapids ABCs

Here’s an interesting alphabetical look at the people and places that have played a role in Grand Rapids history.

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